at Hopeton Earthworks
Archeological study of the Ohio Hopewell Culture
has emphasized excavation of mounds and earthwork
sites. This emphasis on the study of mortuary
and ceremonial components of this culture has
left many questions about the habitation patterns,
settlements, and daily lifeways of the Hopewell
people. In 1994, the National Park Service (NPS)
through the Midwest Archeological Center initiated
a five-year study at Hopewell Culture National
Historical Park (NHP) aimed at producing signficant
new information about Hopewellian lifeways and
In 1994, a field crew from the Midwest Archeological
Center conducted geophysical surveys and limited
test excavations at the Hopeton Earthworks. The
research was conducted on a triangular-shaped
tract of land near the southwest margin of the
National Historical Landmark.
The research had two goals. First, we used
geophysical survey techniques to locate and map
the parallel walls recorded by Squier and Davis
in the mid-19th century. The walls were visible
on aerial photogaphs through the 1970s. Second,
we hoped to find evidence of settlement occupation
associated with the Earthwork in this area.
The Center intended to continue investigations
in this area in 1995 until the staff at Hopewell
Culture NHP learned that the Chillicothe Sand
and Gravel Company planned to expand its quarry
operation northward. Surface examination of this
area revealed the presence of potential Middle
Woodland settlement sites. With this area threatened
by quarry activities, we decided to shift research
activities to the area known as the Overly site.
Research at the Overly site in 1995 was sponsored
by the NPS and was conducted by Ohio State University
under the direction of Dr. William Dancey. Research
at the Overly site continued in 1996 under direction
of Hopewell Culture NHP Archeologist Dr. Bret
Ruby, who also directed excavation of a small
section of the earthworks. In 1997, Dr. Ruby
directed investigations near the large earthwork
square in an area that appeared to exhibit surface
evidence of Middle Woodland settlement.
From September 22 through 26, 1997, the Center
sponsored further geophysical surveys to determine
whether evidence of the parallel walls were present.
These surveys were also conducted to identify
anomalies representing habitation features associated
with prehistoric domestic activities.
The work was conducted by Mark Lynott, John
Weymouth, Bret Ruby, N'omi Greber, Steven De
Vore, Deborah Wood, Forest Frost, and Phil Wanyerka (Figure
3). The team used a cesium magnetometer,
fluxgate magnetometer, and an RM-15 resistance
meter. Twenty-eight 20-m by 20-m contiguous blocks
were surveyed using various instruments. This
represents the largest geophysical survey database
ever collected on an archeological site in Ohio,
and one of the largest ever collected in the
eastern U. S.
Data from the 1997 geophysical surveys will
be used to direct excavations in this area in
1998. The 1998 study will include trench excavations
to seek evidence of the parallel walls and to
learn how they were constructed. We are also
hoping to find datable material to determine
when the walls were constructed. In the area
adjacent to the parallel walls, excavations will
focus on identifying subsurface features associated
with prehistoric habitation. Features will be
sampled to collect data on food and other remains,
including materials for radiocarbon dating.
The 1998 research will be conducted by archeologists
from the Midwest Archeological Center and Hopewell
Culture NHP and students, teachers and volunteers
from the Hershey School in Hershey, Pennsylvania,
and the Lincoln Public Schools in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The project will be conducted from July 13 through
July 24, 1998. An evening speakers program about
this project will be open to the public.