Difference between revisions of "Hopewell Culture"

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| caption = Effigy of a hawk claw cut from sheet mica, Ohio Hopewell culture, 100 BC-500 AD. Excavated from Hopewell Mound Group, Ross County, Ohio ca. 1922-1925. The Hopewell obtained mica from western North Carolina. Archeologists are not certain how they used mica cut outs. This object is held in the Ohio History Connection Archaeology Collection.
 
| caption = Effigy of a hawk claw cut from sheet mica, Ohio Hopewell culture, 100 BC-500 AD. Excavated from Hopewell Mound Group, Ross County, Ohio ca. 1922-1925. The Hopewell obtained mica from western North Carolina. Archeologists are not certain how they used mica cut outs. This object is held in the Ohio History Connection Archaeology Collection.
 
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<p>Around 200 B.C, the beginning of the Middle Woodland period, a new Native American culture developed that spread throughout the Midwest (then known as the Eastern Woodland) -- archaeologists mark this new cultural period as the Hopewell culture.
 
  
"Hopewell culture," thus, doesn't refer to a specific tribe; instead, the designation refers to an artifactually-observed culture and way of life that seems to have developed simultaneously across the great Midwest -- from Nebraska to Mississippi, Indiana to Minnesota, and from Virginia to the Hopewell culture's epicenter in Ohio. In Ohio, Hopewell cultural forms and influences were strongest in the Southeastern region of the state, including the Ohio Valley, the Scioto Valley, and the Miami Valley. Typically, groups identified as being a part of the Hopewell culture tended to reside near major waterways and abundantly resourced rivers to support their lifestyle and the complex social networks they were cultivating.</p>
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Around A.D. 1, during the Middle Woodland period, a new Native American culture developed whose influence spread throughout the Midwest  -- archaeologists named this the Hopewell culture after the Hopewell Mound Group in Chillicothe where it was first recognized. The "Hopewell culture" doesn't refer to a particular Native American tribe; instead, it’s a name for a distinctive set of artifacts, earthworks, and burial practices characteristic of sites in southern Ohio from A.D. 1 to 400.
  
<p>A Hopewell cultured settlement was generally smaller in size and temporary -- peoples identified with the Hopewell culture instead resided in one area for a certain amount of time before relocating to discover fresher resources and advance trading routes. These minuscule hamlets consisted of only a few rectangular homes with thatched roofs and daub walls. Like previous cultures in the region, Hopewell-influenced communities gained sustenance and supplies through techniques including: hunting and gathering and farming. However, the Hopewell culture was set apart by its strong focus on agricultural settlement. These societies emphasized planting indigenous seeds that were abundant in the fertile regions where villages were settled. Some of the major plants cultivated by Hopewell communities include: sunflower, squash, and maygrass. The switch from a concentration on hunting to that of agriculture represented the official birth of mass farming within the American Indian network.</p>
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A Hopewell culture settlement typically consisted of one or a few families living in rectangular houses with a nearby garden. These people were hunters, fishers, and gatherers of wild plant foods, but they also grew a number of domesticated plants in their gardens, including sunflower, squash, goosefoot, and maygrass. Archaeologists refer to this set of plants as the Eastern Agricultural Complex.
  
<p>Archaeologists also define Hopewell communities by their intricate trading system. Routes connected communities all throughout the Eastern region, linking distant areas such as the Great Lakes to Florida so that tribes were able to obtain and utilize exotic goods not found within their settlements. The system was arranged so that those peoples residing at the important locations of the trading channel would receive a variety of resources from all connecting regions, then they either shipped those exotic goods to different areas or developed finished products such as tools to transport using local dispatching systems. Hopewell art was considered some of the finest created during that era because they had access to a variety of resources and were not limited by regional assets. With varying resources to utilize, the Hopewell culture allowed the sustaining of an artisan class that could specialize in developing different arts and tools. Much of the art that was produced depicted a multitude of animals (deer, bear, and birds were the most popular) and in many cases animal effigies were used to depict the guardian spirit of a shaman. The Hopewell culture coincided with the introduction to shapes such as bowls and jars so imprints of figures were also placed on pottery. In the communities residing in Ohio, copper, mica, and obsidian were three dominant exotic goods that the tribes desired.</p>
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The Hopewell culture participated in a vast social network that stretched across much of eastern North America and sometimes beyond. This social interaction consisted of people from distant regions traveling to the main Hopewell ceremonial earthworks in the Scioto, Muskingum, and Great and Little Miami river valleys perhaps as pilgrims bringing gifts of rare and precious materials, such as copper from Lake Superior, sea shells from the Gulf of Mexico, mica from the southern Appalachian Mountains, and obsidian from Wyoming. Ohio people also may have traveled to these distant regions on spiritual quests bringing these materials back with them.
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Hopewell artisans crafted these special raw materials into amazing works of art that seem to have been used as religious symbols in ceremonies. They made smoking pipes in the shapes of a variety of animals, cut sheets of mica into iconic forms such as an open human hand and a bird’s claw, and chipped obsidian into the shapes of spear points much too big ever to have been actually used to tip spears.
  
<p>Architecture is the prominent representation of the Hopewell culture used by historians to earmark the period. Earthworks and burial mounds which were used for a multitude of ceremonies such as religious practices and funerals were discovered intact throughout the Midwestern region; these mounds provide insight to this relatively unknown lifestyle. Hopewell cultural groups created a number of earthworks in varying forms, ranging from geometric complexes, hilltop enclosures, and conical mounds which could be found around fertile rivers or stream valleys. Many of them, considered to be used for burial purposes, were filled with a varied amount of exotic goods which demonstrated a possible hierarchical system within the community. The most prominent example of Hopewell burial mounds can be found in Chillicothe, Ohio at the Mound City Group. Ohio is considered to be the epicenter for the most impressive Hopewell earthworks.</p>
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The ceremonial life of the Hopewell culture was centered on enormous earthworks built in geometric shapes, including circles, squares and octagons. The Newark Earthworks include all three shapes in one interconnected design. These ancient Native Americans also built earthworks on the tops of hills with their shapes determined by the shapes of the hilltops. The Fort Ancient Earthworks and Fort Hill are the foremost examples of this kind of earthwork. Although the names of these sites suggest they were ancient forts, they actually were also places of ceremony. Often the earthworks are aligned to the apparent movements of the Sun and Moon, which shows that the builders were careful observers of the sky and may have wanted their ceremonial spaces to forge a connection between the heavens above and the earth below.
  
<p>Around 400 A.D Hopewell culture began to decline for an unknown reason. Archaeologists hypothesize is that there was a cultural collapse within the communities, as the succeeding settlements showed signs of a large-scale societal transition to larger, permanent, more isolated communities. Also, technological developments -- including the introduction of the bow and arrow -- made for a shift in hunting, gathering, and war, which may have forced Hopewell societies to become more secluded for survival. Earthen mounds became less prominent and the trading routes diminished in this period; but the legacy of the Hopewell cultures can still be seen today.</p> 
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Many of the Hopewell earthwork centers included large burial mounds containing the remains of special people, including religious leaders, who often were buried with special objects of great spiritual significance. These were not, however, kings and queens who could command their people to build the gigantic earthworks. There is no evidence in Hopewell societies for that kind of authoritarian leadership. Everyone lived in the same kinds of houses, ate the same foods, and worked as hard as anyone else. This makes the Hopewell culture special. People from many small communities gathered together at these ceremonial centers to cooperate in building the earthworks and to participate in the religious observances that took place there. 
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Although the Hopewell culture cannot be linked to one particular modern Native American tribe, it is likely that all the tribes with historic ties to the Ohio Valley had ancestors who helped to build or participated in the ceremonies that took place at Ohio’s monumental earthworks.
  
 
<p>[http://worldheritageohio.org/ '''Learn more'''] about our effort to inscript several Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks sites (in Ross County, Licking County, and Warren County) to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
 
<p>[http://worldheritageohio.org/ '''Learn more'''] about our effort to inscript several Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks sites (in Ross County, Licking County, and Warren County) to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
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==References==
 
==References==
 
<div class="referencesText">
 
<div class="referencesText">
#Lepper, Bradley T. <em>Ohio Archaeology: An Illustrated Chronicle of Ohio's Ancient American Indian Cultures.</em> Wilmington, Ohio, Orange Frazer Press, 2005.&nbsp;
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#Byers, A. Martin. <em>The Ohio Hopewell Episode: Paradigm Lost and Paradigm Gained</em>. Akron, OH: University of Akron Press, 2004.
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'''For young readers''':
#Carr, Christopher, and D. Troy Case, eds. <em>Gathering Hopewell: Society, Ritual, and Ritual Interaction</em>. New York, NY: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2005.
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Stiverson, Charlotte. ''A Bird’s Eye View of the Hopewell''. Wrinkled Rock Publishing, 2019
#Dancey, William S., and Paul J. Pacheco. <em>Ohio Hopewell Community Organization</em>. Kent State University Press, 1997.
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#<em>Earthworks Virtual Explorations of Ancient Newark, Ohio</em>. The Center for the Electronic Reconstruction of Historical and Archaeological Sites. Cincinnati, OH: Center for the Electronic Reconstruction of Historical and Archaeological Sites, 2005.
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'''Basic introductions:'''
#Woodward, Susan L., and Jerry N. McDonald. <em>Indian Mounds of the Middle Ohio Valley: A Guide to Mounds and Earthworks of the Adena, Hopewell, Cole, and Fort Ancient People</em>. Lincoln: The University of Nebraska Press, 2002.<strong>&nbsp;</strong>
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Lepper, Bradley T. 1999 ''People of the Mounds: Ohio's Hopewell Culture'', revised and reprinted. Guidebook on the Hopewell culture prepared for Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, Ft. Washington, Pennsylvania, National Park Service, Eastern National, 1999.
#Charles, Douglas K. and Jane E. Buikstra, editors, <em>Recreating Hopewell</em>.&nbsp; Gainesville, University Press of Florida, 2006.&nbsp;
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</div>
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Lepper, Bradley T. ''Ohio Archaeology: An Illustrated Chronicle of Ohio's Ancient American Indian Cultures''. Wilmington, Ohio, Orange Frazer Press, 2005.  
[[Category:Prehistory Groups]][[Category:Prehistory]][[Category:American Indians]]
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Woodward, Susan L., and Jerry N. McDonald. ''Indian Mounds of the Middle Ohio Valley: A Guide to Mounds and Earthworks of the Adena, Hopewell, Cole, and Fort Ancient People''. Lincoln, The University of Nebraska Press, 2002.  
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'''More detailed/technical works:'''
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Burks, Jarrod, Bret Ruby, and Brian Redmond (editors) ''Encountering Hopewell in the Twenty-first century, Ohio and beyond: Volume 2: settlements, foodways, and interaction''. University of Akron Press, 2020.
 +
 
 +
Ruby, Brett, Brian Redmond, and Jarrod Burks (editors) ''Encountering Hopewell in the Twenty-first century, Ohio and beyond: Volume 1: monuments and ceremony''. University of Akron Press, 2019.
 +
 
 +
Lepper, Bradley T. ''Archaeology of the Hopewell culture. In Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology'', edited by Claire Smith, pp. 3483-3488. Springer, New York. 2014.
 +
 
 +
Lynott, Mark. ''Hopewell ceremonial landscapes of Ohio: more than mounds and geometric earthworks''. Oxbow Books, 2015.

Latest revision as of 11:40, 29 September 2020

OHS AL02824.jpg
Effigy of a hawk claw cut from sheet mica, Ohio Hopewell culture, 100 BC-500 AD. Excavated from Hopewell Mound Group, Ross County, Ohio ca. 1922-1925. The Hopewell obtained mica from western North Carolina. Archeologists are not certain how they used mica cut outs. This object is held in the Ohio History Connection Archaeology Collection.

Around A.D. 1, during the Middle Woodland period, a new Native American culture developed whose influence spread throughout the Midwest -- archaeologists named this the Hopewell culture after the Hopewell Mound Group in Chillicothe where it was first recognized. The "Hopewell culture" doesn't refer to a particular Native American tribe; instead, it’s a name for a distinctive set of artifacts, earthworks, and burial practices characteristic of sites in southern Ohio from A.D. 1 to 400.

A Hopewell culture settlement typically consisted of one or a few families living in rectangular houses with a nearby garden. These people were hunters, fishers, and gatherers of wild plant foods, but they also grew a number of domesticated plants in their gardens, including sunflower, squash, goosefoot, and maygrass. Archaeologists refer to this set of plants as the Eastern Agricultural Complex.

The Hopewell culture participated in a vast social network that stretched across much of eastern North America and sometimes beyond. This social interaction consisted of people from distant regions traveling to the main Hopewell ceremonial earthworks in the Scioto, Muskingum, and Great and Little Miami river valleys perhaps as pilgrims bringing gifts of rare and precious materials, such as copper from Lake Superior, sea shells from the Gulf of Mexico, mica from the southern Appalachian Mountains, and obsidian from Wyoming. Ohio people also may have traveled to these distant regions on spiritual quests bringing these materials back with them. Hopewell artisans crafted these special raw materials into amazing works of art that seem to have been used as religious symbols in ceremonies. They made smoking pipes in the shapes of a variety of animals, cut sheets of mica into iconic forms such as an open human hand and a bird’s claw, and chipped obsidian into the shapes of spear points much too big ever to have been actually used to tip spears.

The ceremonial life of the Hopewell culture was centered on enormous earthworks built in geometric shapes, including circles, squares and octagons. The Newark Earthworks include all three shapes in one interconnected design. These ancient Native Americans also built earthworks on the tops of hills with their shapes determined by the shapes of the hilltops. The Fort Ancient Earthworks and Fort Hill are the foremost examples of this kind of earthwork. Although the names of these sites suggest they were ancient forts, they actually were also places of ceremony. Often the earthworks are aligned to the apparent movements of the Sun and Moon, which shows that the builders were careful observers of the sky and may have wanted their ceremonial spaces to forge a connection between the heavens above and the earth below.

Many of the Hopewell earthwork centers included large burial mounds containing the remains of special people, including religious leaders, who often were buried with special objects of great spiritual significance. These were not, however, kings and queens who could command their people to build the gigantic earthworks. There is no evidence in Hopewell societies for that kind of authoritarian leadership. Everyone lived in the same kinds of houses, ate the same foods, and worked as hard as anyone else. This makes the Hopewell culture special. People from many small communities gathered together at these ceremonial centers to cooperate in building the earthworks and to participate in the religious observances that took place there.

Although the Hopewell culture cannot be linked to one particular modern Native American tribe, it is likely that all the tribes with historic ties to the Ohio Valley had ancestors who helped to build or participated in the ceremonies that took place at Ohio’s monumental earthworks.

Learn more about our effort to inscript several Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks sites (in Ross County, Licking County, and Warren County) to the UNESCO World Heritage List.


See Also

References

For young readers: Stiverson, Charlotte. A Bird’s Eye View of the Hopewell. Wrinkled Rock Publishing, 2019

Basic introductions: Lepper, Bradley T. 1999 People of the Mounds: Ohio's Hopewell Culture, revised and reprinted. Guidebook on the Hopewell culture prepared for Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, Ft. Washington, Pennsylvania, National Park Service, Eastern National, 1999.

Lepper, Bradley T. Ohio Archaeology: An Illustrated Chronicle of Ohio's Ancient American Indian Cultures. Wilmington, Ohio, Orange Frazer Press, 2005.

Woodward, Susan L., and Jerry N. McDonald. Indian Mounds of the Middle Ohio Valley: A Guide to Mounds and Earthworks of the Adena, Hopewell, Cole, and Fort Ancient People. Lincoln, The University of Nebraska Press, 2002.

More detailed/technical works: Burks, Jarrod, Bret Ruby, and Brian Redmond (editors) Encountering Hopewell in the Twenty-first century, Ohio and beyond: Volume 2: settlements, foodways, and interaction. University of Akron Press, 2020.

Ruby, Brett, Brian Redmond, and Jarrod Burks (editors) Encountering Hopewell in the Twenty-first century, Ohio and beyond: Volume 1: monuments and ceremony. University of Akron Press, 2019.

Lepper, Bradley T. Archaeology of the Hopewell culture. In Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, edited by Claire Smith, pp. 3483-3488. Springer, New York. 2014.

Lynott, Mark. Hopewell ceremonial landscapes of Ohio: more than mounds and geometric earthworks. Oxbow Books, 2015.