Chillicothe Earthworks

From Ohio History Central
Chillicothe Earthworks.jpg

This map shows the Hopewell mounds and earthworks around Chillicothe Ohio.

The area near what is now Chillicothe, Ohio was in the heartland of the so-called "Woodland Culture" of pre-contact American Indians, known to archaeologists as the Adena and Hopewell. The importance of this region for these ancient societies is evident in the number and variety of earthworks located in the Scioto River Valley north and south of modern Chillicothe. There are more earthworks per square mile here than in any other part of North America.

The Adena culture (800 B.C. to 100 A.D.) built many of the mounds and some of the smaller circular enclosures in the Chillicothe area. The Adena Mound was formerly located on the estate of Governor Thomas Worthington. Before it was excavated and removed, it was a notable example of a conical burial mound. The Adena culture is named for the Adena Mound.

From about 100 B.C. to 500 A.D. the Hopewell culture built monumental earthworks in a variety of geometric shapes. They included circles, squares, octagons, and ovals. In addition, conical and loaf-shaped mounds were used for the burial of the dead. They often are found associated with the geometric enclosures. The Hopewell site, for which the culture is named, is in the Paint Creek Valley just a few miles from Chillicothe.

Other earthworks in the Chillicothe area include Hopeton, Mound City, Seip Mound and Earthworks, and Story Mound. The Hopeton Earthworks site is recognized as a National Historic Landmark. The site of the Adena Mound, the Hopewell Mound Group, Mound City Group, Seip Earthworks, Story Mound, and other mounds and enclosures near Chillicothe are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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


  1. Byers, A. Martin. The Ohio Hopewell Episode: Paradigm Lost and Paradigm Gained. Akron, OH: University of Akron Press, 2004.
  2. Carr, Christopher, and D. Troy Case, eds. Gathering Hopewell: Society, Ritual, and Ritual Interaction. New York, NY: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2005.
  3. CERHAS. EarthWorks, Virtual Explorations of the Ancient Ohio Valley. The Center for the Electronic Reconstruction of Historical and Archaeological Sites (CERHAS). Cincinnati, OH, 2006.
  4. Case, D. Troy and Christopher Carr, eds. The Scioto Hopewell and their Neighbors: Bioarchaeological Documentation and Cultural Understanding. New York, NY: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2008.
  5. Pangea Productions. Searching for the Great Hopewell Road. N.p.: Pangea Productions, 1998.
  6. Greber, N'omi "A Study of Continuity and Contrast Between Central Scioto Adena and Hopewell Sites." West Virginia Archeologist 43:1-26, 1991
  7. Earthworks Virtual Explorations of Ancient Newark, Ohio. The Center for the Electronic Reconstruction of Historical and Archaeological Sites. Cincinnati, OH: Center for the Electronic Reconstruction of Historical and Archaeological Sites, 2005.
  8. Warriner, Gray, producer. Legacy of the Mound Builders. Seattle, WA: Camera One for the National Park Service and the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, 1994.
  9. 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. 
  10. Lepper, Bradley T. Ohio Archaeology: An Illustrated Chronicle of Ohio's Ancient American Indian Cultures. Wilmington, Ohio, Orange Frazer Press, 2005.