Edwin Harness Mound

From Ohio History Central
Moorhead Tunnels at the Edwin Harness Mound.jpg
Moorhead tunnels during excavation at the Edwin Harness Mound, Ross County, ca. 1900-1915.

The Edwin Harness Mound site was part of the Liberty Works, a ceremonial center of the Hopewell culture (100 BC – AD 500) located in Ross County. The Liberty Works consisted of a tri-partite earthwork, much like the Seip Earthworks. It included a large circle, enclosing about 40 acres, attached to a small circle and a square enclosure that measured 1,080 feet on a side. The Edwin Harness Mound was a large oval mound located within the large circle near the juncture with the square. It was 160 feet long by 90 feet wide and 20 feet high.

The Edwin Harness Mound was explored by generations of archaeologists beginning with Ephraim Squier and Edwin Davis around 1840. They excavated two shafts into the central portion of the mound uncovering the remains of two eight foot square timber enclosures, one of which contained a partially cremated burial associated with a copper plate and a large platform pipe. Their collection of artifacts is now at the British Museum.

Frederic Putnam excavated about one quarter of the mound for the Peabody Museum in 1885. Putnam discovered additional "burial chambers" and considerable numbers of artifacts such as copper plates, copper ear spools, shell beads, flint knives, and remnants of textiles.

Warren K. Moorehead excavated the southern portion of the mound in 1897 for the Ohio Historical Society (now, as of 2014, the Ohio History Connection!). Moorehead explored the mound by excavating an extensive series of tunnels following lines of burials in small, domed chambers.

William C. Mills conducted further excavations for the Ohio Historical Society between 1903 and 1907. Mills determined that the mound overlay the remains of a large wooden structure that contained a large number of burials and artifact offerings.

Finally, in 1976 and 1977, N'omi Greber, an archaeologist with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, excavated the remaining traces of the mound and its subsurface postmolds and pits. She defined the plan of the timber structure as two large squarish rooms connected to two small circular chambers. She compared the structure to the traditional American Indian ceremonial "Big House."

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. 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.
  4. CERHAS. EarthWorks, Virtual Explorations of the Ancient Ohio Valley. The Center for the Electronic Reconstruction of Historical and Archaeological Sites (CERHAS). Cincinnati, OH, 2006.
  5. Greber, N'omi "Recent Excavations at the Edwin Harness Mound, Liberty Works, Ross County, Ohio." Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, Special Publication 5, 1983.
  6. Lepper, Bradley T. Ohio Archaeology: An Illustrated Chronicle of Ohio's Ancient American Indian Cultures. Wilmington, Ohio, Orange Frazer Press, 2005. 
  7. Mills, William C. "Explorations of the Edwin Harness Mound," Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly, Volume 16, 113-193, 1907.
  8. Pangea Productions. Searching for the Great Hopewell Road. N.p.: Pangea Productions, 1998.
  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.