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America's Top 10 Mound Sites

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Author Topic: America's Top 10 Mound Sites  (Read 90 times)
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« on: May 21, 2010, 02:59:47 pm »

# 6 Portsmouth Earthworks, OH/KY
Portsmouth Group, Ohio • Mounds & Earthworks • Hopewell
National Historic Site—located in Mound Park on 17th Street in Portsmouth, OH.
On a high terrace near the confluence of the Scioto and Ohio rivers a complex and intricate set of amazing earthworks were constructed by Hopewell era people, from 500 B.C. to A.D. 1000. The central point of this complex was on a high terrace to the north of the Ohio River in what is today Mound Park in Portsmouth. Two horseshoe-shaped embankments with walls 12-feet in height were the focal point of the site. Only one of these remains at the park today. Around these earthworks was a circular embankment, part of which survives today. To the east of the embankments was a truncated mound. From this central point, three sets of parallel earthen walls, spaced at a uniform 160-feet wide, ran to the northeast, the southwest, and the southeast. The walls forming the walkways were 20-feet thick and 4-feet high. The southeast walls ran for 5 miles to the Ohio River and picked up on the other side of the river in Kentucky. From that spot they ran another 1.5 miles to a complex circular embankment with a central mound. This circular earthwork was curiously arranged with the same basic shape as the Center City of Atlantis as described by Plato. This Kentucky site was nearly obliterated and a greenhouse and pasture is now located there. This formation consisted of four concentric circles with four spaced “avenues” leading into the formation. One of the avenues into the multiringed circle was made by the walkway coming from the Ohio River. The concentric circles were formed of earthen walls from 2 to 5-feet in height. In the center of the circular complex was a conical mound with a flattop. This mound was 22-feet high. This mound remains at the site.
The walkway that led 7 miles to the southwest to the Ohio River picked up on the Kentucky side leading to what is known as the Old Fort Earthworks. Dominating this earthworks area was a 15-acre square enclosed by 12-foot high earthen walls that were 35 to 40-feet wide. Each side of the square enclosure ran for 800-feet. There are 6 openings into the square. The square originally had two long “wings,” which extended to the northeast and southwest. These wings were formed by parallel earthen walls extending for 2100-feet in each direction. The wing to the southwest ran through a deep ravine and ended at a spot where the ends of the parallel walls bend close together somewhat like the opening of an eyedropper. A small circular earthwork and several small burial mounds were located at this point. Portions of the square and mounds are still there located on private land.
Portsmouth comes in at number 6 because of its intricate design, the 15-miles of earthen walled walkways, and partial preservation.
# 5 Fort Ancient, OH
Fort Ancient, Ohio • Hilltop Fort/Enclosure • Hopewell
Ohio Historical Society Park & Museum—located 7 miles southeast of Lebanon, OH on State Rt. 350.
Sometime around 500 BC, a Native American cultural group called the Hopewell erected fort-like enclosures on the flat summits of steep mountain tops in an area stretching from New York state to Tennessee. High walls of earth and stone were made along the edges of the bluffs. Sometimes huge wooden posts were embedded into the walls forming a defensive wall known as a palisade. Fort Ancient is the best example of these so-called Hilltop Enclosures. The Fort Ancient site was constructed from 100 B.C. to A.D. 500. It is a 100-acre flat area with a steep bluff 270-feet above the Little Miami River. Earthen walls up to 68-feet in width and 4 to 23-feet in height, extend over 18,000 feet in length around the outer edge of the hilltop. Fort Ancient was initially thought to be a defensive embankment, however, the presence of over 80 large gaps through the outer wall has shown it probably wasn’t a fortress. There are numerous earthen mounds, stone mounds, walkways paved with limestone slabs, and stone circles at Fort Ancient, all of which are believed to be associated in a complex way with gaps or openings in the exterior walls. Recent work suggests that lunar and solar sighting lines were employed from mounds inside through the enclosure through gaps.
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