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Ohio Archeology

Miamisburg Mound (Photo by JQ Jacobs)

Did you know that some of the most spectacular archeological sites and artifacts in North America are from the state of Ohio? Did you know that Ohio has dozens of archeological sites and museums that are accessible to the public?

If not, then tune in and navigate through Visit Ohio Archeology! You'll travel through time, learning about subjects that range from the monumental earthworks of the Hopewell Indians to the living conditions in forts during the War of 1812.

Or, travel through space, using our Google Map! Zoom in to see what the park or museum looks like, and get directions from your home. After you're done, the only thing left to explore is the beautiful state of Ohio itself!

Useful Links for Ohio Archeology and History

Northern Ohio

Indian Mill State Memorial, Upper Sandusky

The Indian Mill museum presents the history of milling from prehistoric times to the present. The current mill structure was built in 1861 and the antique mill machinery is on display. The original mill was built in 1820 by the U.S. government and given to the Wyandot Indians for their assistance during the War of 1812.

Inscription Rock State Memorial, Kelleys Island

Inscription Rock is a granite slab with carved designs and inscriptions from between AD 1200 and 1600. The evocative petroglyph provides a link to the imagery of the native Ohio people.

Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History contains an "Ohio Archaeology" exhibit that explores archeological projects and sites within the state. Occasional temporary exhibits provide a glimpse into recent excavations. The museum's archeology department also provides educational programs for adults and internship opportunities for students.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, near Cleveland and Akron

Archeology at Cuyahoga Valley NP informs the Boston Store's exhibits on canal boatbuilding, Ohio's agricultural history at the Hunt Farm Visitor Center, and 12,000 years of Ohio history at the Canal Visitor Center.

Carriage House Museum, Clinton

The Carriage House is a small museum devoted to the mining, railroad, glass, and shipping industries that thrived along the Ohio & Erie canal in the 1800s. The museum's building was constructed in 1874 as a carriage trimmer and harness shop.

Fort Laurens State Memorial, Zoar

Built in 1778, Fort Laurens was an American outpost established with the intention of attacking British forces in Detroit. However, the fort was not easily supplied and the garrison had far too little food. Despite the odds, the starving American soldiers were able to fend off British and Indian forces during a month-long siege on the outpost. The memorial consists of the outlines of the fort and a museum with interpretive displays and archeological artifacts.

Schoenbrunn Museum, Zoar

As a mission to the Delaware Indians, Schoenbrunn was created by the Moravian church in 1772. The site documents how Native American and European cultures lived together in a Christian village and explores the consequences of the American Revolution from the perspective of the village. Today Schoenbrunn includes reconstructions of log cabins and gardens, the original mission cemetery, a visitor center, and a museum about the site's history.

Youngstown Historical Center of Industry & Labor, Youngstown

Youngstown Historical Center of Industry & Labor provides a glimpse into the lives of workers of Ohio's iron and steel industries. View photographs, videos, personal artifacts, and life-size reconstructed scenes to learn about labor, industrialism, and immigration in Ohio.

Museum of Ceramics, East Liverpool

East Liverpool was one of the largest producers of ceramics in the United States from the mid 1800s to the mid 1900s. The Museum of Ceramics houses an extensive collection of pottery produced in East Liverpool. In addition, Museum exhibits explore the influence of the ceramic industry on late 19th-century lifestyles in East Liverpool. The Museum itself is located in the city's old post office building.

I-70 Corridor

Piqua Historical Area, Piqua

Visitors can explore the preserved farmstead of John Johnston, Western Ohio's United States Indian Agent from 1812 to 1829. The Piqua Historical Area also contains an Adena ring-shaped mound, museum exhibits about the Eastern Woodland Indians, artifacts from the canal era, and a restored portion of the Miami and Erie Canal.

Lockington Locks, Columbus

The canal locks for part of the Miami and Erie Canal System are excellently preserved in the Lockington Locks park. Visitors can view the locks, the lockmaster's house, and a dry-dock basin located near the canal.

Miamisburg Mound, Miamisburg

Visitors are permitted to climb to the summit of Miamisburg mound, Ohio's largest conical burial mound. Archeological excavations of nearby sites have proposed that the Adena culture created the mound.

SunWatch Indian Village / Archeological Park, Dayton

SunWatch Indian Village is a reconstruction of a Fort Ancient (late prehistoric) Indian village occupied 800 years ago. The reconstruction includes homes, a portion of a stockade, native plant gardens, and astronomical posts used by Native Americans as a calendar. The archeological park also features an interpretive museum with many artifacts from the site. Educational programs include simulated archeological field work for children, students, and adults.

Enon Mound, Enon

Enon Mound is a large mound located in a traffic circle of the town of Enon. The 30-foot Adena mound is fenced off from the road, but can be easily viewed from curbside parking off of Mound Circle Drive.

For More Information Contact: Village of Enon, 363 E. Main Street, Enon, OH 45323; 937-864-7870

Cedar Bog Nature Preserve, Urbana

Cedar Bog Nature Preserve offers a glimpse of what Ohio's environment may have looked like to its inhabitants 10,000 years ago. As one of the last examples of the boreal and prairie fen complex in Ohio, the preserve hosts numerous rare plant species. The preserve is also the rough geographic center of occupation for the prehistoric Indian cultures of Ohio. Most likely, the preserve's resources were used by people for thousands of years. As a present-day remnant of the last Ice Age, the Cedar Bog transports visitors back to a time when mastadons still roamed Ohio and fed on the rich foliage in this unique area.

Indian Mound Reserve, Cedarville

Indian Mound Reserve hosts two impressive mounds. The Williamson Mound was most likely constructed by the Adena Culture and Pollock Works appears to be Hopewell. Historic maps indicate that additional mounds and a series of smaller, semi-circular embankments were also present. Visitors can also see a 19th-century log structure and the ruins of flour and paper mills.

For More Information Contact: Greene County Park District, 651 Dayton-Xenia Road, Xenia, OH 45385; 513-376-7441

Shrum Mound, Columbus

Shrum Mound is a well-preserved example of a conical mound constructed by the Adena Culture peoples. The mound is approximately 100 feet in diameter and stands approximately 20 feet tall. Visitors can climb steps to the top of the mound, which is situated in Campbell Park in the City of Columbus.

Highbanks Park Earthworks, Columbus

Highbanks Park is a beautiful park adjacent to the Olentangy River. Two mounds associated with the Adena Culture and a semi-circular earthen embankment associated with the Cole Culture are the archeological features in this park. Visitors can follow trails in the park to these earthworks. A Nature Center at the entrance of the park provides interpretive exhibits on the archeological sites within the park.

Ohio Historical Center, Columbus

The Ohio Historical Center houses many exhibits dealing with the state's history. Visitors can learn about midwest prehistoric cultures, Ohio's natural history, and industrialization through the museum's interpretive exhibits and impressive artifact displays. Museum collections can also be accessed through an online catalog.

Battelle Archaeology Park, Columbus

Battelle Archaeology Park is an interactive museum that offers special educational and public programming. Park activities and exhibits explore the prehistoric and historic past of American Indians in Ohio. Although general access is limited, visitors may be able to participate in several programs offered to the public.

Alligator Mound, Granville

Alligator Mound is a large effigy mound constructed by Fort Ancient Culture peoples in the late prehistoric period. The mound probably represents a panther, but was named Alligator Mound when early Europeans misinterpreted Indian descriptions of what the mound depicted. The mound is approximately 250 feet long and was up to 6 feet high. A raised area covered in rocks is connected to the effigy mound by a prehistoric graded path. The mound can be viewed from Bryn du Drive, but visitors may not walk up to or on top of the mound.

Newark Earthworks State Memorial, Newark

The Newark Earthworks comprise the largest set of geometric earthworks in the world. Three segments of the Newark Earthworks are preserved: Great Circle Earthworks, Octagon Earthworks, and Wright Earthworks. The sites may have been used by the Hopewell for ceremonial and social gatherings. Researchers argue that portions of these earthworks may have also been used as astronomical observation points.

Flint Ridge State Memorial, Glenford

The Flint Ridge quarries provided beautiful, high-quality flint to Native Americans for over 12,000 years. Archeologists have uncovered evidence that Flint Ridge was a neutral area where any Native American could safely access flint to replace their old tools and weapons. A museum containing a prehistoric quarry pit explains how people quarried flint and created tools and weapons.

National Ceramic Museum & Heritage Center, Crooksville

The National Ceramic Museum & Heritage Center (formerly the Ohio Ceramic Center) is a museum with exhibits and demonstrations about local ceramics. Throughout the 19th century, ceramic manufacturers settled in east central Ohio due to nearby clay deposits. Highly artistic ceramics from this area are still popular today. Ohio ceramics from the 19th century can be found in historical archeology sites throughout the region.

Southern Ohio

Shawnee Lookout Park, North Bend

A wide array of archeological features in Shawnee Lookout Park includes several sizeable earthworks, especially the Miami Fort, an earthen enclosure constructed at the upper edge of an elevation near the Miami River. Adena, Hopewell, and Fort Ancient village sites are also located within the park. Visitors can explore the park through a series of trails, the Shawnee Centre, and the Shawnee Lookout archeological museum, which contains more in-depth information on the park's archeology. The museum is open seasonally.

Cincinnati Union Terminal, Cincinnati

The Union Terminal was constructed in 1933 and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977. The terminal now houses the Cincinnati Museum Center.

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati

The exhibits at the Freedom Center chronicle the struggle for freedom both in the past and present. Several exhibits combine archeological and documentary evidence for the conditions of slavery in the United States. The museum's focus, however, extends well beyond the past and provides a unique historical angle on resistance, domination, and the fight for equality.

Fort Ancient State Memorial, Oregonia

Fort Ancient is the largest prehistoric hilltop enclosure in North America. Although called ‘Fort Ancient,’ the name of a late prehistoric archeological culture in Ohio, the Fort Ancient earthworks were built by earlier Hopewell Culture peoples. Original and reconstructed archeological features can be seen throughout the site, including crescent and stone-faced mounds used by the Hopewell to track the sun and moon. In addition to interactive activities for children, Fort Ancient also has a reconstructed prehistoric garden and a museum that covers 15,000 years of Ohio prehistory.

Fort Hill State Memorial, Hillsboro

Fort Hill State Memorial is a nature preserve that contains a Hopewell hilltop enclosure. Archeologists have suggested that the enclosure and three associated structures served both ceremonial and residential purposes.

Serpent Mound State Memorial, Peebles

The Fort Ancient Culture's serpent effigy mound is possibly the most well-known prehistoric earthwork in the region. The sun sets in alignment with the serpent's head on the summer solstice. Visitors can walk around Serpent Mound and explore the museum to learn about the archeology and geology of the site.

Seip Mound, Bainbridge

Seip Mound is the central burial mound of a set of geometric earthworks created by the Hopewell culture. The locations of Hopewell wooden structures were discovered by archeologists and are now marked for the public. These structures may have been used to produce crafts associated with Hopewell burial rituals.

Story Mound, Chillicothe

Story Mound is a round earthen mound constructed by the Adena Culture. In 1897 the mound was excavated by Clarence Loveberry. The excavations revealed the remains of circular timber building, a distinctive type of Adena construction. The mound is approximately 95 feet in diameter and stands approximately 20 feet tall.

Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, Chillicothe

Hopewell Culture National Historical Park contains five major earthworks and about a dozen other archeological sites. Three of the five earthwork sites within the park are open to the public with interpretive paths and nature trails. The visitor center features exhibits about Hopewell culture, an award-winning video, and many of the artifacts found throughout the park, including exquisite effigy pipes. The park also offers educational programs with cultural and archeological themes.

Portsmouth Mound Park, Portsmouth

The Portsmouth Mound complex consists of 20 miles of earthern embankments stretching between Ohio and Kentucky, covering the largest area of any earthwork site in the Ohio Valley. Although most of the Portsmouth earthworks have been destroyed, Mound Park preserves a small section of these once-vast earthen structures.

For More Information Contact: Public Service Department, City of Portsmouth, 55 Mary Ann Street, Portsmouth, OH 45662; 740-354-8807

Logan Elm State Memorial, Circleville

Chief Logan of the Mingo tribe gave an influential speech about the interaction between Indians and white settlers. The elm that Logan reportedly stood beneath while delivering his address died in 1964 and was replaced by a commemorative monument. Although the Logan Elm State Memorial does not have archeological materials associated with it, the monument commemorates and important moment in early relations between Ohio Indians and pioneers.

Tarlton Cross Mound, Tarlton

The Tarlton Cross is a large cross-shaped mound that was most likely constructed by the Hopewell Culture. Visitors can hike to the Tarlton Cross on a foot path through Cross Mound Park.

For More Information Contact: Fairfield County Historical Parks Commission, 407 E. Main Street, Lancaster, OH 43130; 740-681-7249

Leo Petroglyph State Memorial, Jackson

Fort Ancient Indians carved dozens of images of people and animals into the sandstone outcrop at the Leo Petroglyph State Memorial. A pavilion protects these excellently preserved examples of Late Woodland period incised designs. In addition to petroglyphs, the Memorial offers a scenic nature trail that meanders by the impressive sandstone cliffs.

Hartman Mound and the Wolfes Plains Group, The Plains

The Wolfes Plains Group is among the most concentrated of any collection of Adena mounds. The Hartman Mound is the largest of the group, rising 40 feet high. Although all the mounds can be easily viewed from the road, the earthworks are on private land.

For More Information Contact: Athens County Historical Society and Museum, 65 N. Court Street, Athens, OH 45701; 740-592-2280

Campus Maritus Museum, Marietta

The Campus Martius Museum explores the nature of early contact between European settlers and American Indian populations in the Ohio region. The Museum also has exhibits on early Ohio pioneers, migration in Ohio’s history, and early government and life in 18th-century Ohio. The Campus Martius Museum itself is situated on the location of the first Northwest Territory American settlement.

  • Indian Mill building.
  • Rendering of petroglyphs on Inscription Rock. (Kelleys Island
Historical Association)
  • Archaic-era dugout boat. (Cleveland Museum of Natural History)
  • Marbles found during archeology work in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. (NPS photo)
  • Depiction of Fort Laurens. (Ohio Historical Association)
  • Reconstructed farm at Schoenbrunn. (Ohio Historical Society)
  • Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor. (Society for Industrial Archeology)
  • Historic photo of ceramics makers. (Photo copyright Catherine S. Vodrey)
  • Restored farm at Piqua Historical Area.
  • Lockington Locks. (Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau)
  • Reconstructed Fort Ancient house at SunWatch Indian Village.
  • Enon Mound, ca. 1937.
  • Boardwalk at Cedar Bog. (Ohio Cultural Facilities Commision)
  • Indian Mound Reserve.
  • Shrum Mound. (Archaeological Society of Ohio)
  • Adena mound in Highbanks Park. (Photo by Don Burmeister)
  • Ohio Historical Center. (Larry Hamill)
  • Boys work on a dugout canoe. (Digital Photo by M Highmiller, 2001 OHS)
  • Drawing of Alligator Mound. (David Wyrick 1837)
  • Newark's Octogon mound. (JQ Jacobs)
  • Stone points from Flint Ridge. ( 2006  Ohio Historical Society)
  • Gondor Ceramics Piggybank Cookie Jar at the National Ceramic Museum & Heritage Center.
  • Pioneer cabin at Shawnee Lookout park.
  • Cincinnati Union Terminal.
  • Family escapes to freedom via the Underground Railroad.
  • Depiction of Fort Ancient village life.
  • Fort Hill.
  • Serpent Mound.
  • Seip Mound.
  • Story Mound.
  • Hopewell mica claw.
  • Detail from postcard of Portsmouth Mound Park.
  • Logan Elm State Memorial. (Elizabeth Larson Copyright  1996-2001)
  • Map of Tarlton Cross. (Squier and Davis 1848)
  • Leo Petroglyph.
  • Hartman Mound, The Plains.
  • Campus Martius Museum.

SK/MJB