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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.

Useful Links for Ohio Archeology and History

Northern Ohio

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 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.

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.

Museum of Ceramics, East Liverpool

Archeologists find lots of ceramics, and 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. Exhibits explore the influence of the ceramic industry on late 19th-century lifestyles in East Liverpool.

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.

Miamisburg Mound, Miamisburg

Visitors may 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 Ohio's environment looked like to its inhabitants 10,000 years ago. 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. 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.

Shrum Mound, Columbus

Shrum Mound is a well-preserved example of a conical mound constructed by the Adena Culture peoples. Visitors can climb steps to the top of the mound.

Highbanks Park Earthworks, Columbus

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

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.

Alligator Mound, Granville

Alligator Mound is a large effigy mound constructed by Fort Ancient Culture peoples. The mound probably represents a panther, but was named Alligator Mound when early Europeans misinterpreted Indian descriptions of what the mound depicted. 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.

The Clay Center of Ohio, Crooksville

The Clay Center of Ohio 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

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.

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati

The Freedom Center chronicles the struggle for freedom 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. See interactive activities for children, a reconstructed prehistoric garde, and a museum.

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.

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 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.

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.

Leo Petroglyph State Memorial, Jackson

Fort Ancient Indians carved dozens of images of people and animals into the sandstone outcrop. A pavilion protects 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.

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.

  • 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)
  • Historic photo of ceramics makers. (Photo copyright Catherine S. Vodrey)
  • Restored farm at Piqua Historical Area.
  • 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)
  • Drawing of Alligator Mound. (David Wyrick 1837)
  • Newark's Octogon mound. (JQ Jacobs)
  • Stone points from Flint Ridge. ( 2006  Ohio Historical Society)
  • Pioneer cabin at Shawnee Lookout park.
  • 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.

SK/MJB