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Late Prehistoric Period (1,100 - 400 Before the Present)

The beginning of the Late Prehistoric Period in Ohio was marked by several dramatic changes. Most importantly, maize became a staple food for indigenous populations. Villages became larger and more permanent. Available evidence suggests that leadership positions became institutionalized and ritual practices changed during this period. As in the Late Woodland period, villages were often surrounded by stockade walls.

Fort Ancient Culture

The Fort Ancient Culture thrived during the Late Prehistoric Period in southern Ohio and northern Kentucky, but may have also extended into Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. Fort Ancient villages were relatively large and consisted of circular or rectangular houses that surrounded a central open plaza area. Pentagonal flint knives and triangular arrow points were stone tool types particular to Fort Ancient Culture.

People of the Fort Ancient Culture built several large earthworks, including the largest effigy mound in the United States, Serpent Mound. However, Fort Ancient peoples did not build earthworks at the same scale and frequency as the earlier Hopewell Culture.

In addition to earthworks, Fort Ancient people also made rock images, or petroglyphs. Leo Petroglyph, near Jackson, Ohio, is a sandstone outcrop inscribed with pictures of animals, people, and footprints.