Description: Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, formerly known as Mound City Group National Monument, is a United States national historical park with earthworks and burial mounds from the Hopewell culture, a cultural complex of ancestral Native Americans. The park is comprised of five separate sites in Ross County, Ohio. The park includes archeological resources from the Hopewell culture, and is administered by the United States Department of the Interior's National Park Service.
From about 200 BC to AD 500, the Ohio River Valley was a focal point of the prehistoric Hopewell culture. The term Hopewell (taken from an early farmer who owned the land where one of the mound complexes was located) describes a broad network of beliefs and practices among different Native American groups over a large portion of eastern North America. The culture is characterized by the construction of enclosures made of earthen walls, often built in geometric patterns, and mounds of various shapes. Visible remnants of Hopewell culture are concentrated in the Scioto River valley near present-day Chillicothe, Ohio. The most striking Hopewell sites contain earthworks in the form of squares, circles, and other geometric shapes. Many of these sites were built to a monumental scale, with earthen walls up to 12 feet high outlining geometric figures more than 1000 feet across. Conical and loaf-shaped earthen mounds up to 30 feet high are often found in association with the geometric earthworks.
City, located on Ohio Highway 104 approximately four miles north of Chillicothe along the Scioto River, is a group of 23 earthen mounds constructed by the Hopewell culture. Each mound within the Mound City Group covered the remains of a charnel house. After the Hopewell people cremated the dead, as they burned the charnel house their practice was too construct a mound over the remains. They also placed artifacts, such as copper figures, mica, arrowheads, shells, and pipes in the mounds.
The site was first mapped in the 1840s, but much of it was destroyed during World War I when sprawling Camp Sherman, a military training base, was constructed on the site. In the early 1920s, the camp was razed and the mounds recreated. In 1923, the Mound City Group was declared a National Monument, administered by the Federal government. In 1992, Mound City Group became Hopewell Culture National Historic Park, along with the remnants of four other nearby earthwork and mound systems.
Two of the other Ross County sites with the overall park are also open to the public (within a few miles of Mound City). Seip Earthworks is located 17 miles west of Chillicothe on U.S. Route 50; it is administered by the Ohio Historical Society. Hopewell Mound Group is the site of the 1891 excavation on the land of Capt. Mordecai Hopewell (for whom the Hopewell culture is named). Two other local sites, High Bank Works and Hopeton Earthworks, are not open to visitors, but are maintained by the National Park Service. Another fifteen mound complexes in the county have been lost to agriculture or urban development and no longer exist. There are a number of other mound systems and elaborate earthworks in the southern Ohio area that are maintained by the Ohio Historical Society, including Serpent Mound.
The park contains nationally significant archeological resources including large earthwork and mound complexes that provide an insight into the social, ceremonial, political, and economic life of the Hopewell people. The park visitors center features museum exhibits, an orientation film, book sales area, and self-guided and guided tours.