Located in central Ohio, Hopewell Culture National Historical Park encompasses six different sites of earthworks and burial mounds that represent the so-called Hopewell people who inhabited the area in the 3rd century BC through approximately 500 AD. Typical Hopewell constructions consist of large enclosures that can have walls up to 12 feet high and contain packed earth in geometric shapes, while mounds can rise to more than 30 feet in height and have been found to contain cremated human remains and skillfully fashioned objects—including effigy pipes, mirrors, tools, and jewelry—of ceramic, shell, flint, mica, and copper: a testament to the sophistication of far-flung trade routes and artistic craftsmanship among indigenous groups in this period.
Archaeological Fun Fact: Early documentation of the Hopewell sites and excavation was undertaken by a local Ohio doctor named Edwin Hamilton Davis and his partner, Ephraim George Squier. The two published the seminal Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley in 1848 but had a falling out at around that time that ended their working partnership.
Park website: www.nps.gov/hocu/
Ocmulgee was occupied from Paleoindian times, more than 10,000 years ago, to the nineteenth century. The site’s monumental earthworks were constructed by the Mississippian culture, around AD 950-1150. Visitors to this site in central Georgia can see an original Mississippian earth lodge and view over 2,000 artifacts, from all periods of the site’s occupation, in the on-site museum.
Archaeological Fun Fact: During the 1930s, Ocmulgee was the site of one of the largest archaeological projects ever conducted in the United States. More than 800 men employed by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Depression-era works projects labored under the direction of Smithsonian Institute archaeologist Arthur R. Kelly. The project trained a generation of new archaeologists and propelled the field of Southeastern archaeology forward.
Park website: www.nps.gov/ocmu/