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/
Poverty Point in Louisiana is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as a National Monument. Constructed over 3,000 years ago, its tall earthen mounds make up one of the best known examples of monumental architecture created by a community of hunter gatherers before the adoption of agriculture. The earthworks include a bird-shaped effigy mound and a series of concentric, C-shaped ridges. Recent geoarchaeological evidence suggests that the mounds were constructed incredibly quickly, especially considering the technology available. Mound A, one of the later mounds, is estimated to contain 8.4 million cubic feet of dirt and may have been constructed in fewer than 90 days.
Archaeological Fun Fact: Poverty Point was part of a long-distance trade network, importing mainly stones and minerals. These materials were used to make tools and ornaments, including polished stone beads shaped like animals.
Park website: www.nps.gov/popo/