Key Adena Earthworks and Preserve Saved in Ohio
A consortium of preservation groups made history on March 18 by winning a land auction for one of the most important surviving Adena earthworks of the Ohio Valley.
Pledges came in even after bidding had commenced, which made for a tense and emotional end. Preservationists walked away the incipient owners not only of the tract with the main earthwork cluster, but all the wooded parcels adjoining the tract, as well as the strip of creek bank to assure future protection—fitting because the ancient works appear to have been constructed originally as part of a wildlife preserve. A local farmer won the remaining crop land, so developers present left empty-handed.
The territory of Ohio hosted between 10,000 and 30,000 Native American burial mounds and related earthworks at the time of seizure by Euro-Americans, according to different estimates. The vast majority are gone to plows and pavement.
The Junction Group, however, will now be saved from destructive development “in perpetuity.” Donors from around the country who pledged on short notice, without even time for an educational campaign about the site, have accomplished more than they know, because the Junction Group earthworks may be one of the premiere archaeoastronomical sites on the planet, as well as playing a special role in demonstrating the original purpose of these earthworks and the linkage between the prehistoric Adena Civilization and the historic Shawnee and their Algonquian kin, a linkage already suggested by genetics, linguistics, and archaeology.
The Junction Group is the remnant of an enigmatic set of nine clustered geometric earthworks that lies in a farm field at the southwest border of the city of Chillicothe—four circles, three semicircles, a square, and a unique enclosure that resembles a four-leaf clover. A video to support the fundraising campaign showing the site as it is today can be seen here:
(Warning: the video was produced quickly and not everything is accurate.)
Though no radiocarbon dating is available, the earthworks were likely built between 400 BCE and 1 CE, during what is known as the Early Woodland Period, based on similarities with other dated sites. These, then, are Adena works, though often erroneously described as “Hopewell.” Well-known Serpent Mound, which slithers along a ridge 20 miles to the west, has recently been radiocarbon dated to that same period. Algonquian Indians, ancestors of the Shawnee, Miami, Fox, Sak, Kickapoo, Ojibwe and related tribes were the builders.
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