Hopewell Culture
since the discovery of the conspicuous mounds in Ross County Ohio, the Hopewell
have been an archaeological enigma to many. The tradition is so named for the
owner of the farm, Captain Hopewell, where over thirty mounds were discovered.

Earlier studies focused more on the exotic grave goods such as precious metals,
freshwater pearls, many of these objects had come from all corners of the
continent from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico, and north to the
mid-Atlantic coastline (some say Hopewellian influence reached Nova Scotia).

Earlier scholars of the Hopewell (1950’s through 1960’s) were well aware of
the influence of the "Interaction Sphere", yet concluded that the Hopewell,
in terms of lifestyle were a cult and had no influence on daily life. Later
studies suggest otherwise, as more and more information surfaces along with new
insightful interpretations. It is widely accepted that the Hopewell are the"next generation" of the Adena. That is to say that the Adena gave rise to
the Hopewell, who had, as speculated migrated into the Ohio River Valley from

Illinois. The Hopewell have been described as a more elaborate and flamboyant
version of the Adena. Whether the Hopewell overpowered the Adena or simply
mingled with and mixed into the culture, is not certain, yet there has been no
evidence of warfare to support the former. The result was a cultural explosion
encompassing a vast majority of North America east of the Rocky Mountains to the

Atlantic coast. The Hopewell flourished in the Middle Woodland from 200 B.C. to

AD 500. The environment was nearly what it is today. Temperate with lakes,
streams, wetlands and flood-plains, the people took advantage of the seasonal
weather in the Ohio River Valley via foraging as well as hunting and gathering.

The cultivation of domestic strains of beans and maize was well on its way as it
was implemented in small amounts, catching on later in the time period. The
vegetation was a prairie/forest mix of deciduous trees, walnut, oak, various
grasses and shrub. The fauna of the region included many species of waterfowl,
turkey and other species in great abundance that are found today (perhaps in
more abundance than found today). Larger fauna included buffalo, bison, deer,
and elk and smaller animals such as rodents, raccoons, beaver and the like.

Aquatic life included freshwater mussels and clams, many fishes (bass, catfish,
etc.) and turtles. As we will see, the people made abundant use of these flora
and fauna as food, clothing, container, ceremonial and ornamental objects. As
for changes through time in the environment, it is theorized (by some) that it
did in fact shift to a wetter one, perhaps driving the people to higher ground
or otherwise drier climates. Core settlement, as noted was along the Ohio River
and its estuaries on flood-plains, as well as on or near wetlands. Major areas
of population density include Newark and Chillicothe as well as Marietta. These
areas provided a lush environment of flora and fauna species that were widely
exploited over the centuries by the inhabitants. Living quarters, although
scarcely studied, consist of scattering’s of small villages with larger
settlements located near and around major mound complexes. Some of these smaller
villages seem to have been occupied seasonally while settlement was more than
likely permanent in the larger loci surrounding the mounds. Some dwellings have
been found to consist of saplings stuck into the ground in a circle, brought
together in the center and covered with elm bark or mats of woven grasses. Post
molds from various areas in Ohio and Illinois indicate oval patterns as well as
rectangular long-houses with rounded corners. Larger houses ranged from 18 to 25
feet long and one was as large as 44x48 feet, suggesting a large gathering
place, perhaps for trading, council meetings or ceremonial practices. The dress
of the people reflected their beliefs, trading practices and even wealth.

Ornaments were worn head to foot. Women’s hair were pinned back with dowels of
wood or bone in a bun or knot and a long sort of ponytail. When nursing, women
wore their hair braided and tied up in a shorter ponytail that was held together
by a mesh or net-like bag. Typical male hairstyle was a sort of mohawk on top
with their hair pulled back into a bun in the back. As for male dress, a warrior
wore a loincloth of dyed material with patterns on it (resembling a diaper; for
lack of better description). He carried a long spear, an atl-atl, wearing
various necklaces of bone, shell and stone beads including