The Hopewell Indian Mound builders and their mysterious culture


Future site of Circleville, Ohio

When white men began to explore the remote wilderness that one day would become the State of Ohio, they discovered hundreds of earthen works and mounds, many built in unusual geometric designs. Many were in the shapes of animals such as snakes, birds, and other animals.  Some theorized the large mounds were built by a lost tribe of  Israel.  Most found them a novelty at best and they were plowed under for farm land and settlements.

Now we know these mounds were built by prehistoric people we call the Hopewell and Adena cultures. Not much  was known of these prehistoric people by the Indians who came later and settled in this area. No one knows what these people called themselves. No one knows what became of them.  Ohio was the center of their culture. Ohio has the largest number of mounds and artifacts of these ancient cultures than anywhere else  in the United States. Some of these mounds and artifacts date back to the time the Great Pyramids were being built in Egypt. There are many theories of who they were and where they learned how to build the complex mounds.  Some have even said there is evidence they were in contact with the Maya and Aztec Indians cultures who built the large stone pyramids in Mexico, Central and South America.

It has been learned these prehistoric people knew much about astronomy.  In Newark, Ohio the large earthen works is thought to be a large Lunar Observatory.  Many of the mounds were burial sites.  All that is known of these ancient people is from what has been found in the mounds.  Hundreds of clay pipes in the shapes of animals and people have been discovered.  One artifact shows a shaman, or witchdoctor cloaked in a   hide  transforming into a bear.  Elaborate jewelry made of copper, mica, and seashells have been unearthed.

These people traveled throughout the US and traded with other groups.  Jewry made of Mica, copper boxes, shark teeth, seashells,  and other items not native to Ohio have been discovered. Remnants of their clothing made of milkweed and stamped with complex geometric designs have been found in burial mounds.   A copper covered mountain goat horn was discovered in a mound.  There were and are no mountain goats in Ohio.

Sadly in my opinion Ohio does not seem to appreciate these complex and mysterious cultures and provides little protection of prehistoric sites.  That is not to say Ohio does preserve some of the larger mounds.  Sadly mounds on private property continue to be plowed under.  Some towns and individuals have chosen to fence off a mound.  In recent years a professor at Ohio State University, Doctor Bradley T. Lepper has done very interesting research on these ancient cultures.  He has theorized the Hopewell Indians built a straight pathway known as  The Great Hopewell Road from the large complex in Newark, Ohio, to another large complex of mounds in Chillicothe, Ohio.  His book, Ohio Archeology  is a fascinating read.

My home, the town of Circleville was originally built within a large square and round complex of earthen mounds. In the country side around Circleville are several isolated Indian mounds. In a small park outside of the village of Tarlton, Ohio is an earthen cross carved from a bank high above a creek.  The cross in aligned with North, South, East and West. Some researchers believe it may have been part of the 62 mile Great Hopewell Road connecting the Earthworks of Newark to the complex of mounds in Chillicothe, Ohio.

In my three novels, The 415 Raspberry Picket Trilogy I have used the Hopewell Indian Mounds to weave a story of magic, mystery, and adventure.  In the second book, “The Cursed Seed” Uncle Rubus a powerful wizard and his young nephew Darach who reside in a house in a small town much like Circleville, discover a copper box containing something of great worth and power within a Hopewell burial mound of a long dead Shaman.

The Hopewell mounds and their way of life is Ohio’s ‘Egyptian culture.’  The people, their religion,  their knowledge of astronomy and reasons for building complex geometric earthen mounds is shrouded in mystery and wonderment. Were their earthen mounds and complex geometric designs a map of the stars above? Who were they?  Why were they a mystery to the Indians who followed and settled in Ohio? What is the meaning of their large mica hand carvings?  How were they able to establish trading routes with partners hundreds of miles from Ohio? Why was building a 62 mile road from one large complex to another so important to them?   So little is known about these ancient people.  There are so many unanswered questions and hidden secrets…


The Seven Sacred Seeds

The Cursed Seed

The Seed of the Wormwood

newark indian mounds-lunar observatory

Newark, Ohio-Lunar Observatory

hope shaman turning into a bear with head on belt

Hopewell Shaman turning into a bear

elaborate mounds

Example of complex geometric designs of earthen works and mounds


Hopewell Indian Mica hand

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