Not many know this, but the lower Little Miami River Valley is extremely rich in earthwork sites. In the area of Milford and Newtown the number and spacing of large earthwork complexes matches that of the Chillicothe area—and that’s a lot of earthworks! However, the lower Little Miami River Valley is today a suburban landscape, with many housing developments, roads, and shopping centers. Like many large earthwork complexes in Ohio, the earthworks near Milford have been gobbled up by this suburban sprawl. The Milford Earthworks site appeared on maps in the early-mid 1800s, including the map made by Edwin Davis shown here. But if it wasn’t for Dache Reeves and his love of photographing earthworks from the air in the early 1930s, we would have a very hard time pinpointing the location of this large earthwork site—it is barely visible on subsequent photos from 1949, ’52, and ’60. Today, you would be hard pressed to find even a sliver of the site that remains intact.
posted by Jarrod Burks
February 17, 2013
The Hopeton Works are a large complex of earthworks (primarily earthen embankments) built by Native Americans (commonly referred to by archaeologists as the Hopewell) in the third century A.D. They were first mapped in the early 1800s by Thomas Worthington, who at the time owned the property on which they reside. In 1846, a couple of fellows from the Chillicothe area, Ephraim Squier and Edwin Davis, made their own map of the place, which they published in their famous book Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley (1848). The first known aerial photograph of the site, taken in 1934 by Dache M. Reeves caught the larger enclosures on film, but the parallel walls were barely visible (from the Dache M. Reeves Collection, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution). The 1938 USDA aerial photo here clearly shows the large circle and “square” mapped by Squier and Davis, and it is the last time that the parallel walls running west from the main complex were visible—they are not evident in any subsequent aerial photos and they have defied clear detection with modern geophysical survey instruments. The Hopeton Works are now part of Hopewell Culture National Historical Park and they can be visited during tours periodically led by the National Park Service. For more information about the Hopeton Works, see:
and browse the issues of the Hopewell Archeology Newsletter:
posted by Jarrod Burks
January 28, 2013