Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Adena’

“Digging the Past” at Campus Martius Museum in Marietta, Ohio

Campus Martius Museum in Marietta, Ohio

Campus Martius Museum in Marietta, Ohio

Dig into the past and discover facts about people who lived hundreds or even thousands of years ago. At Campus Martius Museum in Marietta, Ohio, those interested in archaeology had an exciting day called “Digging the Past”. Special displays by area people, who are interested in what is under the ground, provided valuable information for anyone who wished to listen.

One of the speakers at Archaeology presentation

One of the speakers at Archaeology presentation

Five knowledgeable archaeologists and collectors gave slide show lectures on various archaeological subjects. Some of my favorite dealt with the various groups of mounds around the state of Ohio. Bruce Lambardo, ranger at the Hopewell Culture National Historic Park, explained why we should change the term “mounds” to “earthworks”. These structures are not just piles of dirt built by early Native Americans, but precise, geometrical art works that were not only enormous in size, but also aligned astronomically. He described the Hopewell Culture site near Chillicothe as the most spectacular configuration of Earthworks in the world.

Dr. Jarrod Burks, Director of Archaeological Geophyics at Ohio Valley Archaeology, discussed the earthworks throughout the state including Newark, Chillicothe, and Marietta. While many of the mounds have been destroyed by farming and housing developments, there are still new ones being discovered in the last fifty years.

Mound City Artifacts explained.

Mound City Artifacts explained.

There seemed to be a strong connection between the Newark and Chillicothe Earthworks when they were constructed in 300 B.C. – 400 A.D. These earth architects constructed these ceremonial mounds, where the circles had the exact same diameter, and squares measured the same corner to corner. Even more exacting was the fact that the circle would fit perfectly inside the square. How did these early people perform such mathematically correct shapes and even have them aligned to the winter and summer solstices? How did they construct Great Hopewell Road directly between the two mound centers? Either they were geniuses or perhaps they had some extraterrestrial help. Keep your mind open to all possibilites.

Wes Clark explained his finds at The Castle Museum, where pottery and earthworks artifacts have been discovered. Nathaniel Clark Pottery (1808 -1849) existed on the same site as today’s Castle, so many pieces of pottery have been discovered from red earthenware to stoneware. Earthworks artifacts also frequently appear, including flint arrowheads.

From all the buttons found at the military sites, Archaeologist Greg Shipley remarked, with a smile, that the thread must not have been very strong. A wide variety of buttons appeared in archaeological digs in western Ohio military sites while looking for footprints of an outpost there. The hot spot for buttons seemed to be in the area of the taverns.

Flint Knapper demonstrates skills.

Flint Knapper demonstrates skills.

Flint knappers displayed  the intricate methods they use to shape the pieces of flint found. Their methods are beyond my description as they magically formed arrowheads by chipping and shaping the layers of the flint. Long ago the Indians used either stone or bone to shape their arrows from flint, in much the same manner. After use, the arrowheads would need re-sharpened by removing flakes to reshape, so they would get smaller and sharper as time passed. The flint knapper at Marietta had been creating flint pieces for fifteen years so was quite excellent at his craft.

Archaeology displays filled the lobby of Campus Martius Museum.

Archaeology displays filled the lobby of Campus Martius Museum.

Numerous displays throughout the lobby included historic artifacts from collections around the state. Not only were there Indian artifacts from the Adena and Hopewell people, but also artifacts from military camps of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars as well as historic Marietta.  The Pipe Tomahawk intrigued me with a head that has an ax on one edge with a pipe bowl on the other. It enjoyed multiple uses as a pipe to smoke, a ceremonial instrument, and also a weapon.

Tomahawk Peace Pipe

Tomahawk Peace Pipe had several uses.

Campus Martius Museum in Marietta holds informative speakers throughout the year on a wide variety of subjects. If you are interested in Ohio history, check out their schedule at Campus Martius Museum website.

Marietta is located on the beautiful Ohio River just off I-77. Take Exit 1 to downtown Marietta and follow State Route 7 / 60. Turn left on Washington Street and one block down on the right hand side, you’ll see Campus Martius Museum. There is parking to the right of the building or one block behind at the Ohio River Museum. Visit both museums if time permits.

 

 

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The Marietta Mound Cemetery Burial Ground for Heroes of War and Peace

Marietta Mound Cemetery in Marietta, Ohio

Marietta Mound Cemetery in Marietta, Ohio

Since the prehistoric Moundbuilders came to the Ohio Valley and Marietta, sometime between 800 BC and 700 AD, those early ancients remain quite mysterious. It is thought the Adena culture built The Great Mound, where Marietta Mound Cemetery is today located. The Hopewell, descendents of the Adena culture, are responsible for a portion of the mounds in the Marietta complex.

Sacra Via, The Sacred Way

Sacra Via – The Sacred Way

From the Muskingum River to what is now 2nd Street, a roadway called Sacra Via, meaning Sacred Way, was constructed of white crushed mussel shells, which made a solid pavement. The reflective light from the moon on the mussel shells almost made it seem like a lighted path when the ships would dock on the Ohio and Muskingum RIvers. Today that Sacred Way is maintained as a public park where the Ohio Land Company members are honored.

Large Pyramid Mound in Marietta Mound Complex

Large Pyramid Mound in Marietta Mound Complex

Sacra Via continued to what is now called the Marietta Earthworks. This archeological complex included a large square enclosure surrounding four flat-topped pyramidal mounds, another smaller square and the conical shaped mound in the cemetery. Brick walls enclosed the Sacred Way from the Muskingum River to the Quadranaou, the largest flat topped earthen pyramid. The walls of the enclosure were aligned with the winter solstice since astrology played a major role in celebrations and rituals of those early cultures. The bricks were removed in 1843 to use as home foundations.

Great Mound, Conus

Great Mound – Conus

The roadway ended at the largest mound, called Great Mound or Conus, where city developers created a cemetery, Marietta Mound Cemetery, in 1801.  More Revolutionary War officers are buried in this county than at any other place in the United States. General Rufus Putnam and General Benjamin Tupper, both founders of the Ohio Land Company, are buried here. Serving originally as the burial place for chieftains, 30′ tall Conus is the Adena culture’s largest conical, ringed mound still visible today.

Rock covering capsule at top of the Great Mound

Rock covering capsule at top of the Great Mound

To keep the mound from being destroyed, original pioneers in Marietta had the cemetery fenced in back in 1837. When a slight excavation of the site occurred, bones of an adult Adena Indian and some of his possessions were discovered buried in a horizontal position and covered with a large stone. Once it was discovered this was a burial site, further excavation was halted. The mound was sowed with grass, and stone steps were built to the top. Those same steps can be climbed today with the addition of a handrail for easier climbing.

Ditch and embankment surrounding The Great Mound

Ditch and embankment surrounding Conus

After climbing 45 steps, the top of the tree covered mound has benches for resting and viewing the city of Marietta,   A cool breeze was welcome after the strenuous climb but it lasted only a minute.  From the top you can see the 15′ wide ditch and  4′ deep embankment that surround Conus.  An interesting stone at the top of Conus states: Beneath this stone is a time capsule placed here in commemoration of the bicentennial celebration of the United States of America. Junior Bicentennial Commission, July 3, 1976 to be opened July 4, 2076.

Here in this cemetery, seen from high on the mound, are buried a Moundbuilder chief, veterans of the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican, Civil and Spanish American Wars plus many heroes of peace. The spirits of those who helped build this nation live on.

Marietta Mound Cemetery is located in Marietta, Ohio off I-77. Take Exit 1 along the beautiful Ohio River following Route 7 West. The cemetery is located at the intersection of 5th Street and Scammel Street. From Route 7, turn right on Greene Street / 7th Street, then right onto 4th Street and another right onto Scammel Street. The Cemetery will be directly in front of you. You can’t miss it!

Mammoth Mound Mysteries Grave Creek Mound Complex

Mammoth Grave Creek Mound in Moundsville, WV

Mammoth Grave Creek Mound in Moundsville, WV

Step back in time, way back in time, to 200 BC.  Buried beneath the surface of this gigantic mound in Moundsville, West Virginia are ancient treasures from two thousand years ago.

Driving past this 62′ high mound, many people possibly see it merely as a big pile of dirt. But when you explore inside the Grave Creek Mound Archeological Complex located beside it, you discover surprises regarding this unusual structure in Moundsville near the Ohio River. For many it will get their mental wheels turning as they want to search for more information.

To get a better picture of the area in your mind, Grave Creek Mound, the largest conical mound in the United States, is 62′ high with a base of 240′ and was surrounded with a moat, which has since been filled in. There was only one way across the moat – an earthen path. This was part of a much larger ceremonial area, which seemed to begin at the Ohio River.

The mound was built over a period of 200 years with burial vaults at different layers.

The mound was built over a period of 200 years with burial vaults at different layers.

This Adena burial mound required a lot of work to move 60,000 Tons of earth to form this mound over a period of years.  Included are multiple burials at different levels from 250 – 150 BC. It appears to have been build in stages with most of the burials being by cremation.

Since it seems that people arrived on the Ohio River, there was what many called a Sacred Way leading from the river to The Mound. But the Way didn’t stop there, as it turned at right angles to an octagon shape, which is no longer in existence. This Sacred Way was actually paved back 2000 years ago…with mussel shells. How do we know this? When ground was moved for building the homes and stores in Moundsville, layers of mussel shells several inches thick were found along The Sacred Way. Hopefully, you are beginning to form a picture of what could have been.

Display at Grave Creek Mound of objects found during an early dig at the mound.

Display at Grave Creek Mound of objects found during an early dig at the mound.

Back in 1838, some curious amateurs decided to do a little exploring of their own and began digging into The Mound with gusto through two shafts, one horizontal and one vertical. Their discoveries were surprising, but they had little idea of how much historic information they had really pulled from the ground. A burial vault made of logs and smooth stones from the river was found in the center near ground level. It contained two skeletons with tools, beads, pipes and ornaments indicating these were important people in their culture.

A most amazing skeleton, which they named Tasach for reasons to be given later, appeared at the bottom layer of the earthen mound.  The items found either on his body or with his body were quite astonishing. Around its 7’2″ frame were pieces of sea shells- some scattered and others formed into beads. On the wrist were seven copper bracelets and around the waist was a band of small mica squares. What do all of these pieces mean?

Replica of Grave Creek Tablet

Replica of Grave Creek Tablet

To add to the mystery, near the second, smaller skeleton was a small, flat sandstone tablet with three lines of symbols indicating a form of communication during that long ago time. This has become known as the Grave Creek Tablet and one of many interpretations, but the one that seems likely in my mind reads:

“The mound raised on high for Tasach. This tile his queen caused to be made.”

My first thought was that perhaps Tasach was a leader of an ancient tribe.  Since copper and mica both resonate with healing qualities, perhaps he was considered a shaman. He may have appeared at the octagon shaped structure and greeted visitors, who came by boat on the Ohio River then walked the Sacred Way through the Mound and to the octagon.  It would seem this was perhaps a spiritual ceremony of some nature by people over 2000 years ago.  Remarkable! But that was just my interpretation. Wonder what ideas you might have?

Shortly after that early  excavation, in 1843 local enthusiasts decided to use the two excavation shafts into The Mound as a museum. In the horizontal bricked shaft was an underground exhibit of the skeleton discovered with his buried treasures as well as an early gift shop. Inside the vertical shaft, a spiral staircase was built to allow visitors a way to the top of the mound where a three-story observatory was constructed. The museum was short-lived as the walls came tumbling inward, but a second stone museum was built on the south side of the mound in 1941 with many of the items available for sale having been made by the prisoners at the penitentiary across the street.

Replica of Pre-Indian skull found in 1838 excavation

Replica of Pre-Indian skull found in 1838 excavation

Today’s modern museum is housed in the Grave Creek Mound Archeological Complex, which shares many of the mysteries of The Mound with visitors through exhibits and video presentations. It opens the mind to exploring the wonders of time before the Native American Indians. These early visitors on our lands had far reaching commerce as items were from all over the country and the world. Their architectural skills were amazing and nearly all of their structures were perfectly aligned mathematically with the sun , the moon, and the stars.

Where did these people come from?  Where did they go? The mysteries continue.

The Mound is located in Moundsville, West Virginia. Just ten miles south of Wheeling along the east bank of the beautiful Ohio River. From Wheeling, follow Route 2 into Moundsville. Turn left on 8th Street and after two blocks turn right onto Jefferson Ave. The mound is too large to miss!

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