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100 Years Ago

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About the Formative or Woodland Period

Throughout much of the United States, 1,000 BC - 1,000 AD ushered in an era known as the Formative Period; however, in the East, (including Ohio), it was also known as the Woodland Period. The Adena Indians were this region’s foremost inhabitants with a zone of influence that stretched through much of the Midwest, including the Ohio Valley, and the eastern part of the United States.

The name Adena came from a period in the late 1830s when archaeologists studied almost 300 prehistoric mounds east of the Mississippi River. Some of the mounds were on the farm of Thomas Worthington in Ross County. Mr. Worthington (shown at right) was a prominent man, serving as Ohio’s sixth governor and first U.S. Senator. He also entertained James Monroe and Tecumseh at his estate.

Mr. Worthington called his home ‘Adena’, which is a Hebrew word meaning ‘beautiful place.’ The view from Worthington's hilltop estate across the valley to Mount Logan is said to have inspired the design of Ohio's Great Seal (shown below at right).

The archaeologists who explored these mounds then called the people who once lived there the Adena people. Later, they explored the mounds on the farm of M.C. Hopewell in Ross County. The artifacts were different from those at the Adena site, so archaeologists called the builders of these mounds the Hopewell people.  The Adena were prolific mound builders; built primarily as lavish tombs and temples to their dead that were furnished with a multitude of items.

Around 200 BC the Adena influence waned as other native peoples ranging from Ontario, Canada, to Arkansas and Florida in the south became the Adena’s equals. The Adena tradition of mound building and other aspects of their advanced culture became integral elements in the formation of this new culture that covered the eastern third of the continent. It embraced many different native peoples, and language groups, that eventually became known as the Hopewell culture and the Hopewell people.

'Indian' segment written in December, 1997 by David Lodge


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Thomas Worthington

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