FORT ANCIENT STATE MEMORIAL
Fort Ancient features 18,000 feet of earthen walls built 2,000 years ago by American Indians who used the shoulder blades of deer, split elk antler, clam shell hoes and digging sticks to dig the dirt. They then carried the soil in baskets holding 35 to 40 pounds. Portions of these walls were used in conjunction with the sun and moon to provide a calendar system for these peoples.
The site offers beautiful vistas along hiking trails as well as the remains of the prehistoric mounds for visitors to see. Convenient picnic areas can be found along the road at the site.
The Museum at Fort Ancient, newly built and containing 9000 sq. ft. of new exhibits opened on 22 March 1998. These new exhibits, containing many interactive units, focus on 15,000 years of American Indian history in the Ohio Valley. The Museum also contains a classroom, a research area, and a sales shop with many fine American Indian items.
Fort Ancient State Memorial, also known as Fort Ancient Earthworks and Nature Preserve, is an archaeological site located in Warren County, Ohio, along the eastern bank of the Little Miami River. The site contains one of the largest and best-preserved prehistoric hilltop enclosures in North America and has a rich history.
The earliest evidence of human presence in the Fort Ancient area dates back nearly 3,000 years. Around 1000 BCE, Native American communities began constructing a network of earthen mounds and embankments for various purposes, including defense and ceremonial activities. These early earthworks were relatively simple but marked the beginnings of what eventually became the Fort Ancient culture.
By around 1000 CE, the Fort Ancient people had developed a sophisticated society and built the extensive earthworks that can be seen at the site today. The enclosure covers around 100 acres and consists of walls, moats, causeways, and numerous mounds. The purpose of the site is still not entirely understood, but it is believed to have served as a ceremonial center, a religious site, and a place for social gatherings.
The Fort Ancient people were part of the larger Mississippian culture that flourished throughout the Ohio River Valley during this time. They were engaged in the extensive trade networks that spanned across the region, connecting different Native American groups. Evidence suggests that Fort Ancient was a significant hub in this trade network, exchanging goods such as copper, marine shells, and various other resources.
European explorers and settlers arrived in the Ohio region during the 17th and 18th centuries. Fort Ancient was abandoned and no longer utilized by Native American groups by this time, but the site's impressive earthworks drew the attention of early European settlers. Some of the mounds were damaged or destroyed during this period as settlers used the earthworks as a source of fill dirt or road construction material.
In the early 20th century, efforts began to preserve and protect Fort Ancient. In 1890, the site was designated as a state park and later became Ohio's first state archaeology preserve in 1930. The Civilian Conservation Corps extensively restored and reconstructed portions of the earthworks in the 1930s, ensuring their survival for future generations.
Fort Ancient State Memorial is operated by the Ohio History Connection, and it provides visitors with a glimpse into the lives and culture of the Fort Ancient people. The site features a museum that exhibits artifacts discovered during archaeological excavations, as well as reconstructions of Native American structures. It also offers various educational programs and events, allowing visitors to learn about the history and significance of this ancient site.