Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History

Hopewell (1–400 a.d.)

Thematic Essays

By Category

By Geographical Region & Time Period
By Department

The archaeological site of Hopewell is located on the North Fork of Paint Creek in Ross County, Ohio. Named for Mordecai Hopewell, the farmer upon whose land the site was recognized, it was first mapped in the mid-nineteenth century when more of the ancient constructions were visible than are there today. The main feature of the site is the rectangular earthwork known as the Great Enclosure that covered about ninety-nine acres and followed the terraces of the North Fork. Structures within the Enclosure included one D-shape that in turn enclosed the largest mounds at the site. Mound 25 is one of these, consisting of three parts that when built actually covered earlier constructions. Burials containing elaborate grave goods have been found in Mound 25.


An extensive trade network for exotic materials existed during the period, making enormous quantities of precious objects available for use by, and burial with, the powerful people of the communities.

Related

Cited Works of Art or Images (3)

  • Mound City Group of the HopewellCulture National Historical Park, Chillicothe, Ohio.
  • Plan of Hopewell
  • Hopewell mounds, print

Share

Hopewell is also the name given to the regional developments, of which the Hopewell site itself is part, that characterize the Ohio/Illinois area during the first half of the first millennium A.D. Flourishing centers with enormous earthworks in geometric shapes as varied as octagons, trapezoids, and ellipses were present in the southern Ohio region of Hopewell. One such earthwork site, known today as Mound City, near Chillicothe, Ohio, has a particularly high concentration of burial mounds, leading to the supposition that it was primarily funerary, used for that purpose by adjacent living sites.


An extensive trade network for exotic materials existed during the period, making enormous quantities of precious objects available for use by, and burial with, the powerful people of the communities. Burials in the so-called Mound of Pipes at Mound City produced over 200 stone smoking pipes depicting animals and birds in well-realized three-dimensional form. Objects in other materials, for instance copper from the Great Lakes area and mica from the southern Appalachians, were used to create elaborate plaques, ornaments, and profile cutout images. The copper ornaments included necklaces, bracelets, breastplates, and ear spools. A sophisticated ceramic tradition produced many short, round jars that have been found in burials throughout the Hopewellian trading area.


Department of Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Hopewellian mounds at Mound City in Chillicothe, Ohio, now home to the Hopewellian Culture National Historical Park. Photograph courtesy of the National Park Service. Plan of the archaeological site of Hopewell in the Scioto valley of Ohio as it appeared when mapped between 1845 and 1847 by E. G. Squire and E. H. Davis. The roughly square Great Enclosure is prominently visible. (From Squire and Davis, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, 1848, plate 10.) At Hopewell, known as the North Fork Works in the 1840s, E. G. Squire and E. H. Davis recorded a D-shaped earthwork within the Great Enclosure. It surrounded seven mounds, the largest of which reached thirty feet in height. (From Squire and Davis, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, 1848, page 27, fig. 3.)