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2.4 Adena Hopewell Indians

The Great Mound Conus by GB_Packards on Flickr
An Example of an Indian Burial Mound located in Mound Cemetery in Marietta Ohio

In 750BC temple mounds were built in the Ohio Valley by the Adena Hopewell peoples. These Adena Hopewell Indians had a very sophisticated culture with elaborate ceremonial centres and a big trade activity. They made beautiful sculptures and ceramic vessels, decorated smoking pipes as well as jewellery of copper, silver, beadwork, mica, lead and obsidian. They lived in many sites along the rivers of Ohio and along the Missouri and its tributaries with a few sites in Kansas and Florida. They were efficient farmers.

In 100 BC the Adena Hopewell Indians built the Serpent Mound near the town of Locust Grove, Ohio, a huge raised earth effigy of a serpent 1254 feet long and, in some places 20 feet high. The serpent holds a globe or a comet in its mouth. The meaning and symbolism of this monument is unknown. Thousand other mounds were destroyed. In Kansas City the Adena Hopewell began to build a huge settlement and cultivated large fields of maize. Other great early Mississippian sites are at Etowah, Georgia; Spiro, Oklahoma; and Mountville, Alabama.

2.4.1 Adena Culture

The Adena culture was a Pre-Columbian Native American culture that existed from 1000 to 200 BC, in a time known as the early Woodland Period. The Adena culture refers to what were probably a number of related Native American societies sharing a burial complex and ceremonial system. The Adena lived in a variety of locations, including: Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, and parts of Pennsylvania and New York.

Adena sites are concentrated in a relatively small area: maybe 300 sites in the central Ohio Valley, with perhaps another 200 scattered throughout Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, although they may once have numbered in the thousands. The importance of the Adena complex comes from its considerable influence on other contemporary cultures and cultures that came after it. The Adena culture is seen as the precursor to the cultural traditions of the Hopewell culture, which are sometimes thought as an elaboration, or zenith, of Adena traditions.

The Adena were notable for their agricultural practices, pottery, artistic works and extensive trading network that supplied them with a variety of raw materials, ranging from copper from the Great Lakes to shells from the Gulf Coast. The Adena culture was named for the large mound on Thomas Worthington’s early 19th century estate called “Adena”, in Chillicothe, Ohio. Mounds

Adena culture’s most lasting artefacts were substantial earthworks. Once Adena mounds numbered in the hundreds, but only a number of Adena earthen monuments still survive today. These mounds generally ranged in size from 20 to 300 feet in diameter and served as burial structures, ceremonial sites, historical markers and possibly gathering places. These mounds were built using hundreds of thousands of baskets full of specially selected and graded earth. Before the construction of the mounds, some utilitarian and grave goods would be placed on the floor of the structure, which was burned with the goods and honoured dead within. The mound would then be constructed, and often a new mortuary structure would be placed atop the new mound. After a series of repetitions, mound/mortuary/mound/mortuary, a quite prominent earthwork would remain. In the later Adena period, circular ridges of unknown function were sometimes constructed around the burial mounds. Adena mounds stood in isolation from domestic living areas. Shamanism

Although the mounds are beautiful artistic achievements themselves, Adena artists created smaller, more personal pieces of art. Art motifs that became important to many later Native Americans began with the Adena. Motifs such as the weeping eye and cross and circle design became mainstays in many succeeding cultures. Many pieces of art seemed to revolve around shamanic practices, and the transformation of humans into animals —particularly birds, wolves, bears and deer— and back to human form. This may indicate a belief that the practice imparted the animals’ qualities to the wearer or holder of the objects. Deer antlers -both real and constructed of copper, wolf, deer and mountain lion jawbones, and many other objects- were fashioned into costumes, necklaces and other forms of regalia by the Adena. Distinctive tubular smoking pipes, with either flattened or blocked-end mouthpieces, suggest the offering of smoke to the spirits. The objective of pipe smoking may have been altered states of consciousness, achieved through the use of the hallucinogenic plant Nicotiana rustica. Stone tablets

The Adena also carved small stone tablets, usually 4 or 5 inches by 3 or 4 inches by 0.5 inches thick. On one or both flat sides were gracefully composed stylized zoomorphic or curvilinear geometric designs in deep relief. Paint has been found on some Adena tablets. These stone tablets were probably used to stamp designs on cloth or animal hides, or onto their own bodies. Pottery

Unlike in other cultures, Adena pottery was not buried with the dead or the remains of the cremated, as were other artefacts. Usually tempered with grit or crushed limestone, it was largely plain, cord-marked or fabric marked, although one type bore a nested-diamond design incised into its surface. The vessel shapes were sub-conoidal or flat-bottomed jars, sometimes with small foot-like supports. Settlement Patterns

The large and elaborate mound sites served a nearby scattering of people. The population was dispersed in small settlements of one to two structures. A typical house was built in a circle form from 15 to 45 feet in diameter. The walls were made of paired posts tilted outward, joined to other wood to form a cone shaped roof. The roof was then covered with bark and the walls may have been bark and/or wickerwork. Food Sources

Their subsistence was acquired through foraging and the cultivation of native plants.

•    Hunted deer, elk, black bear, woodchuck, beaver, porcupine, turkey, trumpeter swan, ruffed grouse
•    Gathered several edible seed grasses and nuts.
•    Cultivated pumpkin, squash, sunflower, and goosefoot. Tools

The Adena ground stone tools and axes. Somewhat, rougher slab-like stones with chipped edges were probably used as hoes. Bone and antler were used in small tools but even more prominently in ornamental objects such as beads, combs, and worked animal-jaw gorgets or paraphernalia. Spoon, beads and other implements were made from the marine conch. A few copper axes have been found, but otherwise the metal was hammered into ornamental forms, such as bracelets, rings, beads, and reel-shaped pendants.

2.4.2 The Hopewell Tradition

The words Hopewell tradition describe common aspects of the Native American culture that flourished along rivers in the Northeastern and Midwestern United States from 200 BC to 500 AD. The Hopewell tradition was not a single culture or society, but a widely dispersed set of related populations, which were connected by a common network of trade routes, known as the Hopewell Exchange System. At its greatest extent, the Hopewell exchange system ran from the Southeastern United States into the Southeastern Canadian shores of Lake Ontario. Within this area societies participated in a high degree of exchange with the highest amount of activity along waterways. The Hopewell exchange system received materials from all over the United States. Most of the items traded were exotic materials and were received by people living in the major trading and manufacturing areas. These people then converted the materials into products and exported them through local and regional exchange networks. The objects created by the Hopewell exchange system spread far and wide and have been seen in many burials outside the Midwest.

Hopewell populations originated in western New York and moved south into Ohio where they built upon the local Adena mortuary tradition. Hopewell was also said to have originated in western Illinois and spread by diffusion to southern Ohio. Similarly, the Havana Hopewell tradition was thought to have spread up the Illinois River and into Southwestern Michigan, spawning Goodall Hopewell. Politics and Hierarchy

The Hopewell inherited from their Adena forbearers an incipient social stratification. This increased social stability and reinforced sedentism, social stratification, specialized use of resources and probably, population growth. Hopewell societies cremated most of their deceased and reserved burial for only the most important people. In some sites it appears that hunters received a higher status in the community because their graves were more elaborate and contained more status goods.

The Hopewell culture had leaders, but they were not like powerful rulers who could command armies of slaves and soldiers. It is likely these cultures accorded certain families a special place of privilege. The leaders acquired their position because of their ability to persuade others to agree with them on important matters such as trade and religion. They were able to develop influence by the creation of reciprocal obligations with other important members of the community. Mounds

Today, the best-surviving features of the Hopewell Tradition era are mounds built for uncertain purposes. Great geometric earthworks are one of the most impressive Native American monuments throughout American prehistory. Eastern Woodlands mounds have various geometric shapes and rise to impressive heights. The function of the mounds is still under debate.

Several scientists believe that the Octagon earthwork at Newark, Ohio, was a lunar observatory oriented to the 18.6 year cycle of minimum and maximum lunar risings and settings on the local horizon. Ray Hively and Robert Horn of Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana were the first researchers to analyze numerous lunar sightlines at the Newark Earthworks (1982) and the High Bank earthworks (1984) in Chillicothe, Ohio. Christopher Turner noted that the Fairground Circle in Newark, Ohio aligns to the sunrise on May 4, i.e. that it marked the May cross quarter sunrise. In 1983, Christopher Turner demonstrated that the Hopeton Earthworks encode various sunrise and moonrise patterns, including the winter and summer solstices, the equinoxes, the cross quarter dates, the lunar maximum events, and the lunar minimum events. Many of the mounds also contain various types of burials. Artwork

The Hopewell created some of the finest craftwork and artwork of the Americas. Most of their works had some religious significance, and their graves were filled with necklaces, ornate carvings made from bone or wood, decorated ceremonial pottery, ear plugs, and pendants. Some graves were lined with woven mats, mica, or stones. The Hopewell produced artwork in a greater variety and with more exotic materials than their predecessors the Adena. Grizzly bear teeth, fresh water pearls, sea shells, sharks’ teeth, copper and even small quantities of silver were turned into beautifully crafted pieces. The Hopewell artisans were expert carvers of pipestone, and many of the mortuary mounds are full of exquisitely carved statues and pipes.

The Mound of Pipes at Mound City produced over 200 stone smoking pipes depicting animals and birds in well-realized three-dimensional form, and the Tremper Site in Scioto County produced over 130. Hopewell artists were expert carvers of human bone. A rare mask from Mound City was created using a human skull as a face plate. Hopewell artists created both wonderfully abstract and realistic portrayals of the human form. Many other figurines give us details of dress, ornamentation, and even hairstyles. An example of their abstract human forms is the “Mica Hand” from the Hopewell Site in Ross Co., Ohio. Delicately cut from a piece of mica, more than 11 inches long and 6 inches wide, the hand piece was likely worn or carried for public viewing.

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