Early settlers of the what is now Ohio discovered and named Fort Ancient, a site that looked to them to have been built as a military defense. It’s a place near Oregonia, Ohio that’s rich in archeology and has been studied for it’s historical significance since the early 1800’s. It was established as Ohio’s first state park in 1891. When we visited today we learned that the earthen walls that surround the site were apparently built by people of the Hopewellian Culture two millennia ago probably as a spiritual and social gathering place and an opportunity to mark the passing of the seasons rather than for defensive purposes. The rising sun on the summer and winter solistices is visible through breaks in the great earthen walls that surround this place above the Little Miami River, a tributary of the Ohio River. The Hopewell at some point abandoned the site and hundreds of years later peoples of what are now known as the Fort Ancient Culture made their homes and grew corn here for a time, perhaps twenty years or so. We spent time in the well curated museum that addresses the broad sweep of Native American history from the Ice Age migration to the clash of cultures when Europeans arrived before driving the loop and walking out to one of the observation platforms. It would be amazing to have been here just a few days ago on Summer Solistice when the sunrise was visible through a deliberate break in the earthen walls that surround this site. As one of a few sites in Ohio under consideration for designation as UNESCO World Heritage sites, this is definitely a location that deserves a return visit as we continue to learn about and appreciate the cultures of the peoples who populated the Americas for tens of thousands of years prior to the arrival of European settlers.

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