Journal of Ohio Archaeology

The Woman Who Fell from the Sky and the Portsmouth, Ohio Hopewell Earthworks

George Horton and Terry Stocker


We interpret the Portsmouth, Ohio Hopewell earthworks as an effigy of “The Woman Who Fell from the Sky,” which is a story of human origins once extant throughout the eastern area of (Native American) North America. Built sometime between 100 to 500 CE, the Portsmouth earthworks, at 8-miles long, would be the longest human-effigy in the world. Regardless of the ultimate interpretation of the mounds, for the overall size, it seems improbable that no excavations have ever been conducted there. We attempt to contextualize Portsmouth as a gathering place for people from distant places, maybe as a pilgrimage center, and suggest that the Green Corn Ceremony might have been people’s motive for going there.

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