News from OAC

Ohio Archaeological Council Fall 2022 Meeting Announcement and Call for Papers

The OAC is pleased to announce that the Fall Meeting will take place on Friday October 21 from 9-4, once again at the Columbus Public Library Main Branch auditorium (96 S. Grant St). This meeting will be held in-person and will be live-streamed and curated on our YouTube channel to ensure accessibility for everyone. 

This fall we will have a special session on Cemetery Studies, and a general paper session covering current research in and around Ohio from any time period. If you have a presentation idea for either session or would like more information, please reach out to Elizabeth Hoag, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  We especially encourage students to consider presenting their research.

Following the presentations, we will hold our in-person business meeting for OAC members only. Please feel free to share this information. More details to follow; we look forward to seeing you in Columbus!

Ohio Archaeological Council Government Affairs Committee Report to Members

Ohio Archaeological Council Government Affairs Committee Report to Members

April 29, 2022

Prepared by Al Tonetti, Chair

Andy Sewell, Megan Shaeffer, and Mike Striker, Committee Members

State Issues

Human Burial Places Protection.  Nothing new to report, but Ohio History Connection (OHC) Executive Director Burt Logan will retire in 2023, and Todd Kleismit, OHC’s Director of Community and Government Relations, has been appointed Executive Director of the Ohio Commission for the U.S. Semiquincentennial and will be leaving OHC in the near future. Both departures will likely affect efforts regarding human burial places protection legislation. 

Archaeology Guidelines. The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) continues to work on the revised guidelines. We were asked to review the fieldwork section and we submitted extensive comments. We are now reviewing the report format guidelines and will submit comments by May 13.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). We requested information from ODNR about how they consider impacts to archaeological resources during their environmental review processes for grant awardees and their subcontractors. We received a reply that included directing us to their environmental review webpage After review of the webpage, we suggested they update it to include specific information on compliance with federal (Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act) and state (Ohio Revised Code [ORC] 149.53) statutes and include a related link to the SHPOs federal and state reviews webpage

Recently, ODNR acquired the .69 acres of the former Tecumseh Motel and an adjacent property near Xenia, Ohio to develop the site into a new state park educational and interpretive center relating the history of the Shawnee Indians and one of the largest Shawnee Indian settlements in Ohio, Oldtown (Old Chillicothe), listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The village site is immediately west of the purchased property. ODNR is spending nearly $9 million on this project, which included an archaeological investigation of the motel property. The archaeological survey did not identify any evidence of the village. As the main Shawnee village in Ohio during and immediately after the American Revolution, it was the focus of several attacks by American militia. 

Newark Earthworks Litigation. Nothing new to report on the lawsuit before the Ohio Supreme Court regarding OHC’s ability to use eminent domain to cancel and reclaim the lease with Moundbuilders Country Club.

World Heritage and Visitor Center. $730,000 has been approved in the latest capital reappropriations budget, effective July 1, 2022, for development of a World Heritage and Visitor Center in Ross County (see Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, World Heritage Nomination, below).

American Electric Power (AEP), Rarden-Rosemount Area Improvements Project. We were asked by the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC), of which we are a member/partner organization, to get involved with this proposed 69 kV electric transmission line project that would impact the Arc of Appalachia’s (Arc) Tremper Mound Preserve A few years ago, the Arc’s Highlands Nature Sanctuary acquired the 600-plus acre property via the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program and the Ohio Public Works Commission’s (OPWC) Clean Ohio Conservation Fund for $2 million and created the Preserve. Heartland Earthworks Conservancy (HEC), for which Tonetti is Vice President and Secretary, was soon after asked by the Arc to get involved. Tonetti contacted SHPO who contacted AEP. AEP told SHPO that the project is still in the developmental phase and although a final route has not been determined their preferred route takes it through the Preserve, fairly close to Tremper Mound and Works, the name under which it is listed in the NRHP. Although much of Tremper Mound and Works was excavated in 1915 by what is now OHC, then “reconstructed”, it retains some integrity as revealed by magnetic gradiometer survey conducted a few years ago by HEC. 

AEP has the power of eminent domain for siting such projects. Because this project is not under the jurisdiction of the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) due to its kV capacity (only projects above 100 kV require OPSB approval), SHPO was not asked to review the project for its impacts on historic properties. On February 28, 2022, Tonetti participated in a meeting with AEP, the Arc, Ohio EPA, OPWC, OEC, and other organizations concerning this project’s potential impacts to the Preserve. He discussed the shortcomings of the 30-plus year old archaeological investigations in the AEP project area by the University of Pittsburgh for the Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) proposed but defunct West Portsmouth Bypass (the investigation did not include geophysical survey or deep testing in the floodplain of the Scioto River valley), and recent geophysical surveys by HEC and Ohio Valley Archaeology, Inc. on the Preserve, emphasizing the need for the use of best practices in archaeological surveys. Based on the presentations made on February 28 and subsequent discussions, AEP is researching route modifications that would avoid or minimize impacts to the Preserve. A decision is expected soon.

Federal Issues

Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, World Heritage Nomination. On March 23, 2022, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced it would formally submit Ohio’s Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks nomination to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for World Heritage inscription. The federal register notice included the following statements about the nomination:

“In making the decision to submit this U.S. World Heritage nomination, pursuant to 36 CFR 73.7(h) and (i), the Department’s Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks evaluated the draft nomination and the recommendations of the Federal Interagency Panel for World Heritage. She determined that the property meets the prerequisites for nomination by the United States to the World Heritage List that are detailed in 36 CFR part 73. The properties are nationally significant, being part of a unit of the National Park System established by Act of Congress or having been designated by the Department of the Interior as individual National Historic Landmarks. The owners of the properties have concurred in writing with the nomination, and each property is well protected legally and functionally as documented in the nomination. It appears to meet two of the World Heritage criteria for cultural properties. The ‘‘Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks’’ are nominated under World Heritage cultural criteria (i) and (iii), as provided in 36 CFR 73.9(b)(1), as a group, or ‘‘series,’’ that collectively appears to justify criterion (i) by demonstrating a masterpiece of human creative genius: A 2,000-year-old series of precise squares, circles, and octagons and a hilltop sculpted to enclose a vast plaza. They were built on an enormous scale and the geometric forms are consistently deployed across great distances and encode alignments with both the sun’s cycles and the far more complex patterns of the moon. The series also justifies criterion (iii) in providing testimony to its builders, people now referred to as the Hopewell Culture: Dispersed, non-hierarchical groups whose way of life was transitioning from foraging to farming. The earthworks were the center of a continent-wide sphere of influence and interaction and have yielded exceptionally finely crafted ritual objects fashioned from raw materials obtained from distant places. The properties, both individually and as a group, also meet the World Heritage requirements for integrity and authenticity.”

OHC will post a link to the nomination dossier on their World Heritage webpage

Historic Preservation Fund. President Biden signed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Omnibus Appropriations bill funding the federal government through September 30 of this year. The act includes a record level $173.072 million for the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF), marking the first time the HPF exceeded the program's $150 million authorized level. The HPF funding includes small increases for SHPOs and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPOs).

FY22 HPF funding:

  • $57.675 million for SHPOs
  • $16 million for THPOs
  • $26.5 million for Save America's Treasures 
  • $21.75 million for the African American Civil Rights grant program 
  • $4.625 million for the History of Equal Rights Grant program 
  • $10 million for Historic Black Colleges and Universities preservation grants 
  • $10 million for the Semiquincentennial grant program 
  • $10 million for Paul Bruhn grants 
  • $1.25 million for Underrepresented Communities Grants 
  • $15.272 million in Congressionally Directed Spending for HPF Projects (new in FY22) 

Total: $173.072 million ($28.772 million over FY20).

The bill also included $27.144 million, a $3.255 million increase, for the Heritage Partnership Program which supports National Heritage Areas across the country. $20 million was included for the American Battlefield Protection program and $8.255 million for the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, a $855,000 increase over FY21 enacted levels.

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). The Department of the Interior is soon expected to formally publish proposed changes to the NAGPRA regulations. Nothing new to report.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Data on Employment and Wages for Anthropologists and Archeologists. The latest (May 2021) data are broken down by national estimates and industry and geographic profiles

Bills in Congress. (information on all bills available at

HR 6589. Historic Preservation Enhancement Act. Introduced February 3, 2022, this bill would permanently reauthorize and fully fund the HPF at $300 million/year. It was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on the Budget. It has four cosponsors, all Democrats and none from Ohio. The HPF is currently authorized at $150 million/year and must be periodically reauthorized by Congress. This is an extremely important bill that could greatly increase the effectiveness of SHPOS and THPOs; enable Ohio SHPO to offer archaeological research grants, increase staff review of compliance projects, develop a cemetery preservation program, and other activities relevant to Ohio

S. 3667/H.R. 6805, African American (AA) Burial Grounds Preservation Program. Introduced February 16, 2022, by Ohio Senator Brown and Utah Sen. Romney, and referred to Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. On February 22, a bipartisan companion bill, H.R. 6805, was introduced in the House and referred to its Committee on Natural Resources. It has six cosponsors, including Ohio Rep. Beatty. The bills would establish a program at the National Park Service to provide grant opportunities and technical assistance to local partners to research, identify, survey, and preserve these burial grounds Senator Brown’s office contacted Tonetti requesting information on AA burial grounds in northern Ohio. He sent his office some useful information. Krista Horrocks at SHPO is compiling relevant information for all of Ohio for Senator Brown. 

H.R. 2930/S. 1471, Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP) Act. The bills will enhance protection of Native American tangible cultural heritage, including human remains and cultural items. On December 2, the House passed their bill with strong bipartisan support including all but two Republicans of Ohio’s delegation. The Senate bill has passed out of committee. The Senate will likely take up the House bill and could approve it sometime this year. Among other things, the bill would bar and establish stronger penalties for knowingly exporting Native American cultural items that were obtained in violation of NAGPRA and/or the Archaeological Resources Protection Act; establish an export certification system for items allowed to be exported; establish a Native American working group to provide recommendations regarding the voluntary return of tangible cultural heritage by collectors, dealers, other individuals, and non-Federal organizations that hold tangible cultural heritage, and the elimination of illegal commerce of cultural items and archaeological resources in the United States and foreign markets.

H.R. 3587, Requirements, Expectations, and Standard Procedures for Effective Consultation with Tribes (RESPECT) Act. Introduced in May 2021, the bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Natural Resources. It would then come before the full House for a vote. No Senate companion bill exists. This bill would make tribal consultation mandatory for federal agencies, and sets criteria for identifying tribal impacts, conducting outreach to tribal governments, and initiating tribal consultation. It requires each federal agency to have a designated official who is responsible for coordinating tribal consultation and offering new staff training on coordinating and consulting with tribal governments. It requires federal agencies create a Tribal Impact Statement that would “include the scope of the activity or regulatory action, including any geographic areas important to tribal governments, as well as a list of all affected tribal governments.” It would also require federal agencies, in coordination with tribal governments, to identify important sacred sites. The bill has 26 cosponsors, all Democrats.

Section 106 Consultations

Dieckbrader Dam Removal Mitigation Bank, LRH 2021-00163-LMR. US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) project, Brown County. We informed the USACE we wanted to be an interested/consulting party on this project. We also provided comments stating that although the SHPOs online mapping system does not show any archaeological resources in the 30-acre project area, nor has it been surveyed for such resources, a nineteenth century historical atlas and twentieth century USGS topographic maps show numerous buildings and structures adjacent to and perhaps within the project area. We commented that an archaeological investigation was needed to determine if NRHP eligible archaeological resources would be affected by the project.

Uritus Park Multi-Family Residential Development, LRH 2021-885-SCR. USACE project, Franklin County. We informed the USACE we wanted to be an interested/consulting party on this project. A NRHP listed house, originally of log construction and built around 1830, will be adversely affected and a memorandum of agreement (MOA) needs to be executed to resolve adverse effects to the building. SHPO stated that an archaeological investigation of the 24-acre permit area would be a “wasted effort” after a consultant’s literature review indicated portions of the permit area were disturbed by landfilling. Because portions of the permit area along Alum Creek and around the house appear minimally disturbed, we requested a disturbance assessment field investigation be conducted in the permit area, and ground penetrating radar and close interval shovel tests around the house be conducted to begin the process of determining if the as yet undocumented but undoubtedly present archaeological component associated with the house is NRHP eligible. 

Boston Mills North, Cuyahoga River Restoration. USEPA/NPS/USACE project, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Cuyahoga, and Summit counties. Nothing new to report. 

Brandywine Creek In-Lieu Fee Mitigation Site. USACE project, Summit County. We requested participation as an interested/consulting party on this project because two archaeological resources appear to be in or adjacent to one of the two restoration areas. Although in 1997 both resources were recommended not eligible for NRHP, we commented that further archaeological investigation at both resources should be conducted because neither the early 20th century domestic resource nor the precontact resource of unknown type appear to have been sufficiently investigated to be determined not eligible. We requested that both be relocated and further investigated through unit and other excavation methods and archaeological geophysical survey, as necessary and practicable, to determine their period of occupation/use, integrity, and association with broad patterns of history/prehistory.

Irishtown Bend Hillside Stabilization. USDOT project, Cleveland, Cuyahoga County. The data recovery and construction monitoring schedule has not been set.

Judge Joseph Barker House. USACE project, Washington County. Consulting party meetings were held on December 2 and February 9 concerning the forthcoming transfer of the NRHP-listed building from federal to private ownership. Stabilizing the neglected property and impacts to its grounds were discussed. Two drafts of a MOA have been circulated to address the adverse effect of transferring the property out of Federal control. It includes a prioritized stipulation for conducting an archaeological geophysical survey of the 3.5-acre area containing the house by the transferee, the Friends of the Joseph Barker, Jr. House. The OAC commented on the stipulations. We are likely to sign the MOA as a concurring party.

Thornwood Crossing Bridge. ODOT project, Licking County (Newark). Data recovery at the Middle Woodland occupation may occur late summer-fall 2022.

TRU-SR-46/82. ODOT project, Trumbull County. Nothing new to report.

WAR-SR 63-0.38. ODOT project, Warren County. Data recovery by Lawhon and Associates at the archaeological resources associated with the Union Shaker Village is nearing completion.

Zoar Levee and Diversion Dam repair. USACE project, Tuscarawas County. Most recent consulting party meeting held on March 31 but nothing new to report on potential impacts to archaeological resources, which should be avoided.

Ohio Archaeology Council Spring Meeting Program, April 29 2022

Columbus Public Library, Main Branch

Meeting Presentations are free and open to the public.


   Time slot           Presenter(s) Topic
9:00   Welcome and Check-in, light refreshments
9:20   Opening Remarks by Elizabeth Hoag, President Elect
9:30 Bowen The Schneider Farms North Locality, Pickaway County, Ohio
9:50 Hayfield and Johnson (Presented by Chidester) Historic Preservation Master Plan, Warrensville West Cemetery, Shaker Heights Ohio
10:10 Green et al. The Battle of Peckuwe 1780: Ball State University and Wright State University Research 2016-2022
10:30 Hall et al .(Pre-recorded) Using Human Remains Detection Dogs as an Emerging Method to Find Unmarked Prehistoric and Historic Burials
10:50    Break
11:00 Wanyerka (Remote) Where the Earth Meets the Sky: Defining Sacred Geography at an Early Woodland Earthwork Complex in Northeast Ohio
11:20 Hubin (Remote) Pioneers and Pestilence: Social Memory and Historical Narratives at the Harrison Township Cholera Cemetery
11:40 Burks On-Going Mapping Efforts at the Snake Den Group Hilltop Mound and Enclosure Site in Pickaway County, Ohio
12:00    Lunch
1:30 Heaton An Astronomical Investigation into the Functionality of Stone Gorgets in the Ohio Region
1:50 Boatman Additional Find at Indian Hills Site: An Update
2:10 Mahoney Wesselman Farm: An Archaic Site on the Lower Great Miami River, Hamilton County, Ohio
2:30 Nolan et al. Comets, Ritual, and Pseudoarchaeology: A Critical Assessment of Tankersley et al.'s (2022) Catastrophism
3:00    Business Meeting
4:00   Adjorn


Meeting Details:

The meeting will take place Friday, April 29, from 9-4 in the Auditorium (Level A) at the Main Branch of the Columbus Public Library, 96 S. Grant Ave. This event is free and open to the public. The business meeting from 3-4 is restricted to OAC members only.

The Main Library’s attached garage, accessible from Library Park North, offers free parking for the first hour. Rates are as follows:

0-1 Hours: Free

1-2 Hours: $.50

2-3 Hours: $1

3-4 Hours: $2

4-5 Hours: $3

5-6 Hours: $4

6-7 Hours: $5

7-8 Hours: $6

8+ Hours: $10

There are other additional lots around the Library.

Lunch break is from 12-1:30PM, allowing attendees ample time to walk or drive to a number of lunch options, additional information will be provided at the meeting. 

There is also a café at the Library serving limited beverages and refreshments. 

The meetings will be live-streamed and recorded. For additional information or questions, please reach out to Elizabeth Hoag This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Presenters, Titles and Abstracts, in Program Order

The Schneider Farms North Locality, Pickaway County, Ohio

Jonathan E. Bowen, Clarke-May Museum, Pickaway County Historical Society

For several years during the 1980s, the Schneider Farms North Locality (33 PI 845), on the east bank of the Scioto River north of Circleville, Ohio was cultivated using moldboard plowing. During that period all artifactual materials were intensively collected by members of the Schneider family. They have carefully curated the collection, which includes well over 1000 items. Material diagnostic of all local pre-contact cultural groups from Early Archaic through Madisonville Horizon Fort Ancient was recovered, with Brewerton-like, Riverton-like, Hopewellian, Terminal Late Woodland, and Fort Ancient artifacts being especially abundant. The study of this collection, with the active participation of the Schneider family, is yielding much information regarding ancient peoples in the area and the region. The availability of data regarding numerous other artifact samples makes it possible to study the materials recovered from 33 PI 845 in regional context.

Historic Preservation Master Plan, Warrensville West Cemetery, Shaker Heights Ohio

Prepared by Kate Hayfield and Maura Johnson, Presented by Robert Chidester, Ph.D., The Mannik & Smith Group, Inc.

The City of Shaker Heights received a Certified Local Government Grant from the Ohio History Connection in 2021 to develop a Historic Preservation Master Plan for the Warrensville West Cemetery, located in the Shaker Village National Register Historic District. The purpose of the plan is to provide a framework for improving the landscape and amenities at the cemetery, enhancing its placemaking potential, and preserving the historic features and character of the cemetery.A multidisciplinary team from The Mannik & Smith Group, Inc. (MSG) was contracted to develop the plan. MSG conducted ground penetrating radar to identify the location of unmarked grave sites and completed an inventory of 170 gravestones in the cemetery. On-site workshops instructed community members and public works employees on the care of gravestones. A site/landscape plan was developed, and suggestions for a comprehensive branding program were included to enhance awareness of the cemetery and encourage community engagement.

Pioneers and Pestilence: Social Memory and Historical Narratives at the Harrison Township Cholera Cemetery

David Hubin, President IRLAB, Lecturer, Anthropology NDSU

This presentation summarizes the ongoing bioarchaeological investigation of the Harrison Township Cholera Cemetery (HTCC) in the village of Lockbourne, Pickaway County, Ohio. Part of a multidisciplinary research team, I focus on the sociohistorical context of the cemetery from its beginnings as a family/community burial grounds, to the supposed site of mass-internment due to the cholera epidemics of the 19th-century, and finally as it exists today - an inactive historic cemetery with an ambiguous past and forgotten ties to the local and descendent community. Historical documents and oral traditions were analyzed for their alignment with, or deviation from, the bioarchaeological record at the cemetery. The result is an interpretation that will continue to be tested and refined as part of the larger research program - as this interpretation becomes part of the ever-changing and context-dependent historical narrative of HTCC.

Using Human Remains Detection Dogs as an Emerging Method to Find Unmarked Prehistoric and Historic Burials

Jennifer Jordan Hall, Cheryl A. Johnston, Kevin R. Schwarz, Andrea D. Crider, and Taylor J. Bryan, YK9 Search and Reunite Services, LLC, Grave Matters Consultancy Group, LLC, and ASC Group, Inc.

Remote sensing techniques, including magnetic survey and ground penetrating radar, are commonly used in archaeology as part of cultural resource management projects. We propose using a complimentary, unconventional remote sensing technique to locate human remains on archaeological sites: human remains detection (HRD) dogs. Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) have been used with increased frequency to locate human remains in forensic settings, particularly since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Only recently have they been used to locate ancient human remains. Specialized HRD dogs have been tested on Iron Age sites in Croatia and California. Now we have successfully utilized this modality at a Fort Ancient village site in the Ohio Valley, which dates from AD 1050-AD 1275. The specialized HRD dog has found numerous burials that were not detected by other modalities. Our results suggest that using these specialized HRD dogs in archaeological prospection is uniquely beneficial from a variety of perspectives. We will discuss the benefits of this search modality along with guidelines for proper site preparation.

The Battle of Peckuwe 1780: Ball State University and Wright State University Research 2016-2022 

Lance Greene, Wayne State University, Kevin Nolan, Applied Anthropology Laboratories at Ball State University , Christine Thompson,  Applied Anthropology Laboratories at Ball State University 

Recent Wright State University field schools and Ball State University grant-funded metal detector surveys have resulted in new archaeological information and understanding regarding the 1780 Battle of Peckuwe. In collaboration with the three federally recognized Shawnee tribes and the Clark County Park District, we continue to interpret current archaeological research and move forward with updated interpretation. 

On-Going Mapping Efforts at the Snake Den Group Hilltop Mound and Enclosure Site in Pickaway County, Ohio

Jarrod Burks, PhD, Ohio Valley Archaeology, Inc.

Snake Den Group (33PI5), a hilltop mound and enclosure site located in northeastern Pickaway County, was first published by Warren K. Moorehead in a write up of the 1897 excavations of the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society. At that time the site was recorded as consisting of three mounds in a line with another probable mound some distance off to the southeast. Two small circular enclosures were identified in close proximity to the mounds, including one in line with the three mounds. The discovery in one of the mounds of walnut-sized silver nuggets with a cremation burial brought the site short-lived national fame, and along with a tubular pipe, suggest the mounds may date to the late Early-early Middle Woodland period (c. AD 200). New mapping work started in 2007, including geophysical survey, LiDAR, and photogrammetry, identified an outer ditch and embankment surrounding the cluster of three mounds and found that the associated small enclosure is a super-ellipse (a “squircle”) rather than a circle. A possible post circle and three notable lines of pit/post-type features also were detected in the magnetic survey data. While excavation has revealed two of these pits to in fact be precontact period in age, the trajectory of these linear pit arrangements showed them to extend beyond the edge of what was assumed to be the site’s “outer” enclosure. Magnetic survey work in the winter/spring of 2021-2022 to the southeast of the site center has encountered a new rectangular enclosure and the extension of the linear pit arrangements, which now measure at least 350 meters long. The pits and the new enclosure now tie together the somewhat distant southeastern mound with the rest of the hilltop enclosure’s features, revealing an earthwork complex that is at least 10 hectares (25 acres) in size.

Where the Earth Meets the Sky: Defining Sacred Geography at an Early Woodland Earthwork Complex in Northeast Ohio

Phil Wanyerka PhD, Cleveland State University

Geophysical and archaeological investigations have been conducted for the past 5 years at site 33CU1 (the Fort Hill Earthwork Complex), the only two known prehistoric earthwork complex located in the Rocky River Metroparks of Northeast Ohio. The site is located at the east end of a 100 foot-high plateau, consisting of three earthen embankments, each with its own external borrow ditch. Our investigations have revealed that the site was constructed during the Early Woodland Period between 360 and 156 BCE. Our investigations have also discovered two previously unreported, small conical mounds located west of the embankments. These mounds likely served as a gateway into the earthwork complex. Due to the site’s prominent location and due to the sparsity of residential debris, we suspect that the earthwork complex not only denoted sacred space but it also likely served as an important astronomical observatory.

An Astronomical Investigation into the Functionality of Stone Gorgets in the Ohio Region 

Jason Heaton, Director of Astronomy, Dayton Society of Natural History

The Hopewell culture has many well-documented cases of earthwork building in association with astronomical alignments.  The Hopewell and earlier cultures of the Ohio Valley also left behind many stone artifacts with unknown functions, such as gorgets and pendants.  While certain examples of these artifacts are often linked with ceremonial function, others exist with purposeful indentations, tally marks, and engravings, suggesting a more utilitarian role.  This presentation focuses on the theory that early gorgets (as well as other artifact types) served as portable time keeping, calendric devices.  For this preliminary study, I created replicas of gorgets and pendants housed at the Dayton Society of Natural History to test the action that one can find direction, time of day, and time of year utilizing these objects.  Results indicate that a number of items may have served as solstice marking devices in combination with a gnomon.  Hourly timekeeping may have also served as a function of these early devices.  Through this presentation, I hope to expand my overall dataset to further support this theory.   

Additional Finds at Indian Hills Site: An Update

Glenwood Boatman, Vice President of the Sandusky Bay Chapter/ASO

The Indian Hills site is in Rossford, Ohio and was a large 1600 A.D. Late Prehistoric Algonquin Village of the Sandusky Tradition. The Indian Hills phase may represent the enigmatic Assistaeronon who are reported to have been at war with the Neutral Indians during the protohistoric period. The site is reported in the Masters Dissertation of James Graves at the University of Toledo. Later recovery of items stolen from Ossuary No. 1 has provided a radiocarbon date for the ossuary. Cleaning of artifacts from Area S Unit 2, midden layer, provided a copper tinkling cone, a small copper bead, pipe stems, and Sandusky Tradition Indian Hills Stamped rimsherds and Cord Wrapped Stick rimsherds of the Western Basin Tradition type. Radiocarbon dates have also been obtained from bone samples in features with significant pipe parts verifying earlier radiocarbon results from charcoal. Finally a radiocarbon date from the Lasalle ossuary site provides a date for the ossuary.

Wesselman Farm, An Archaic Site on the Lower Great Miami River, Hamilton County, Ohio

Leeanne Mahoney, Graduate student at the University of Maryland and Senior Archaeologist at SEARCH Inc.

Wesselman Farm is a previously unidentified precontact site in Hamilton County, Ohio. The site is an early Late Archaic period (4330 ± 30 to 4080 ± 30 BP [4959-4462 cal BP]) habitation site with dense midden development situated on a summit over the junction of the Great Miami River and Taylors Creek. This research was inspired by a small box of stone tools that a family had collected since the 1940s as they noticed the artifacts when plowing the fields on their 15.38-hectare (38 acre) historic farmstead. The thesis project focused on an area of the farmstead where the landowner had discovered most of the artifacts. The landowner’s collection, archival research, geophysical survey, archaeological excavations, and radiocarbon dating each contributed valuable information in locating and interpreting this archaeological site. The data also allows an understanding of the role this site had within the larger Archaic settlement system of extreme southwest Ohio.

Comets, ritual, and pseudoarchaeology: A Critical Assessment of Tankersley et al.'s (2022) Catastrophism

Kevin C. Nolan, Bradley T. Lepper, Bret J. Ruby, Kevin Schwarz, Matthew Davidson, Andrew Weiland, Dee Anne Wymer, Timothy Everhart, Jenifer Aultman, Laura Murphy, and Tony Krus

A popular pseudoarchaeology trend is to claim comet airbursts are responsible for destroying various ancient cultures. Since it is difficult to prove or disprove an airburst at any given time in the past, proponents cherry-pick data to stitched together neo-catastrophist click-bait. Tankersley et al (2022) bring this trend to the Middle Ohio River Valley (MORV) with the claim of a cosmic airburst making the Hopewell culture the latest victims of this pseudoscientific trend. The rich Hopewell archaeological record paints a different picture. None of the hundreds of previous archaeological investigations in the MORV encountered evidence of a widespread cataclysm. While charcoal and burned soils are found on virtually all excavated archaeological sites in the region, these generally relate to everyday heating and cooking. Further, many of the burned surfaces discussed are prepared surfaces for ceremonial fires and crematory basins; not the burned “habitation surfaces” claimed. The evidence Tankersley and colleagues review and present simply does not support their conclusion. The Woodland period literature gives no indication of dramatic “social decline”. Tankersley et al. conflate multiple discrete deposits to create an artificial narrative of a single event. The evidence from Tankersley’s fieldwork does not match the descriptions in the article text or the supplementary material. Tankersley and colleagues misinterpret and quote mine primary sources, thus painting an erroneous picture of the Hopewell archaeological record. In sum, there is no support in the literature to justify the question supposedly addressed by Tankersley et al.’s research design, their new evidence is poorly presented, the reasoning from evidence to conclusion does not follow (non sequitur), and critical details on data collection and analysis are lacking. Nothing in the article or the extant literature supports the conclusion that a comet exploded over Cincinnati in the 3rd or 4th century AD.







Great news. Ohio’s Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks nomination to the UNESCO World Heritage List happens in 2023!

On March 23, 2022, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service announced the formal nomination of the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks to the UNESCO World Heritage List. For over a decade, the Ohio History Connection and the National Park Service’s Hopewell Culture National Historical Park have worked with Tribal nations and stakeholders from across Ohio and the U.S., including the Ohio Archaeological Council, to seek World Heritage inscription for these eight Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks sites:

  • Hopewell Culture National Historic Park, including the Mound City Group, Hopewell Mound Group, Seip Earthworks, High Bank Earthworks and Hopeton Earthworks
  • Newark Earthworks State Memorial, including Octagon Earthworks and Great Circle Earthworks
  • Fort Ancient State Memorial.

The nomination will be considered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in the summer of 2023. Inscription on the World Heritage List will raise awareness about the worldwide significance of these incredible monuments constructed by indigenous people nearly 2000 year ago.

You can learn more about the nomination and support these efforts at

Information about UNESCO’s World Heritage program is found at

The Ohio Supreme Court has yet to decide whether the Ohio History Connection has the power of eminent domain to terminate its lease with Moundbuilders Country Club, the current tenant of the Octagon Earthworks. A decision is expected soon.

OHIO811 Excavator Manual

The latest update (December 2021) of the OHIO811 Excavator Manual can be found at

It includes changes that were approved through the Marking Standard Committee in 2021.

The changes were:

  • A symbol for facilities greater than 36 inches. Page 29
  • Best Practice Note: An 18-inch tolerance zone should be respected around all above ground infrastructure. Page 16
  • Best Practice Note: Identifying markings such as facility owner, size and type shall not be used as a measuring point when establishing the tolerance zone of a buried utility. Page 16
  • Additional material type FG, Fiber Glass. Page 39

Remember to contact OHIO811 before any excavation. It’s the law.

OAC Spring Meeting Announcement and Call for Papers

This April the OAC is pleased to announce that we will make a return to in-person meetings, while also continuing the practice of live-streaming the content to make it accessible to everyone. The meeting will be held on Friday, April 29 from 9-3 at the Columbus Metropolitan Library Main Branch, 96 S. Grant Ave. This central location has ample free parking and is central to other amenities.  

We will have a session for presenting current research in and around Ohio and are accepting papers and presentations. We especially encourage students to consider presenting their research. Please reach out to Elizabeth Hoag, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information. 

Following the papers, we will hold our in-person membership meeting. We look forward to seeing you in Columbus!