The Ohio Historical Center will be featuring new archaeology displays to introduce and provide a cultural context for the artifacts in its ongoing exhibition, Windows to Our Collections: Ohio’s Ancient Past. The displays consist of:
o Paleoindian Hunting Dioramas
The three scenes depict three different types of animals likely hunted by these first residents of Ohio. Caribou live in herds, so groups of hunters ambushed them as they migrated from summer to winter feeding grounds. The mastodon butchering scene shows how an entire band of Paleoindians—men, women, children, and dogs—is involved in butchering the animal and processing the meat, hide, and bones. The white-tail deer in the third model is the only animal of the three depicted in these models that still lives in Ohio. Individual hunters likely pursued individual animals in contrast to caribou hunting. The Paleoindian models represent a hunting and gathering lifestyle where relatively small groups of people moved periodically from one camp to another exploiting wide range of game animals and edible plants for their food supply. This lifestyle is characteristic of the Paleoindians (ca.15,000-9,000 years ago) and their descendants, the Archaic people (ca.10,000-2500 years ago).
o Hopewell Earthworks Models
The models show examples of Hopewell (ca. 2100-1500 years ago) geometric earthworks (Seip and Hopewell Mound Group, both in Ross County) and hilltop enclosure (Fort Ancient, Warren County). The relief models demonstrate the size and complexity of these sites and their relationship to their environments. They also demonstrate the abilities of the Hopewell people to conceive, layout and construct monumental earthen structures that were the focus of much of their ceremonial and social activities. There is also a model of the floor of the large Seip mound revealed during the excavation of the mound in the 1920s. Originally it was the site of a large building in which the Hopewell people buried deceased members of their community. At some point, they dismantled the building, covered its location and the burials with a large mound of earth. (The oval mound within the larger circular enclosure of the Seip Earthworks model.) The Hopewell people are an example of a society supported by hunting and gathering, and by cultivating several kinds of seed-bearing plants.
o Fort Ancient Village Model
This model represents a portion of a Fort Ancient culture (1100-500 years ago) village in southwestern Ohio. The figures show people doing the typical tasks of village life—cultivating corn, beans, and squash, hunting, repairing their houses, making pottery, processing hides, even the funeral of a young child. In contrast to earlier groups, the Fort Ancient people lived in more or less permanent villages with denser populations (est. 100-150 people) supported by hunting, gathering and particularly farming.
o Meigs County Petroglyphs
Petroglyphs are images engraved into stone. These particular figures had been chiseled into the rock outcrops along the Ohio River in Meigs County. Although it is impossible to determine their age, archaeologists generally assume they were made by the Fort Ancient people, based on their level of preservation. When it was evident that the spring floods and winter ice of the Ohio River, raised by the construction of 20th century dams along the river, were eroding the petroglyphs, OHS archaeologists cut them out of the stone outcrop in order to preserve them. One figure appears to represent a bear while the other is a bird. The meanings of these engravings are unknown, although it is possible they illustrate characters in legends or represent particular social groups.