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Ancient Works


Transcription contributed by Martie Callihan 23 November 2004

The History of Warren County Ohio
Part II, The History of Ohio
(Chicago, IL: W. H. Beers Co, 1882; reprint, Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, 1992)
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Ohio has furnished a prolific field for antiquarians and those interested in scientific explorations, either for their own amusement and knowledge, or for the records of "facts and formations."

It is well known that the "Mound Builders" had a wide sweep through this continent, but absolute facts regarding their era have been most difficult to obtain. Numerous theories and suppositions have been advanced, yet they are emphatic evidences that they have traced the origin and time of this primeval race.

However, they have left their works behind them, and no exercise of faith is necessary to have confidence in that part of the story. That these works are of human origin is self-evident. Temples and military works have been found which required a considerable degree of scientific skill on the part of those early architects and builders.

Evidently the Indians had no knowledge of these works of predecessors, which differed in all respects from those of the red men. An ancient cemetery has been found, covering an area of four acres, which had evidently been laid out into lots, from north to south. Nearly 3,000 graves have been discovered, containing bones which at some time must have constituted the framework of veritable giants, while others are of no unusual size. In 1815, a jaw-bone was exhumed, containing an artificial tooth of silver.

Mounds and fortifications are plentiful in Athens County, some of them being of solid stone. One, differing in the quality of stone from the others, is supposed to be a dam across the Hocking. Over a thousand pieces of stone were used in its construction. Copper rings, bracelets and ornaments are numerous. It is also evident that these people possessed the knowledge of hardening copper and giving it an edge equal to our steel of to-day.

In the branch formed by a branch of the Licking River and Raccoon Creek, in Licking County, ancient works extend over an area of several miles. Again, three miles northwest of this locality, near the road between Newark and Granville, another field of these relics may be found. On the summit of a high hill is a fortification, formed to represent an alligator. Tile head and neck includes 32 feet; the length of the body is 73 feet; the tail was 105 feet; from the termini of the fore feet, over the shoulders, the width is 100 feet; from the termini of the hind feet, over the hips, is 92 feet; its highest point is 7 feet. It is composed of clay, which must have been conveyed hither, as it is not similar to the clay found in the vicinity.

Near Miamisburg, Montgomery County, are other specimens. Near the village is a mound, equaled in size by very few of these antiquities. It measures 800 feet around the base, and rises to a height of sixty-seven feet. Others are found in Miami County, while at Circleville, Pickaway County, no traces remain.

Two forts have been discovered, one forming an exact square, and the other describing a circle. The square is flanked by two walls, on all sides, these being divided by a deep ditch. The circle has one wall and no ditch. This is sixty-nine rods in diameter, its walls being twenty feet high. The square fort measures fifty-five rods across, with walls twelve feet high. Twelve gateways lead into the square fort, while the circle has but one. which led to the other, at

from four to five feet high and nearly forty feet in diameter. Evidently these were designed for defenses for the openings, in cases of emergency.

A short distance from Piketon, the turnpike runs, for several hundred feet, between two parallel artificial walls of earth, fifteen feet high, and six rods apart. In Scioto County, on both sides of the Ohio, are extensive ancient works.

"Fort Ancient " is near Lebanon in Warren County. Its direct measurement is a mile, but in tracing its angles, retreating and salient, its length would be nearly six miles. Its site is a level plain, 240 feet above the level of the river. The interior wall varies in height to conform with the nature of the ground without—ranging from 8 to 10 feet. On the plain it reaches 100 feet, This fort has 58 gateways, through one of which the State road runs, passing between two mounds 12 feet high. Northeast from these mounds, situated on the plain, are two roads, about a rod wide each, made upon an elevation about three feet high. They run parallel to each other about a quarter of a mile, when they each form a semicircle around a mound, joining in the circle: It is probable this was at some time a military defense, or, on the contrary, it may have been a general rendezvous for games and high holiday festivities.

Near Marietta, are the celebrated Muskingum River works, being a half-mile from its juncture with the Ohio. They consist of mounds and walls of earth in circular and square forms, also tracing direct lines.

The largest square fort covers an area of 40 acres, and is inclosed by a wall of earth, 6 to 10 feet in height, and from 25 to 30 feet at its base. On each side are three gateways. The center gateways exceed the others in size, more especially on the side toward the Muskingum. From this outlet runs a covered means of egress, between two parallel walls of earth, 231 feet distant from each other, measuring from the centers. The walls in the interior are 21 feet high at the most elevated points, measuring 42 feet at the base, grading on the exterior to about five feet in heigth. This passage-way is 360 feet in length, leading to the low grounds, which, at the period of its construction, probably reached the river.

At the northwest corner, within the inclosure, is a plateau 188 feet long, 132 feet broad and 9 feet high. Its sides are perpendicular and its surface level. At the center of each side is a graded pathway leading to the top, six feet wide. Another elevated square is near the south wall, 150x120 feet square, and 8 feet high, similar to the other, with the exception of the graded walk. Outside and next the wall to ascend to the top, it has central hollow ways. 10 feet wide, leading 20 feet toward the center, then arising with a gradual slope to the top. A third elevated square is situated at the southeast corner, 108x54 feet square, with ascents at the ends. This is neither as high or as perfect as the others.

Another ancient work is found to the southeast, covering an area of 20 acres with a gateway in the center of each side, and others at the corners—each of these having the mound defense.

On the outside of the smaller fort, a mound resembling a sugar loaf was formed in the shape of a circle 115 feet in diameter, its height being 30 feet. A ditch surrounds it, 15 feet wide and 4 feet deep. These earthworks have contributed greatly to the satisfactory results of scientific researches. Their builders were evidently composed of large bands that have succumbed to the advance of enlightened humanity. The relics found consists of ornaments, utensils and implements of war. The bones left in the numerous graves convey an idea of a stalwart, vigorous people, and the conquests which swept them away from the face of the country must have been fierce and cruel.

Other mounds and fortifications are found in different parts of the State, of which our limited space will not permit a description.

Many sculptured rocks are found, and others with plainly discernible tracery in emblematical designs upon their surface. The rock on which the inscriptions occur is the grindstone grit of the Ohio exports—a stratum found in Northern Ohio. Arrow-points of flint or chert have been frequently found. From all investigations, it is evident that an extensive flint bed existed in Licking County, near Newark. The old pits can now be recognized. They extended over a hundred acres. They are partially filled with water, and surrounded by piles of broken and rejected fragments. The flint is a grayish-white, with cavities of a brilliant quartz crystal. Evidently these stones were chipped into shape and the material sorted on the ground. Only clear, homogenous pieces can be wrought into arrow-heads and spear-points. Flint chips extend over many acres of ground in this vicinity. Flint beds are also found in Stark and Tuscarawas Counties. In color it varies, being red, white, black and mottled. The black is found in Coshocton County.

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This page created 23 November 2004 and last updated 26 November, 2004
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