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Hopewell Culture in Upper Mississippi Region

The Hopewell Culture flourished during the first millennium AD which is where it is recorded on the Biblical Timeline Poster with World History. It was located in the Upper Mississippi region of Ohio. Its influence reached as far as some parts of Wisconsin, Mississippi, Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana, and Virginia. But its center was found in the Ohio, Scioto, and Miami Valleys of Ohio with ceremonial mounds dotting the landscape where the people once lived.

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The term ‘Hopewell’ does not refer to any particular Native American tribe that lived in the region; instead, it refers to a culture built around the people’s religious and ceremonial cult that made its funerary practices one of its distinct marks. “Hopewell” was also the last name of the family who owned the farm where some of the earthworks were discovered back in the late 1800s.

Hopewell Burial Mounts

The Hopewell people lived in small villages around the major waterways and rivers that snake through the Upper Mississippi region. Their homes were simple rectangles with wattle and daub walls and finished with thatched roofs. The Hopewell people did not use the massive mounds found in the area as settlements, but as ceremonial places for the deceased. The simple mounds were built in various geometric shapes (square, circle, rectangle, and octagon). Rectangular or conical mounds were specifically used for cremation and burial. The Hopewell people made a distinction between the common and more important people of their community through the cremation and burial of the leaders and others who were on top of the social ladder. More elaborate burials were reserved for hunters which showed their importance to the Hopewell culture.

The Hopewell people were hunter-gatherers, and they took advantage of the surrounding waterways as another food source. Later, they transitioned to the cultivation of squash, sunflower, maygrass, marsh elder, and other native plants. Their trade networks spanned the Great Lakes area, the Carolinas, and even as far as the Gulf of Mexico. Trade materials recovered from the Hopewell site included copper, mica, and obsidian.

For unknown reasons, the sites were abandoned around 400 AD, which followed the disappearance of the Hopewell culture.

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