|An Adena Mound next to the Great Serpent Mound|
By: Allison Bruning
Ohio's Moundbuilders pt.2
An Introduction to the Adena Culture
Welcome back to Ohio's Moundbuilders. Ohio's Moundbuilders were groups of prehistoric Native American cultures that flourished in the Ohio Valley during the Woodland Period. The Woodland Period is an archaeological period occurred between 1000 BC and 1000 AD. It is a specific archaeological culture seen only along the Eastern portion of the United States.
Archaeological evidence proves the Archaic culture continued in Ohio until 1000 - 500 BC. Some researchers have believed the shift from Archaic to Woodland cultures happened abrupltly as Woodland cultures moved into the area and eliminated the Archaic. Yet recent archaeological research have disprove that theory. Natasha R. Nelson stated in her thesis abstract for her Master of Science degree at the Ohio University, "The transition from the Archaic Period to the Woodland Period represents a shift in the usage of the landscape by prehistoric peoples and a change in occupational patterns. This transitional period is marked by a shift from mobile hunter-gatherers to more sedentary horticulturists who are associated with the advent of ceramics and burial mounds. The changes in occupational and settlement patterns are correlated with climatic shifts in the valley that resulted in altered resource availability and, as a result, prehistoric peoples altered their usage of certain landforms." You can read her 2009 thesis at:
The Adena Culture lived in small communities throughout Southern Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Pennsylvania and West Virginia between 500 BC - 100 AD. When settlers came into those areas they discovered mounds of all shapes and sizes throughout the land. These mounds have since almost disappeared from our lands as farmers have dig through them throughout the centuries. The first Adena mound to have been excavated in Ohio occurred in 1901 by archeologist, William C. Mills. Mills was the Curator of Archaeology of the Ohio Historical Society at the time of his excavation. The Adena Mound stood 27 feet tall and 140 feet in diameter. It was located at the base of hill where Governor Thomas Worthington built his home "Adena" in Chillicothe, Ohio.
Governor Worthington owned 2000 acres in Chillicothe, Ohio from 1773 to 1827. He was one of Ohio's first United States Senators and was the 6th Ohio Governor. His 20 room mansion was completed between 1806-1807 and he originally named it Mount Prospect Hall. He changed the name to Adena in 1811 after reading a book on ancient history. Adena means places that are remarkable for their delightfulness. Governor Worthington and his wife, Eleanor, had raised their ten children on their estate that overlooked the Scioto River. His home had been his delight. You can learn more about his home at http://www.touring-ohio.com/southwest/chillicothe/adena.html. When William C. Mills discovered the new culture within the large Adena mound close to the mansion he needed to name the culture. He chose to name them the Adena in tribute to Governor Worthington's estate. We don't know what the Adena culture called themselves.