The Archaeological Conservancy recently discovered that the Fortified Hill Earthwork will be auctioned on September 28. Fortified Hill is one of six Hopewell Culture earthworks on a six mile stretch of the Great Miami River included on a map in Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley published by Smithsonian Institution in 1848. The site was initially documented in 1836, but it has never been excavated. Today, it is the only one of the six that survives, and it still preserves its distinctive and impressive gateways.
Its survival is critically threatened and in jeopardy of being lost. Years ago, a local physician with an interest in the past purchased the land encompassing Fortified Hill in an attempt to protect it from the urban sprawl of Dayton and Cincinnati. Unfortunately, he passed away this summer without leaving instructions for the site, and although his intentions to see the earthwork permanently protected were well known within his circle of friends, some heirs insisted that the property be auctioned to the highest bidder. Given the booming population of southwestern Ohio and the scenic views offered by property, the highest bidder may well be a builder of McMansions. Needless to say, this scenario would destroy the earthwork and its potential for any future archaeological research.
Not all is darkness, however. A number of community leaders and friends of the deceased are motivated to see Fortified Hill preserved. The Archaeological Conservancy is on a mission to raise $400,000 for the project. In return, we would receive an archaeological conservation easement over the property allowing us to manage the cultural resources and ensure the preservation of the site.
The Archaeological Conservancy is reaching out to the public for help in raising the necessary funds to protect this site from destruction. Please visit this LINK to make your pledge before the auction on September 28. Every donation, large or small, counts!