Fort Ancient Preservation and New Discoveries
In 2005, the Ohio History Connection received a grant from the National Park Service as part of the Save America's Treasures program to help preserve the Fort Ancient Earthworks & Nature Preserve, a monumental earthen enclosure that extends for 3½ miles around the top of a bluff along the Little Miami River in Warren County. The Ohio History Connection had identified several locations at the Fort Ancient Earthworks where erosion was damaging the earthworks and selected four of these as high priority candidates for repair and limited restoration. Archaeological investigations at these locations have focused on documenting the archaeological resources present so the engineers can implement their repairs without unknowingly damaging important traces of the ancient American Indian occupation of the site. The Ohio History Connection contracted with Dr. Jarrod Burks, an expert on remote sensing technologies with Ohio Valley Archaeological Consultants of Worthington, to work with Society archaeology staff to conduct a non-intrusive, remote sensing survey of the four areas.
In one of these areas, remote sensing has revealed a previously unknown circular structure nearly 200 feet in diameter. Additional investigation will be required to identify it positively, but it might be the remains of an earthwork, such as the small circular enclosure preserved at the Octagon Earthworks in Newark, or it might be the remains of a ditch dug to hold a series of large posts, such as the giant "woodhenge" discovered at the nearby Stubbs Earthworks by Dr. Frank Cowan. It is the first major architectural feature discovered at the Fort Ancient Earthworks since the site was first explored and mapped in the 19th century, and it adds considerably to our understanding of how ancient American Indian peoples used this important site.
Dr Bob Riordan of Wright State University conducted a field school in 2006 to investigate the geophysic anomalies. For information on their discoveries visit the blog. Dr Riordan and the field school will be back in 2007 to continue researching this important discovery.
In addition, Ohio History Connection archaeologists are continuing their research at Pickawillany near the Johnston Farm and Indian Agency. In the fall of 2006, Ohio History Connection staff, volunteers and interns for Urbana University completed a remote sensing and metal detecting project that was initiated in 2002. The purpose of the investigation was to locate evidence of Pickawillany related activities and define the spatial lay out of the site. Approximately 1000 period artifacts were recovered and several interesting anomalies were located. Further archaeological investigations at Pickawillany are being considered for 2009. Additional information can be viewed on the blog.