Birding the Ancient Ohio Trail
INSET: ROLF NUSSBAUMER
An artifact depicting a bird from the Hopewell Culture.
By the time Christopher Columbus first reached America in 1492, they were already at least a millennium
old. What were they? Mounds:
human-made earthworks of unbelievable size and variety, dotting the
entire eastern half of North America. Some were conical mounds,
others earthen walls, embankments,
flat-topped platform mounds, and
effigy mounds constructed in the
shapes of animals.
But why were they built and by
whom? Those two questions have
intrigued archaeologists and other
scientists for hundreds of years.
“The bottom line is we just don’t
know why they were built,” said
Brad Lepper, archaeology curator
with the Ohio Historical Society.
“We know who built them: a series
of prehistoric Native American cultures often referred to collectively
as mound-builders. But why the