Help save one of Ohio’s last Hopewell earthworks

Another of Ohio’s rare ancient Native American earthworks is being sold at auction today. Almost all of the Hopewell Culture earthworks in Ohio have been destroyed by development making Fortified Hill in Butler County of immense archaeological significance. When it was documented by Ephraim George Squier and Edwin Hamilton Davis in their 1848 work Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, the first major archaeological publication dedicated to Native American mounds, Fortified Hill was one of six Hopewell earthworks along the Great Miami River. Now it is the only one remaining.

The earthwork is on private property. It was acquired years ago by the late Dr. Lou Barich with the intent of protecting it from the encroaching development of nearby Dayton and Cincinnati. Unfortunately, he did not make those good intentions explicit in his will. He died this summer and some of his heirs are insisting on cashing out, so all of his property, including the four parcels that contain most of the Fortified Hill earthworks and extremely rare surviving gateways, are going under the hammer today.

In an effort to save the ancient earthworks for future generations, Dr. Jeff Leipzig, a friend of Barich, has stepped up and organized a variety of historical preservation groups to raise money for the auction. […]

Leipzig hopes the coalition can preserve the land as a public park, and limit excavation to responsible archeologists and historians, so as to permanently protect a rare window into Native America and the forgotten ancient world.

“It’s for science,” said Leipzig. “This isn’t gonna be somebody randomly digging up a mound and trying to find treasure in it, which is the riskā€¦ That’s the risk with any of these properties, people dig into them and they destroy them. They’re cemeteries, they’re spiritual sites, they’re sacred sites.”

Every minute and every dollar counts, so if you’d like to help the Archaeological Conservancy raise enough funds to get an ownership stake in the Fortified Hill parcels and keep the McMansions from obliterating this unique archaeological treasure, please pledge here immediately. (Sorry for the late notice. I only just read about this and it’s imperative that the funds be available by auction time.)