By Rick Palsgrove
An earthwork that is a connection to Ohio’s prehistoric past has been found in Blacklick Woods Metro Park.
Archaeologists believe earthworks such as this were built by the prehistoric Adena and Hopewell cultures.
According to Cody Berkebile, a naturalist at Blacklick Woods Metro Park, the earthwork was discovered in February 2017 by a retired archaeologist, David Lamp, who then confirmed the discovery with Dr. Jarrod Burks of Ohio Valley Archaeology, Inc. and Heartland Earthworks Conservancy.
“The earthwork is located in an open field off of our multi-use trail,” said Berkebile. “It is a circular earthwork with a gate, or entrance.”
The height, length, and width of the earthwork is still to be determined.
“We do not know (the size) exactly at this time,” said Berkebile. “After Dr. Burks conducts his magnetic survey, we hope to know more about the dimensions of the earthwork.”
Berkebile said circular earthworks were primarily used for surrounding burial sites and for religious ceremonies.
When asked if an archaeological dig is planned for the earthwork, Berkebile said,. “After Dr. Burks conducts a magnetic survey to map the earthwork and the surrounding area, we will consider conducting an archaeological dig, based on his findings. If the decision is made to conduct an excavation, Dr. Burks and his team will do it.”
Berkebile said the earthwork accessible for park visitors to visit and see it.
“The earthwork is located in a place where park visitors are encouraged to go off trail and explore,” Berkebile said. “However, the earthwork is difficult to discern with the naked eye due to the vegetation currently growing on the site.”
According to Berkebile, Blacklick Woods is planning to design and install interpretive signage near the site to inform park visitors about the cultural history of the earthwork.
“We are also considering some interpretive mowing to help the earthwork stand out against the surrounding vegetation,” said Berkebile. “In the future, we hope to host public programs about the earthwork and the people responsible for its construction.”
In an online blog, Blacklick Woods Naturalist Katie Lambert noted that thousands of earthworks have been found in Ohio, but circular earthworks like the one in Blacklick Woods are less common as only hundreds of these have been found around the state.
Over the past couple of centuries, many prehistoric earthworks have been eroded by farm plowing, making them difficult to locate.
To read Lambert’s full blog about the earthwork discovery, visit metroparks.net.