A sacred site initially built by American Indians, Mound City is the only Hopewell earthwork to have been fully restored. Walking among these burial mounds can give the sense of what it must have been like to attend a ceremonial gathering here nearly 2,000 years ago.
16062 State Route 104
Chillicothe, OH 45601
- Park grounds: Open dawn until dusk
- Visitor center: 9 am - 4 pm daily
What you’ll see
Aptly named, Mound City consists of 25 mounds of various shapes and sizes enclosed by a low wall in an area just over the size of 10 football fields. There are two gateways—one on the eastern side, and one on the western. Just outside the enclosure are eight pits, which were lined with clay so they would hold water.
All of the mounds and walls visible at Mound City today are modern restorations based upon intact base layers, and an extensive record of documentary and field research stretching back more than 150 years. One of the mounds remains unrestored, with short wooden posts marking the floor plan of its sub-mound structure.
Archaeology & Artifacts
The mounds at Mound City are so much more than piles of dirt. Where mounds are seen today, once stood a building. In the 1920s, archaeologists of the Ohio History Connection discovered the large, well-built shrines beneath each of the mounds, as well as clay altars, cremations, and spectacular objects. This was no ordinary burial ground or cemetery. The people buried here were surrounded by rich artifacts made from materials from far away, suggesting that people of great importance were brought here to be cremated or buried.
You can see these and other important, amazing artifacts in the Mound City Visitor’s Center, including many made from raw materials such as outsized obsidian blades, mica mirrors, as well as copper sheets hammered into relief effigies of the iconic falcons, ram’s horns, turtles, and animal claws.
What may look like a square with rounded corners is actually a shape seen across the Hopewell world—in the earthworks, the wood-framed structures that preceded the mounds, and in the clay basin on their floors. Viewed from the center of Mound City, the eastern horizon profile of the Logan Range (visible in winter) marks solar and lunar rising positions.
Must See in Mound City
1 of 8
Witness Ancient Brilliance
The Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, span several locations in Ohio. Each earthwork has its own marvels and wisdom to reveal, and is worthy of witnessing firsthand.