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Mounds for the Dead: An Analysis of the Adena Culture

Don W. Dragoo - 1963

 Gustav's Library Vintage Reprint

A study of the mound building Adena Culture and their eventual absorption by the Hopewell.  As dragoo states in the introduction:  "No remains of prehistoric man in the eastern United States have excited the imagination and interest of laymen and scientists alike more than the great burial mounds and earthworks now known to belong to the Adena and the Hopewell cultures in the Ohio Valley. Speculations as to the origin of the people who constructed these imposing earthworks to hold the remains of their dead was a favorite mental exercise of many from the first discovery of the mounds by Europeans.
Because the Indian with whom the white people first came into contact in the Ohio Valley knew nothing of the origin of the mounds, it was believed that the Indian could not have built these structures. It was suggested by some that one of the lost tribes of Israel was responsible, by others the Egyptians, the Norsemen, or some other fabled people of western history and mythology. Improved methods of excavation and dating and the evidence of physical anthropology have demonstrated the Indian ancestry of the "Mound Builders."
Of the early "Mound Builders" the Adena peoples dominated the Ohio Valley from about 1000 B.C. until their contact and absorption by Hopewellian peoples in the central Ohio Valley starting about 200 B.C. The spectacular results of this merger, known as Hopewell culture, received so much attention by early archeologists that the presence and separate identity of Adena was masked for many years. The eventual discovery and study of Adena came as an outgrowth of the investigations of Hopewell. The realization that the Adena culture was perhaps the foundation upon which the spectacular Ohio Hopewell culture rose has led to increasing interest in the Adena peoples who in the Ohio Valley developed the first extensive burial cult, built the first substantial homes, made some of the earliest ceramics, and practiced agriculture.
The path leading to the understanding of the important part of Adena in American prehistory has not been easily or quickly traveled. It has been nearly sixty years since the great earth mound on the estate of Governor Worthington in Ross County, Ohio, was excavated and reported by W. C. Mills.  Governor Worthington had named the mound and his mansion Adena. Mills extended the use of the name Adena to include the cultural manifestation found within the mound. Since that time, excavations and researches by many workers have demonstrated the extent and importance of Adena culture in the prehistory of the eastern United States."



Artist's reconstruction of the probable ceremony centered around the fire (Feature 6) at the top of the Cresap Mound at the beginning of the final building phase when several burials were placed on the mound surface around the fire and then covered by a thick layer of earth(Click to Enlarge)


This 6-3/4" x 9-1/2", 317 page, soft cover, facsimile reprint is  illustrated with  dozens of line drawings and maps and 51 plates.  $24.95


Natrium Mound Crude Stone Tablets Natrium Mound

Turtle Effigy

Bust Birdstone

Major Adena Mounds Upper Ohio Valley

Sample  Plates - click on image to enlarge

Table of Contents


Anatomy of a Mound. The Cresap Mound
The mound
Excavation of the mound
Mound structure
Features and burials
Summary of features and burials
The artifacts
Discussion of tablet forms
Miscellaneous polished stone artifacts
Chipped stone artifacts
Summary of chipped stone tools
Copper artifacts
Bone artifacts
Shell artifacts
Adena in the Upper Ohio Valley
Distribution of Upper Ohio Valley Adena sites
Grave Creek Mound
Natrium Mound
Beach Bottom Mound
Half-Moon Site
  Welcome Mound
McKees Rocks Mound
Peters Creek Mound
Crall Mound
Adena trait list—Upper Ohio Valley
Development of Adena Culture in the Ohio Valley
Distinctive Adena traits
Adena in Kentucky
Adena mounds in Ohio
Adena mounds in Indiana
The Origin of Adena Culture
Red Ocher Culture
Glacial Kame Culture
Physical anthropology of Adena
Adena and its neighbors
Point Peninsula Culture
Central Basin and Illinois Hopewell
Copena Culture
East Coast Adena sites
Middlesex complex
Adena-Hopewell chronology and radiocarbon dates