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Archeological Atlas of Ohio
William. C. Mills - 1914
Library Vintage Reprint
Undoubtedly the most famous archaeological feature publication, the
Archeological Atlas of Ohio was compiled by William C. Mills in 1914.
He started with existing maps by Warren K. Moorehead, Charles Whittlesey, and
the 1891 map of earthworks prepared by the Smithsonian institution.
He then systematically examined each Ohio county and updated the master map to arrive at the finished
atlas. The original publication run was limited to only 500 copies
and the originals now sell for between $600-$900 (depending on condition).
This large format (approximately 12" x 17") soft cover book is printed on acid-free, premium
heavyweight paper and features the full-size, color maps of each
of the 88 Ohio counties and their descriptions as well as the special
archaeological features found in the original. The binding of this massive volume
is a special double loop wire which, unlike the original, allows it to
be opened and lay flat, 193 pages. $44.95
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The History of The Archeological Atlas of
from Archeological Atlas of Ohio, William C.
Mills - 1914
The territory embraced within the State of Ohio
probably contains a greater number of prehistoric remains than any
other equal area in the Mississippi valley. The number of these
earthworks has been variously estimated. Some writers have estimated
the number of tumuli at 10,000 and the enclosures, etc., at 3,000 to
1,500, making the total number of earthworks more than 11,000. As a
matter of fact these estimates were based upon what was known of
such counties as Scioto, Ross, Pickaway, Butler, Hamilton, Warren,
Washington and Licking, all of which were great centers of
prehistoric activity. If all the counties in the state were dotted
over with the earthworks of prehistory man, as are the counties
mentioned, the estimate would be inadequate. But we find the entire
northwest part of the state unsuited in prehistory times for
occupancy by a prehistoric people, as the greater portion was low
and swampy and at certain seasons of the year covered with water.
Again the southeast part of the state was entirely too rough and
hilly and the valleys of the streams small, so that agriculture was
carried on with great difficulty. The valleys of the two Miamis, Scioto and Muskingum were well adapted
for the abode of prehistoric man and here we find his principal
The task of recording these monuments was begun in a
very early day by Col. Chas. Whittlesey, President of the Western
Reserve Historical Society. He had constructed a large wall map 12 x
14 feet and had recorded upon it all the known monuments. This map
is now the property of the Ohio State Archeological and Historical
Society and was drawn by Thomas Mathew, Professor of Drawing at the
Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College (State University). No date
is marked upon the map but no doubt it dates back to the early 70's.
In 1891 an Archeological Map of Ohio was published by the
Smithsonian Institution, upon which many additional mounds were
noted. In 1895 Prof. Warren K. Moorehead constructed for the Society
a new Archeological map and commenced to map the state
systematically. The size of the new map was 6 x 6 feet which was
much smaller than the map made for Col. Whittlesey. After Prof.
Moorehead's resignation in 1897 the writer conducted a systematic
examination of the State, county by county, verifying wherever
possible those monuments already known and at the same time adding
new records to the map. After due consideration the Executive
Committee of the Society found that a wall map would be entirely too
unwieldy and undesirable as a published account of the earthworks of
Ohio and they changed the plan of publication to an Archaeological
Atlas of Ohio, by counties, a more convenient form for examination
In presenting the Archeological Atlas of Ohio, the
author wishes to state it is as near complete as is at present
possible, remindful of the fact that many monuments have been
destroyed by a century or more of cultivation of the soil and by
other destructive agencies and that many, no doubt, exist that we
have no records of.
The various classes of earthworks shown on the maps of
the Atlas are as follows: Mounds (mortuary), enclosures (circular,
crescent and square) village sites, burials (ordinary interments),
cemeteries, stone graves, effigies, petroglyphs, flint quarries and
caches. The symbols designating the various earthworks, are shown in
the subjoined cartographic table.
The mound, for the most part erected as a monument to
the dead, is the best known and most abundant of the earthworks of
Ohio. They are usually conical in form and varying in height from a
few feet to 67 feet and in diameter from 10 to several hundred feet.
They may occur singly or in groups but always in close proximity to
their villages. Ross county has 370 recorded burial mounds, Licking
county has 225, Butler county 221, Jackson county and Pickaway
county tie for fourth place with 173 each, while Auglaize, Henry and
Wood counties have no records of a single mound. Total number of
recorded mounds in the state, 3,513.
The division of enclosures into three classes — the
circular, the square and the crescent — is merely an arrangement of
convenience suggested by their forms and is not necessarily
indicative of purposes for which they were constructed.
With respect to purpose and location, the following
classification probably is more desirable: (1) "Hill-top"
enclosures, of irregular form, conforming to the topography of the
ground on which they lie and from the natural strategic advantages
of their position, suggesting a military, that is, a defensive use;
(2) enclosures, geometric in design, more or less symmetrical and
located on low or level lands, the purpose of which may have been
the same, but perhaps constructed by a different culture; and (3)
enclosures partaking somewhat of the characteristics of the two
preceding classes but located on high or low ground apparently with
little regard to topography.
Fort Ancient, in Warren county, is the best example of
the hill-top enclosures of the state. Enclosures of this class
usually are constructed of stone and earth combined, and occur most
frequently in the southern half of the state though not uncommon
The best examples of the second named class are found
in Licking, Ross, Butler, and other counties contiguous to the
Muskingum, Scioto and Miami rivers. They take the form of circles,
squares, crescents, etc., singly or in combination and usually are
constructed entirely of earth.
The third class of enclosures occur principally in the
southern portions of the state and in several counties south of Lake
Erie. They vary greatly in form and location and consequently in
probable uses. The total number of enclosures recorded in the
various counties of Ohio is 587. Ross county stands first with 49,
Licking county 36, Pickaway county 33 and Franklin county comes
fourth with 28.
The village sites marking the places where aboriginal
villages or camps existed are scattered pretty generally over the
state. They furnish intimate data regarding the domestic life of the
aborigine. Among the important village sites are the Baum village
site and the Gartner site, in Ross county. Both have been explored
by the Society and the results printed in the Society's
publications. The total number of village sites recorded in the
state is 354. Miami county leads with 35 recorded sites, Jackson
county 22, Hamilton 17, and Darke county 13.
Cemeteries and burials are self explanatory. They
usually occur in or near village or camp sites. The stone grave is
merely a local variation of burial custom occurring most frequently
along the Ohio river where the abundance of slabs of loose stone
encouraged their use in preparing graves.
Of the effigy mounds, the greatest is the Serpent Mound
of Adams county. Others are the Oppossum Mound of Licking county,
the Warren county Serpent, the tapir like figure in Scioto county
and several anomalous figures in Pickaway, Ross and other counties.
These works are described under their respective counties.
Petroglyphs or rock pictures are found cut into exposed
rock surfaces and are most abundant along the Ohio river. Among the
more important of the petroglyphs are those in Jackson, Meigs,
Belmont, Columbiana and Cuyahoga counties and described under those
Flint quarries, the principal ones of which are located in Licking,
Muskingum and Coshocton counties, were of great importance in the
aboriginal economy. Their purpose is evident — the sup-plying of raw
material for the manufacture of the multitude of chipped flint
objects found in practically every section of the state. Flint
quarries recorded number 109. The total number of the various
classes of earthworks recorded upon the maps of the Atlas are as
Enclosures (Square, circular and crescent)
Burials (Ordinary interments)
The author is under
many obligations to Mr. H. C. Shetrone for his untiring efforts
in assembling the records of the earthworks and placing the
marks in the proper position on the maps and for personal
examination of sections along the Ohio River. To Mr. Phillip
Hinkle of Cincinnati for furnishing the records for Hamilton
county. To Mr. Aimer Hegler for furnishing the records for
Fayette county. To Judge H. C. Miller and Mr. F. E. Bingman of
Jackson for the records of Jackson county.
The author is also indebted to many others in the
various counties of the state, who aided in many ways to furnish
records and assist in locating the archeological remains for a
Wm. C. Mills.
Columbus, Ohio. March, 1914.