When Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, and Jesus lived, the Hopewell culture built and used Mound City Group. We do not know what the Hopewell called this sacred place, but early archeologists named it for the great number of mounds found here. In 1846 Ephraim Squier and Edwin Davis, pioneers of American archeology from Chillicothe, excavated several of the mounds. Their investigation greatly increased our knowledge of the Hopewell culture, but they concluded the mounds "were places of sacrifice." This was later discounted. The Hopewell did perform elaborate burial practices, but the earthworks were also used for other activities, including ceremonies and celebrations.
Our view of the Hopewell's world focused historically on the study of burial practices. Today, however, many researchers take a broader view. They are studying many aspects of Hopewell life, like the nature and location of Hopewell settlements. Objects recovered from Hopewell sites speak of deeply spiritual, artistic, and nature-connected people.
Squier and Davis described Mound City in 1846 as covered by a "primitive forest" and had this cover sketch drawn (above). During World War I the military built a training camp, Camp Sherman, atop the mounds, completely destroying half of the mounds and earthworks and degrading the rest.
Beginning in the 1920s, the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society managed Mound City Group National Monument for the War Department and, later, the Department of the Interior. Mound restoration quickly followed, and in 1946 the National Park Service began administering the site.