Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

March 5, 2013

The Grave Creek mound

Ben Morris
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — The Grave Creek Adena burial mound in Moundsville, W.Va. is probably the most famous of the Adena burial mounds.

It is certainly the most massive, requiring the movement of more than 60,000 tons of fill. The mound was built in stages from about 250 to 150 B.C. Several years ago, engineers measured the height of the Mound at 69 feet and the diameter at the base as 295 feet. A moat measuring 40 feet in width and five feet in depth once encircled the mound.

Local amateurs initially excavated the mound in 1828. In addition to Adena ornaments and skeletal remains, a small, flat tablet bearing an inscription was found. The meaning of the inscription has been quite controversial. The Adena lived in a wide area including much of present day Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky and parts of Pennsylvania and New York. Their mounds generally range in size from 20 feet to 300 feet in diameter.

The Adena had well-organized societies since the construction of the mounds took a great deal of effort. The labor of many people must have been required since the Adena didn’t use the wheel and had no horses. The large amounts of earth had to be moved by the basket-load. The Adena were extensive traders, as evidenced by the types of material found in the mounds they constructed.

Copper from the western Great Lakes region, mica from the Carolinas and shells from the Gulf of Mexico all attest to the range of their economic activity.

The Adena also practiced agriculture, in addition to hunting and fishing. Although little remains of their villages, the Adena left great monuments to mark their passing and one of greatest of these is the Grave Ceek Mound.

Ben Morris, MA, RPA, is an archaeological and historical columnist for the Daily News. He can be reached at 812-932-0298 or bjmorris1935@gmail.com.