The Ohio Hopewell: Episode Paradigm Lost and Paradigm Gained


The Ohio Hopewell: Episode Paradigm Lost and Paradigm Gained


A. Martin Byers



Ohio Hopewell Episode, Byers presents a new interpretive reconstruction of the culture of the prehistoric Native American groups who were responsible for these monuments. Basing his interpretation on a careful analysis and classification of the monumental archaeological record, he lays out an empirically and theoretically well-grounded and broad-based symbolic ecological reconstruction of the way of life of the responsible peoples.

Byers’ central premise hinges on the notion that the builders and users of these earthworks perceived the world as immanently sacred. From this he argues that these monuments were to serve as symbolic iconic media by which the balance of sacred life forces of the cosmos could be sustained through world renewal ritual. This central premise, termed the Sacred Earth principle, is thoroughly grounded on his empirical analysis of the embankment earthworks.

Using this as his base, Byers develops the claim that this period of monumental earthwork construction, termed the Ohio Hopewell episode, was the unique expression of a complex social system based on two social principles: kinship and companionship. Kinship was the basis of the egalitarian clans that occupied the land, and companionship was the basis of a system of autonomous world renewal cults.



Publication Date

Fall 11-1-2004


University of Akron Press


Akron, OH


Archaeology, Ohio History, Moundbuilders


Archaeological Anthropology

The Ohio Hopewell: Episode Paradigm Lost and Paradigm Gained