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THE HOPEWELL CULTURE

This farming society flourished in North America from around 300 BC until about AD 700. They were named after Captain Hopewell, on whose land some 30 burial mounds were discovered in the 19th century. They were one of the most interesting early Native American tribes. They lived in and around the Ohio valley from about 1000 BC to AD 1300. In about 200 BC, this group became the most important tribe in the region. They were very successful at trading with other tribes, and developed a trading network in about 310 BC.

The Hopewell people adopted many customs from the Adena people, particularly in burying their dead. Ordinary Hopewell people were cremated, but the wealthy were buried in high state, in tombs with several chambers. These were filled with grave goods made from materials gathered from all over North America. They built huge, mysterious, dome-shaped earth mounds, and filled their graves with beautifully carved objects. The Great Serpent Mound in Ohio was built in about AD 200 and would measure 1,310 ft (400m) if uncoiled. It was probably used for religious ceremonies.

Although they knew about metal, the Hopewells used stone tools and were also skilled in the use of wood. They imported copper, silver, shells, and alligator teeth from all over North America to make burial goods. The Hopewell people lived peacefully and prosperously. They grew maize on a wide scale, and appear to have had an organized government with hereditary rulers. Their culture began to fade around AD 700.



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