The Worthington Earthworks site is a Hopewell culture (100 BC-AD 500) ceremonial center located along a high bluff overlooking the Olentangy River in Franklin County.
The Worthington Earthworks included a large, roughly rectangular enclosure 630 feet long by 550 feet wide with walls three feet high. In addition, there were two smaller circular enclosures, one located just outside the southwestern corner of the rectangle and the other, on the opposite site of a small creek, near the northwestern corner. There was a small mound at the center of the rectangle and a large mound situated on the southern wall of the rectangle. Either the mound was built first and the walls of the rectangle were built on either side of it, or the embankment wall was built first and the mound was built astride it.
The large mound is known as the Jeffers Mound. Originally it was 35 feet in height and 160 feet in diameter. It was dug into in 1866, but there is little documentation of what was found. A brief newspaper article stated that the diggers recovered hundreds of beads, pottery fragments, charcoal, and two skeletons. Based on the general artifact descriptions, this mound could have been built either by the Adena or the Hopewell cultures.
Southeast of Jeffers Mound, Ohio History Connection archaeologist Raymond Baby supervised excavations in 1978 and '79 that revealed the remains of a large, rectangular wooden structure, possibly a ceremonial "Big House."
Much of the Worthington Earthworks was destroyed by farming, but the Jeffers Mound is preserved as part of a modern residential park in Worthington. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Learn more about our effort to inscript several Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks sites (in Ross County, Licking County, and Warren County) to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- Byers, A. Martin. The Ohio Hopewell Episode: Paradigm Lost and Paradigm Gained. Akron, OH: University of Akron Press, 2004.
- Carr, Christopher, and D. Troy Case, eds. Gathering Hopewell: Society, Ritual, and Ritual Interaction. New York, NY: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2005.
- CERHAS. EarthWorks, Virtual Explorations of the Ancient Ohio Valley. The Center for the Electronic Reconstruction of Historical and Archaeological Sites (CERHAS). Cincinnati, OH, 2006.
- Lepper, Bradley T. Ohio Archaeology: An Illustrated Chronicle of Ohio's Ancient American Indian Cultures. Wilmington, Ohio, Orange Frazer Press, 2005.
- Pangea Productions. Searching for the Great Hopewell Road. N.p.: Pangea Productions, 1998.
- Woodward, Susan L., and Jerry N. McDonald. Indian Mounds of the Middle Ohio Valley: A Guide to Mounds and Earthworks of the Adena, Hopewell, Cole, and Fort Ancient People. Lincoln: The University of Nebraska Press, 2002.