Fort Ancient was designed not only with earth but with water. The earthen walls obviously have the power to enclose space, but water was also part of this enclosing idea, helping to establish a sacred boundary. The clay-lined ditches along the interior were designed to fill with water and become an almost-continuous string of ponds, perhaps to evoke views or entries into the “watery beneath world” known from historical Indian traditions. Site archaeologist Jack Blosser explains what happened to some of the ponds:

In the 1930’s, the Civilian Conservation Corps unfortunately cut a trench through the openings of different portions of the earth wall, and constructed a drainage area, thereby draining a lot of what was at one time visible for the public to see.

In antiquity, all visitors had to pass, not only through the wall’s gateways, but also across this water boundary, using a “land bridge.” The natural gullies that cut into the plateau were also blocked by continuing the walls across them. This created more ponds.

Fort Ancient



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