By cutting several trenches through the wall, Dr. Riordan and his students have been able to uncover the phases of construction that went on here. Around the first century AD, a low embankment was laid across between the creek bluff and the start of the limestone cliff. It was about 300 feet long, with a gateway in the center. Then, over about a hundred years, they made two separate additions to the wall, making it higher and leaving two more gateways. The most remarkable phase was the building of a huge timber fence, or stockade, along the earthen wall, and way out along the northern bluff.

The big fire that consumed the stockade was part of a pattern of Hopewell people burning things: returning them to ash and smoke, to the earth and sky. Dr. Riordan found evidence for this fire in one of his excavation trenches, showing how they had also buried the charred remains, extending a small embankment out along the northern bluff. As often with the Hopewell, burying followed burning. This returned the site to its original architectural treatment, with only earthen walls.

The earthen walls stand only at the end of the plateau that’s not already surrounded by high cliffs. Like other hilltops, the theme here is “enclosure,” either to keep something out, or something in. They were carefully built. Before anything was done, a thin layer of clay was laid down, to prepare the surface. The outside surface contained a lot of stone; and the gateway passages were also paved and lined with limestone blocks. Walking the site today, the walls seem quite large, yet they stood even higher in antiquity: Erosion has filled in this area behind them by about three feet.

Lebanon to Pollock



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