If we follow the logic of these low walls enclosing the entire complex, we’re left with only three “entrances” where people could have entered without climbing over them – all from waterways. It seems the builders chose a site surrounded by waterways, and centered on a pond, and then made its only entrances via water. Yet boats could not go anywhere on at least one of the creeks. Probably, water meant more than just a way to travel. Dr. Lepper:

In the cosmology of many Eastern Woodland tribes, the universe is conceived as three-layered: a sky world, called the above-world; our middle earth on which we live, and a below-world, an underworld, that’s mostly water. And each of these has its spirit powers associated with it. The thunderbirds live in the above-world. The Great Serpent and the Underwater Panther live in the underworld, the watery world. And I think the sources of water are places where the underworld makes contact with this world.

If this cosmology that we’ve defined from historic Native Americans can be projected back 2000 years, or at least elements of it, then the watery underworld, the beneath-world, forms a very important source of spiritual power that generates some if not all of the power behind this site.

The best-preserved examples of Hopewell-era water architecture are the ponds just inside the walls at Fort Ancient.




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