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Ohio astro-archaeologist produces landmark book on the Adena and Hopewell Cultures

Dr. William F. Romain,  long considered a expert on the Adena and Hopewell Cultures,  has radically raised the standard for what an anthropology text should be.  He is a true scientist, not a regurgitator of past speculations or a neophyte professor, merely publishing a book so he or she can obtain tenure.

Romain received his doctorate degree in archaeology from the University of Leicester. He is Director of The Ancient Earthworks Project ( and the author of Mysteries of the Hopewell: Astronomers, Geometers, and Magicians of the Eastern Woodlands, and Shamans of the Lost World: A Cognitive Approach to the Religion of the Adena-Hopewell. He is an advocate for the preservation of ancient Native American sites;and a past recipient of the Converse Award for Outstanding Contributions to Ohio Archaeology.  He also obviously likes long book titles, but no one can be perfect.

On July 22, 2015  Romain published An Archaeology of the Sacred: Adena-Hopewell Astronomy and Landscape Archaeology.  The 332 page book contains 513 illustrations and 258 references.  It is the result of thousands of hours of research across the Eastern United States.  Astronomical equipment was taken to hundreds of ancient town and ceremonial sites to obtain a comprehensive body of knowledge on the site planning practices of indigenous Americans.  The book is available on and retails for $53.

Two thousand years ago, indigenous peoples created thousands of mounds and geometrically shaped earthworks across the Eastern North America.  Most people don’t know that there were even several large mounds where downtown Boston sits today.

Many of these indigenous earthworks are larger than Stonehenge; most are aligned to celestial events. Among the most impressive of these earthworks were those created by people of the Adena and Hopewell cultures in south and central Ohio. Romain’s book presents is the most comprehensive and detailed study of the Ohio earthworks ever written. More than one hundred sites are documented using on-site photographs, maps, and LiDAR imagery. Using these data, he assessed each earthwork relative to its astronomy, geometry, mensuration, and landscape setting.

Romain then explained how earthworks were integral to Adena-Hopewell religious beliefs and practices. For the Adena-Hopewell, the landscape – to include earth, sky, and water were part of who they were. To move through the landscape was to engage with the sacred. Using new approaches drawn from relational archaeology and state of the art technology, this book examines and explains the deep connection between ancient Native Americans and the land.

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    Now if someone would do a comparative study of ancient stonework.

    Richard, did you catch this piece from last year claiming a concentric stone circle site in Bluemont Virginia had a piece of burnt Jasper dating 10,500 BC? It was from May of last year and has been subsequently buried. Not a convenient way to tie into a migration history…

    • You know Scott, when I was in my glory days as an architect in Northern Virginia, I used Thunderbird Associates as my archaeologists. Every colonial farm and commercial building I worked on was a rich, archeological site that had to be checked out before the contractors went to work.

      Thunderbird Associates got their name from the Thunderbird Sites, which they discovered and investigated. It was a Paleo and Early Archaic jasper mine and workshop. From what my friends at Thunderbird told, I have no doubt that the radiocarbon date you described is accurate!

      • I am working on the comparative study. I have a GIS base map that shows all the stone architecture sites in the Lower Southeast. HOWEVER, to be honest with you, I am very hesitant to publish anything right now. The rate of change of what I understand about the Pre-Columbian past in the Southeast is itself accelerating. I am afraid if I said something today, it would be proved to be either inaccurate or partially accurate tomorrow.


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