Adena history - Native Americans - a Woodland period culture
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Adena History

Great Serpent Mound
Great Serpent Mound, Ohio (700 BC-200 AD<)

October 2016 - People called the Adena lived along the Ohio river valley (in modern Ohio) during the Early Woodland period, beginning about 700 BC. These people probably chose leaders in a "big man" system. They got some of their food from hunting and gathering and fishing, and some of their food from planting squash and other plants (but they didn't have corn yet). They grew tobacco to use in religious ceremonies, too.

Adena people often built large mounds of earth. Some of these were burial mounds to put dead people in. When people died, their relatives would smear red ochre or graphite on their bodies and then bury them inside these big mounds. Sometimes they buried dozens of people in the same mound (not all at the same time! They buried the people one by one, when they died.). People buried carved soapstone tobacco pipes with the bodies for their souls to use in the next world.

Other mounds that the Adena people built were not for burials, like the Snake mound in the picture on this page. These mounds might have been to show what group or clan people belonged to in that area.

About 200 AD, as the Adena people moved into the Middle Woodland period, their culture developed into the Hopewell culture.

Learn by doing: build a serpent mound of your own in the sand at the beach
More about the Hopewell culture

Bibliography and further reading about Adena history

Or check out the Encyclopedia Britannica article about the Adena.

More about the Hopewell culture
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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