Fort Ancient is a museum and grounds representing the Native American cultures which once inhabited the area. It contains a museum and surrounding grounds with trails to explore the ancient site.
The history of the area is long and complicated. The first people to build a village at the site were the Hopewell people. They were a mound building society, which they inherited from the Adena. Some of the best examples of this are at Hopewell Culture National Historic Park. The Hopewell Culture only lasted until the 500’s. About 500 years later people of the Fort Ancient culture took over the site and used the area until the arrival of Europeans. It is because of the walls and mounds on the site that the first archaeologist to study the area thought that the recent inhabitants had used it as a fort. Only recently has it be understood that the walls and the later village were from separate unrelated cultures.
The museum offers 9,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space. There are exhibits on the first Ohioans, how they used the land, their first contact with the Europeans, and the conflict which ensued. There is also a prehistoric garden, showing all the crops that would have been grown during the time. There are lots of hands on exhibits too.
Fort Ancient is not just a museum but also a great outdoor space. It is the largest outdoor historic site of its kind in the country. There are 2.5 miles of walking trails. These trails allow one to see the historic mounds and also the surrounding countryside. There are two overlooks that give a great view. The trails are easily accessed from parking lots throughout. The park is nice because what is learned at museum can be experienced in the natural setting. The maps and dioramas in the museums show off where everything used to be, so seeing this outside really adds to the overall experience.
As one of the best museums in the state for the history of the area before the influx of Europeans, Fort Ancient is a must see for an Ohio History buff.
Tip: Fort Ancient is worth a visit on its own, but is also part of the Ohio History Connection and is free with Membership