Hopewell Ceremonial Landscapes Seen Through the Lens of Large-Scale Geophysical Surveys: Big Data, Big Opportunities, Big Challenges

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 81st Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL (2016)

This symposium presents results from recent large-scale geomagnetic surveys of Hopewellian mound and earthwork complexes in Ohio, including several at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, currently under consideration for inscription on the World Heritage List. Until now, these sites were best-known only from 19th century maps. Landscape-scale geophysical surveys are becoming increasingly cost-effective due to recent advances in instrumentation. The availability of multi-sensor arrays and real-time positioning systems permits us to widen our field of view and place individual features, sites, and monuments in landscape context. The recent surveys add rich texture and detail to earlier maps, and reveal many heretofore hidden features of these Hopewell ceremonial landscapes. These new datasets are fertile grounds for novel interpretations, and they harbor opportunities for greater public appreciation of, and engagement with this Native American contribution to World Heritage. At the same time, the large scale of these datasets presents new challenges for data processing, analysis, and management. This symposium will explore these issues with a view toward advancing archaeological theory and practice in step with advances in archaeo-geophysical instrumentation. Further, this symposium features an international team of participants, promising new perspectives and broader contexts for our understanding of Hopewell ceremonial landscapes.