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Professor of Anthropology Unlocks Mystery of the Moorehead Circle

UPublish story by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio, — Robert Riordan, professor of anthropology at Wright State University, will present “The New Past of the Fort Ancient Earthwork” on Wednesday, March 26, at The College of Wooster. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, begins at 7:30 p.m. in Lean Lecture Room of Wishart Hall (303 E. University St.). A reception will follow the presentation.

Fort Ancient in southeastern Ohio is the largest hilltop earthwork constructed by people of the Hopewell culture (AD 1-400). Professional excavators have intermittently conducted work at the site since the 1880s. In 2005, remote sensing methods discovered a previously unknown circular structure in the North Fort that is almost 60 meters in diameter. Dubbed the Moorehead Circle, it has been under investigation by Wright State University field schools in archaeology since 2006. It was composed of concentric rings of standing wooden posts, a formal paved entranceway, a series of sand and gravel-filled trenches, and a central ceremonial complex that included a large structure adjacent to a 4m-diameter pit of red soil. This work is likely to substantially change our understanding of how the Hopewell used the earthwork.

Riordan is an archaeologist and professor of anthropology as well as chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Wright State University. He grew up in northern New Jersey, and was educated at Colgate University and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, from which he received the Ph.D. in anthropology. He has spent several decades seeking to understand the earthwork enclosures of the Hopewell culture in southern Ohio, having conducted major excavation programs at the Pollock Works in Greene County and, since 2006, at the Moorehead Circle ceremonial complex inside the Fort Ancient earthwork.

Riordan’s lecture is sponsored by the Archaeology Student Colloquium, the Program in Archaeology, the Local Society of the Archaeological Institute of America, the Cultural Events Committee, and the local chapter of Lambda Alpha national honor society in anthropology. Additional information is available by phone (330-263-2474) or e-mail (

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