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G. Lola Worthington

Archaeological areas in eastern and southern North America reveal advanced mound building cultures from several different cultural phases. Around 1500 bc, several North American indigenous groups attained the sophisticated cultural “Woodlands” phase. For over a millennium, three principle cultural groups, the Adena, Hopewell and Mississippian, built elaborate advanced earthen structures and large temples in the Upper Ohio Valley of Kentucky and West Virginia. Accompanying the earthen monuments was an ambitious religious devotee system.

The Adena culture flourished in the Upper Ohio Valley, around 800 bc. An excavation in 1902 uncovered the preliminary extensive temple mound building structures ( see Adena Mound ). Precursors to monumental temple building, these sites offer early evidence of organized, sophisticated, cultural communities. The Adena lived in large permanently constructed circular dwellings covered with thatch. For almost 1700 years, the Adena performed extensive elaborate death ritual ceremonies. A notable ritual was burial with specialized élite material objects. Advances in copper metallurgy produced technologically specialized objects ideal for interring with the dead. Commercialized production of funerary objects revealed that greater and more elaborate burial practices were developed for elevated individuals. Material goods became increasingly important for eternal rest and great qualities and object types began to appear. Evolving their burial rites into elaborate practices the Adena increased the size and sophistication of their early temple mound building construction techniques....