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5 June 2004
Archaeologist's hunt for clues on the Hopewell people

Wichita archaeologist Jim Dougherty is on a information hunt about the Hopewell people who lived from eastern Kansas into Illinois and Ohio (U.S.A.) from approximately 50 BCE to 500 CE. Dougherty hopes to learn more about how far into Kansas these prehistoric people got by studying the artifacts they left behind.
     The Hopewell culture is best known for the earth mounds along the Ohio River, but evidence of their passage has been known from eastern Kansas for decades. Dougherty believes he can trace where the Hopewell were, and possibly when, by finding particular kinds of pottery sherds, certain styles of arrow points, perforated bear teeth, small stone bladelets and other objects.
     The Hopewell influenced other native American cultures as they dispatched trade and acquisition expeditions far and wide. Dougherty says "I am intrigued with the question of the extent to which they may have traveled west. We know they obtained meteorites from southwestern Kansas and obsidian, bear teeth, and bighorn sheep horns from the Rocky Mountains. We do not know, however, what routes they took and where they camped." Dr. David Hughes of Wichita State University says "there are some tempting clues to possible movement of Hopewell ideas and trade goods through Kansas, but we desperately need more information on it. When Jim's study is finished, we may have that information."
     Dr. Donald Blakeslee, also of Wichita State, has worked with Hopewell pipes and meteors. He is certain that Hopewell expeditions from Ohio got at least as far west as Greensburg. "Iron from two sites in Ohio has been identified as coming from the Brenham meteorite," he explains. A large piece of the Brenham meteorite is on display at the Big Well in Greensburg. Blakeslee also suspects, but cannot prove, that Hopewell people visited the Pikes Peak area.
     Dougherty hopes that farmers, ranchers and amateur archaeologists in west-central and western Kansas will help by contacting him if they have found artifacts like those illustrated here. He says that other items could also be suggestive of a Hopewellian influence. These objects could include certain copper ornaments and tools, ceramic figurines, intricately engraved bone, or a cache of fossil shark teeth. Jim Dougherty can be reached at (316) 651-6885, and his mailing address is P.O. Box 17784, Wichita, KS 67217.

Source: Dodgeglobe.com (1 June 2004)

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