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18 March 2007
Circles in Delaware Co. woods suggest pre-historic site

The Delaware County Office of Geographic Information System stumbled onto what scientists believe to be a well-preserved earthwork built by pre-historic, Woodland Indians. The site recently came to the attention of the Indiana Department of Transportation. "It's absolutely critical we keep this one," said Don Cochran, director of archaeological research at Ball State University. "This is one we don't know anything about."
     With the exception of Mounds State Park, most of the 300-plus known mounds and enclosures built by the Hopewell-Adena people around 2,000 years ago in East Central Indiana have been completely or partially destroyed by agriculture, development and artifact hunters. "We had printed out a large topographical map for the county surveyor," said Kyle Johnson, the county's GIS coordinator. "There was a series of rings in the corner of the map that stuck out and caught our eye. You don't see things like that - perfect circles."
     Johnson identified the owner, who agreed to meet GIS staff at the site in the middle of a woods. "It was like a big, round ditch," Johnson recalled. "The owner didn't know anything about it. We went to Ball State, which seemed interested, but the owner wouldn't let them check it out."
That was more than a year ago. "The owner has not given us access to investigate it, but it does show up very dramatically on Google Earth," Cochran said. "It certainly looks like an aboriginal enclosure like the ones at Mounds State Park. This thing has been hidden all these years. It's a totally lost one. And from what we can tell, the ditch is certainly well preserved."
     The possibly primitive structure, made from earth, appears to be a circular enclosure, constructed by excavating a ditch. The circular ditch, 150 feet in diameter, encloses a space called a central platform by archaeologists. Beth McCord, assistant director of archaeological research at Ball State, noted that until researchers gain access, it's somewhat of a question as to whether the site is actually pre-historic, McCord said.
     "Not all isolated circles have mounds on the central platform. If there is a mound on the central platform, it's typically associated with burials." If the site turns out to be an enclosure, it would be very rare for it to have survived, McCord said. "If this is one of the only surviving structures from that time period, it's extremely important in terms of preserving that part of history," she said.
     
Source: Muncie Star Press (12 March 2007)

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