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MOUNDSVILLE AND THE ADENA IN NORTHERN WEST VIRGINIA
In my previous hub,” Moundsville Named For Artifact of The Adena Culture” I described the Grave Creek Mound and the Adena people who built it. I further described other artifacts of these mysterious people who lived around here so long ago. Their tools, and customs were described as far as scientists have delved into these mysterious ancestors of the Native Americans.
I hope to inform you, the reader of other and in some ways even more impressive artifacts, and constructions of these ancestors of Native Americans who populated this land before Europeans set foot on this soil.
WALLED CITY AT BENS RUN, WEST VIRGINIA
In March of 1992, I started working at a secondary aluminum smelter at Bens Run, West Virginia. Bens Run is a short drive of 45 miles south of Moundsville and is located in Tyler County. I had no clue of the ancient Adena culture that had existed there at that time. I always knew of The Grave Creek Mound for which my hometown of Moundsville was named. I knew the Adena people ranged from Pennsylvania to Illinois and as far south as Louisiana, but I didn’t know about the huge artifact of an earthen walled city at Bens Run. The following account of the description of that huge earthen walled city is extracted from the account of George P. Riggs and his son Nikola as recorded on August 27, 1927.
Mr. Riggs and his son made several exploring trips during the summer of 1926 in the Ben’s Run area. They received help from Mr. Lemuel Parker and Josiah Holdren of Bens Run and Mr. J. R. Wells, of Parkersburg, W. Va. who had known these ancient relics for many years. From the first measurements made it was determined that the fortifications enclosed by the earthen walls consisted of over 400 acres. The length of the outer wall is about 4.5 miles while the inner wall is about 1.875 miles in the north to south direction. The east to west dimensions are around 120 feet with wall height of over 10 feet. This is a magnificent structure for such unknown ancient people.
Within this enclosure, as described by Mr. Riggs are two mounds. One of them is now (in 1926) about four feet high and about sixty feet in circumference. The other one is about fourteen feet high and four hundred and twenty feet in circumference. Just south of the mounds is a cross wall, running from side to side of the enclosure. Then from the cross wall running south toward Bens Run are two long curved walls, lengthwise with the outer walls. The ends of the two curved walls, away from the cross wall, do not connect with any other wall, and are about three hundred feet apart.
Mr. Riggs goes on to describe many other artifacts of the Adena found in the vicinity both on the Ohio and West Virginia side of the river in the bottoms and the hilltops. I believe the most profound impact of these ruins is a question discussed below.
WHO WERE THESE PEOPLE
This is the crucial question that has puzzled investigators for centuries now. There is no clear-cut consensus, but the fact that they were ancient ancestors of the Native Americans we called Indians seems indisputable due to genetic evidence.
Were they nomadic like the Indians? If so why would they build burial mounds as graveyards? Why would they build a walled city? Quoting Mr. Riggs, “The only other fortification of pre-historic times that can be compared in size with the one at Bens Run, is Fort Ancient, about eighteen miles from Xenia, Ohio. Measured around its outer wall its circumference is slightly over 3 miles. Fort Ancient is kept in a good condition of repair, while steady plowing and cultivation for about one hundred and thirty years (in 1927) has almost totally destroyed the earthen walls of the great works at Bens Run.”
The main consensus is that the Adena were a more developed civilization than those found by Europeans who later settled in The United States.