Sun Watch

SunWatch Indian Village / Archaeological Park is a recreated Fort Ancient Native American village that sits alongside the Great Miami River in Dayton, Ohio.

Amateur archeologists discovered  some ancient materials at the site in the 1960s. Their discovery lead to  a team of professional archeologists carefully excavating the site from 1971-1988. Findings from the archaeological work were used to help recreate the village. It was named Sun Watch because historians believe the  posts in the center of the village related to astronomical measurements. The Fort Ancient culture people would have planned rituals around a solar calendar.

The village as it stands today was opened to the public as an open-air museum. Archaeological excavations are ongoing. Exhibits in the museum help interpret the history and culture of the people, and show some of the artifacts recovered at the site.

Because of its historical and archaeological value, the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Because the many years of archaeological excavations at the 3-acre (12,000 m2) site revealed so much about Fort Ancient culture, SunWatch Indian Village was recognized in 1990 as a National Historic Landmark.


Fort Ancient Culture

The Fort Ancient culture thrived in southern Ohio and northern Kentucky from 1000-1750. Their villages were made up of a number of circular or rectangular houses surrounding an open plaza. The Fort Ancient people continued to build small burial mounds, but gradually shifted to burials in a cemetery area with no mounds. They were a corn based agricultural society.  The Fort Ancient culture was once thought to have been an part of the Mississippian cultures, but is now considered a culture descended from the Hopewell.

There is evidence that the Fort Ancient culture built Serpent Mound in Adams County, Ohio. They also may have built the “Alligator” Mound of Licking County.


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