Amazon civilization--note on the Great Hopewell Road

Mark Lause MLause at
Sat Sep 20 07:01:56 MDT 2003

These kinds of archaeological discoveries caution us against the
arrogance of our own civilization.  The "road" issue in the Amazon
recalls the last few times I've gone on the road looking for the
Hopewell people around here.

Monumental earthworks graced parts of North America, raised by peoples
who were "Precolumbian"--that is, before the Great Dying.  The name of
the Hopewell culture is that of the white farmer on whose land their
artificats were first identified.  Their works were centered near here
along the Scioto River valley.  In recent years, Ohio archaeologist Brad
Lepper has unearthed impressive evidence for what's been referred to as
the Great Hopewell Road...a causeway with earthen banks extending many
miles from the remarkable lunar-aligned octagon-circle complex at
present Newark (outside Columbus) to what was a similarly aligned
complex near present Chillicothe.  There were similar works extending
down to present Portsmouth on the Ohio River and across the river into
Kentucky...mostly long obliterated.

To my mind, the case for such an achievement is fairly solid.  Skeptics
point out that Lepper has not been able to survey evidence for the road
along the full length he says was there.  Instead, he has only located
bits of pieces of it along the line between these different sites.
However, we'd only be likely left with bits and pieces to find, given
the inverse decimation of native peoples and the destruction of these
works by the first white settlers and later developers.  The yardstick
of proof for coming to tentative conclusions has to be calibrated to the
sort of proof likely to be there.

Of course, you couldn't drive any of these roads today...even if one of
them physically survived intact.  These were not highways to get people
physically from Point A to Point B, but processional ways with a
significance nobody alive today can fully understand.  To some extent,
that's probably the case with these new finds in the Amazon as well.

Mark L.

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