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Adena Complex


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A group of related native American cultures of the early Woodland Period centred on the Ohio area of the USA and dating to the period 1000 bc to 100 bc. Named after the type‐site of Adena, these communities lived in small villages, perhaps seasonally, supported by an essentially hunter‐gatherer economy with limited small‐ scale horticultural use of sunflowers, marsh elder, squashes, and gourds. Distinctive material culture includes cord‐decorated pottery, engraved stone tablets (‘birdstones’ and ‘boatstones’), and ornamented smoking tubes. Copper bracelets, beads, crescents, axes and other items were imported from areas around Lake Superior. Drawing on earlier prototypes, the most impressive and distinctive Adena constructions after about 500 bc were the burial mounds, of which several types have been found. Important individuals were typically interred in log‐lined tombs which were burnt and then covered by a conical earth mound up to 20 m high. In other cases corpses were cremated in a clay oven and the remains then buried under a mound. Elaborate grave goods were often placed with the dead. Adena earthworks also included large geometrically shaped ceremonial constructions and circles. One of the best known is the Great Serpent Mound, Ohio. Adena Complex groups were locally ancestral to the Hopewellian Culture.

Subjects: Archaeology.


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