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Photos: Ancient Ceremonial Site Discovered in Ohio

Prehistoric ceremonial site

Prehistoric ceremonial site

(Image credit: Brian Redmond, Cleveland Museum of Natural History)

A hilltop site discovered in Milan, Ohio, located on a bluff overlooking the Huron River, was likely a prehistoric ceremonial site for "Early Woodland" people 2,300 years ago.

These ancient hunter-gatherers of North American prehistory erected tall, freestanding wooden poles as part of the group's social or religious ceremonies. [Read full story about the prehistoric ceremonial site]

Plethora of artifacts

Plethora of artifacts

(Image credit: Brian Redmond, Cleveland Museum of Natural History)

This spear tip was among hundreds of artifacts discovered at the prehistoric ceremonial site in Milan, Ohio, by a team from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Setting records

Setting records

(Image credit: Brian Redmond, Cleveland Museum of Natural History)

A field image of one of the largest and deepest "post molds" recorded during excavations at the Heckelman archaeological site in northern Ohio.

The post molds are pits that were dug to hold the free-standing poles upright.

Ancient artifact

ancient artifact

(Image credit: Brian Redmond, Cleveland Museum of Natural History)

A number of prehistoric artifacts have been uncovered at the Heckelman site since the 1950s, including pottery, spear points and knife blades.

Pieces of history

Pieces of history

(Image credit: Brian Redmond, Cleveland Museum of Natural History)

This pottery fragment was likely used to prepare and serve ceremonial meals at the Heckelman site, which was established around 300 B.C.

Pole clusters

Pole Clusters Figure

(Image credit: Brian Redmond/Midcontinental Journal of Archaology)

Block excavation area of an unusual oval enclosure showing Early Woodland pits, post pits and large post molds, offering the earliest evidence of nonmortuary ceremonialism in Ohio.

Ceremonial pit

Ceremonial pit

(Image credit: Brian Redmond, Cleveland Museum of Natural History)

A field image of a pit that was uncovered at the Heckelman site. This pit, likely dug to hold a wooden pole upright, was surrounded by a cluster of posts erected by prehistoric people about 2,300 years ago.

In the field

Dr. Brian Redmond in the field

(Image credit: Brian Scanlan, Cleveland Museum of Natural History)

Brian Redmond (left) of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History supervises the exposure of a prehistoric pit feature by volunteers of the Firelands Archaeological Research Center at the Early Woodland Heckelman site in 2012.

Heckelman site

Heckelman Site Figure

(Image credit: Brian Redmond/Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology)

Topographic setting of the Heckelman site in Milan, Ohio, showing positions of earthwork features and creek drainages.

Excavated pit

Excavated Post Pit

(Image credit: Brian Redmond, Cleveland Museum of Natural History)

A field image of a post pit at the Heckelman site, showing a large post mold at the base of the basin.