Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ft. Ancient

Tom Mitts invited us up to his house in Newport to celebrate our birthdays, which are 1 day apart. As a day time activity, we decided to visit Ft. Ancient, which is a complex indian earthworks located a few miles north east of Cincinnati. (most photos on this posting by Meg White).

Upon arrival, everyone's attention was caught by feathered shafts sticking up out of a trash can out in front of the museum.

Instantly, I realized that they were atl-atls. There was a stream of visitors who were giving it a try - once it was explained how it worked.

Meg (in her White stripes T shirt) knew how to handle an atl-atl. We have a friend, George Nall, who makes them and had brought some out to our studio for us to try. (photo Tom Mitts)

It was all new to my friend Tom. "Like this?"

"No...like this."

There was a sign next to the museum that said "Stone Circle trail". That appealed to my celtic nature, so we set off to see the stone circles. We had trouble finding them. The sign to the right of the picture said that there were 3 stone circles a few feet to the south east. We're not looking for the stone circles in the tree tops. We're trying to figure out from the sun which way was south east.

"This...is a stone circle?" I was expecting...I dunno...maybe a circle...of stones. Not a thin rock pile almost completely obscured by forest debris.

Equally underwhelming, was my visit inside the Ft. Ancient Museum. As weird as this sounds, there were no Ft. Ancient culture artifacts in the Ft. Ancient museum (none that I saw, anyway). I would have guessed that they would have found all sorts of cool stuff at Ft. Ancient over the years, but if they did, it wasn't very well represented in the museum. I thought that I might see 'museum-quality' artifacts inside the museum (silly me). What I saw was mostly empty walls. There was a lot of signage and 'interpretive' displays with a smattering of low-end (common) artifacts with major condition problems (and poorly labeled). Anything that was cool was a replica, but that doesn't bother me, as you can get a lot of information looking at a good casting.

Besides a lack of Ft. Ancient Culture items, there were no Glacial Kame items, no mention of Flint Ridge, no cones, discoidals, Birdstones etc etc. I would have expected to see representations of all the major point types and slate artifact forms that are found in Ohio. Ohio has a richness in prehistoric heritage that goes beyond science - there is an incredible variety of ancient art pieces in pottery, flint and stone. The museum was curated in such a way as if to say ..."isn't archaeology boring - we never find anything of signifigance. So, just leave it to the professionals. Move along, move along."

On the way back to Tom's place, he pointed out that they are putting the finishing touches on what will be the tallest building in Cincinnati.

Tom is an incredible cook. He had the best tomatillo-based salsa that I've ever tasted in my life. Steaks, ribs, Cornish game hens, etc. etc. The idea was to have too much good food.

Mission Accomplished! Happy birthday to me.

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