Anyone who has ever had a remote interest in anthropology and archaeology would do well to consider a trip to the “SunWatch Indian Village and Archaeological Park” in Dayton, Ohio. It is one of a handful of sites that are connected to the elusive Fort Ancient people.
What follows is a succinct summary of what visitors to the site can expect to find there.
Description of the Complex
The “SunWatch Indian Village and Archaeological Park” consists of a museum, theater, picnic area and interpretive center along with a looped, outdoor path that takes visitors through a partially reconstructed, Fort Ancient Indian village.
Throughout the complex there are approximately 18 stations that describe in some detail the lives of the village’s former residents.
Perhaps one of the more curious features of the settlement is the layout itself. Like “Stonehenge” and the “Great Pyramids”, the Dayton settlement was designed with intricate, astral dimensions in mind.
The five, reconstructed buildings that encompass the village are of lath and daub engineering topped with traditional, thatched roofs.
In addition to the reconstructed buildings, there is a series of reconstructed, wooden poles that are at the heart of the village. These poles, for reasons not yet fully understood, are what were strategically placed in alignment with the stars.
The Fort Ancient people were agrarian in nature and dominated the Middle Ohio River Valley and Northern Kentucky between 1000 and 1650 AD.
Considered to be earthen mound builders, Fort Ancients are believed to have been the last indigenous people to inhabit the Dayton, Ohio area.
Purportedly other Ohio based Fort Ancient sites include “Fort Ancient”, the “Alligator Mound” and the “Serpent Mound.” To date not much else is known about the demise the Fort Ancient culture.
The majority of the 1,400,000 artifacts excavated from the site are currently housed nearby at the “Boonshoft Museum” on DeWeese Parkway.
Artifacts include pottery shards, remnants of early tools, bone fragments, shells, charred wood, textile fragments and the skeletal remains of discarded food items such as crayfish claws.
Tours of the “SunWatch Indian Village and Archaeological Park” are generally self-guided. However, a 45 minute audio tour is available for $2 per person.
Furthermore, groups of 20 or more may pre-request a docent guided tour for an additional fee.
There are a variety of educational resources on the “SunWatch Indian Village and Archaeological Park’s” website including information on community outreach programs offered by the facility’s staff.
Resources include suggested lesson plans and innovative activities such as “Mummy Wrap” and “Edible Archeology.”
A schedule of the year round special events offered at the facility is available on the facility’s website.
Hours of Operation
As of 2011 the “SunWatch Indian Village and Archaeological Park” is open year round, Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm. It is also open on Sunday from noon until 5:00 pm and closed on some major holidays.
Although the museum is open until 5:00 pm, the on-site museum store and reconstructed village close at 4:30 pm.
Admission is $5 per adult and $3 per child between the ages of 6 through 17. There are discounted admission prices for both senior citizens and groups as well.
SunWatch Indian Village and Archaeological Park
2301 West River Road
Dayton, OH 45418
SunWatch Indian Village and Archaeological Park, “Home” SunWatch Indian Village and Archaeological Park
Ohio History Central, “Fort Ancient Culture” Ohio History Central