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Mysteries of the Hopewell

Astronomers, Geometers, and Magicians of the Eastern Woodlands

By William F. Romain

Publication Year: 2000

Buried beneath today's Midwestern towns, under several layers of earth and the accumulated debris of two thousand years, are the clues to an ancient mystery. A Native American people, now known as the Hopewell, lived and worked these lands, building earthworks which in some instances dwarf the ruins at Stonehenge. More significantly, these mammoth earthworks were built in different geometric shapes, using a standard unit of measure and aligned to the cycles of the sun and the moon. Using the foundation of existing scholarship, Mysteries of the Hopewell presents new discoveries showing the accomplishments of the Mound Builders in astronomy, geometry, measurement, and counting. William Romain then goes one step further to theorize why generations of people toiled to move millions of tons of earth to form these precise structures, joining the ranks of the Egyptians, Mayans, Greeks, Chinese, and other advanced ancient cultures. William Romain's Mysteries of the Hopewell will appeal to many readers, including anthropologists, mathematicians, and historians, but perhaps especially to readers curious about ancient cultures and seeking explanations for these magnificent earthen structures.

Published by: The University of Akron Press


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pp. ix-xi

Looking back on it, now, it all seems quite remarkable. Understandably, then, there will be people who doubt what follows. Nevertheless, I must tell of my findings that show, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the Native Americans who lived here—in eastern North America some two thousand years ago—were accomplished in...

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pp. 1-8

They’re all dead now. But sometimes, in the early morning, when the fog is still hovering there in the valley and the ground is wet with dew, one can almost make out the ancient encampments of the Hopewell there in the shifting, changing mist. Other times it happens at night, when shadows from the fire flicker and dart about like wandering...

Part One: Physical Parameters

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1. The Enchanted Valley

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pp. 11-31

For most living creatures, certain places are special. Deep in our primate memory, we can recall a time when we cautiously made our way to a favorite pond or stream. There, life-giving water awaited us. Or maybe it was at the end of a day in the forest when we scurried about, looking for a hiding place to sleep, secure in some enclosed and...

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2. Sacred Geometry

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pp. 32-64

I was in Nepal, along the Tibetan border, on my way to Base Camp I, Mount Everest. Chomolungma—“Goddess Mother of the World”—that is what the Sherpas call the mountain. And scattered along its way, in the shadow of the mountain, are a number of small Buddhist temples, safe havens for a tired...

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3. Measuring and Counting

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pp. 65-100

It was the perfect day for a flight. The sun was bright, the air was crisp, and there was just the hint of a breeze out of the southwest. Poised at the end of the runway, the little airplane strained at its brakes. I made a last minute check of the instruments, set the flaps, and eased the throttle forward. Faster and faster the propeller...

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4. Hopewell Astronomy

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pp. 101-142

In the dream world existence between conception and birth, each of us floated in a formless darkness surrounded by warm amniotic fluid. Suspended between consciousness and eternity, we had little or no awareness of up and down, front and back, left and right, future or past. We did not relate to the universe in those...

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5. Azimuths to the Otherworld

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pp. 143-160

Among all the powers of the heavens that are visible to the naked eye, surely the sun is the most awesome. Still, there comes a time, at the end of the day, when the sun disappears and yields its dominion of the sky to the mysterious, silver...

Part Two: The Hopewell Worldview

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6. Symbols of Earth and Sky

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pp. 163-200

Essentially, the idea is that our brains are hardwired in such a way that we find geometric patterns in visual fields, even when such patterns do not objectively exist. Consider, for example, the design shown in figure 6.1. Most people see a square. But, in reality, what we see as a square has no existence by itself. Take away the funny little...

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7. Sacred Ceremonies

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pp. 201-226

Night was beginning to fall and a storm threatened, so I sought shelter in a small, rundown village. I found the local version of a bed and breakfast, and after a simple meal of boiled potatoes, I was getting ready to settle in for the night. That was when he showed up—the local shaman. It was hard to tell how old he was, maybe late...

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8. Conclusion

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pp. 227-231

On July 20, 1969, at 10:56 p.m. eastern standard time, human beings from the planet earth set foot on the moon. For many of us who witnessed this event on television, our journey to another celestial body was humankind’s greatest achievement so...

Appendix: The Serpent Mound

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pp. 233-253

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pp. 255-256

And so we come to the end of our journey. It has been said that half the fun of any trip is getting there. And, certainly, this has been true for me. While researching and writing this book, I met dozens of fascinating people and had many interesting adventures. Now it is my pleasure to thank those who helped me along...


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pp. 257-268


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pp. 269-272

E-ISBN-13: 9781935603245
E-ISBN-10: 1935603248
Print-ISBN-13: 9781931968041
Print-ISBN-10: 1931968047

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 181 line drawings, 4 graphs, 30 photos
Publication Year: 2000