- Project History
- Interactive Video
- The Mother Ship
- The Ancient Ohio Trail
Two thousand years ago, the eastern Midwest of North America was the heartland of an amazing culture, which produced the largest concentration of precise, monumental earthen enclosures in the world. For the past two decades, the “EarthWorks” project, based at the University of Cincinnati, has been creating interactive multimedia presentations about these astonishing places. Our animated digital recreations evoke the vast scope, beauty, and precision of the earthworks. Multi-layered and multi-voiced interpretations explore their origins and contemporary meanings.
An Interactive Video Navigation (IVN) format puts audiences in the driver’s seat. At the end of each video scene, users can select locations and topics within our virtual spatial landscapes. Deep, intricate flowcharts ensure a highly exploratory experience; multiple choice points are represented in 3D space to preserve the “architectural” experience. Rich, diverse content is based on years of research: we interviewed not only the archaeological experts but many scholars from various disciplines, and also many Native American leaders, experts, and storytellers: all these voices appear throughout our earthworks tours.
Typical “Interactive Video Navigation” scene flowchart
Video Interview segments from Archaeologists, Native American leaders, and others
The largest exhibit version, completed in 2006 with funding from the NEH, covers earthworks in the region comprehensively. It toured the country for several years and has now been installed at the Ohio Historical Society’s museum in Columbus, part of the permanent exhibit there on the state’s extensive archaeological collections. The design of this exhibit, and a virtual model, is described in a short video. Some of our favorite scenes from the exhibit are linked below; these and many more are now also available along the new and expanded Ancient Ohio Trail.
The new, vast Ancient Ohio Trail website has adapted our materials from all these exhibits, and added much more, and re-formatted it for heritage tourism. With online videos, interactive maps, topical and thematic menus, a mobile version, curated driving routes, detailed print-PDFs, food and lodging suggestions, and even a few “augmented reality” experiences (still in construction), you can plan a detailed itinerary among these wonders of the ancient world, either virtually or actually. We recommend touring the interactive maps, and exploring the 300 “pins” that open up our video and photo content across the region. Also funded by the NEH.
Offering travel guides, maps, brochures, posters
The Ancient Ohio Trail website contains over 300 map pins connecting to pages and videos
Mobile website, The Ancient Ohio Trail (2013)
Location-based Augmented Reality Channel, Fort Ancient (2013)
Interactive experiences with virtual artifacts through Augmented Reality (2013)
Between 2001 and 2006, largely funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the EarthWorks project produced several site-based exhibits and two computer disc publications (now out of print). Little Miami River sites are featured in a version running at the Cincinnati Museum Center. Hopewell Culture National Historical Park commissioned an interactive exhibit for its visitor’s center in Chillicothe, Ohio, which is now being upgraded to HD with new content. Site specific editions run at the especially spectacular Newark Earthworks (Great Circle visitor’s center) and the Ohio Historical Society’s museum at the Fort Ancient Earthworks. Our newest interactive video exhibit opened in 2013 at the Newtown, Ohio, Municipal Building (just east of Cincinnati), featuring the archaeological discoveries along that section of the Little Miami River.
Exhibit Concept sketch, 1997
Exhibit Design, Mound City Visitors Center, Chillicothe, Ohio, 2002
Exhibit Design, “EarthWorks” traveling exhibit, 2004
EarthWorks exhibit, permanent installation at Ohio Historical Center, Columbus, 2011
Our Favorite Scenes
The EarthWorks Project
John E. Hancock, Project Director
College of DAAP, Univ of Cincinnati
2624 Clifton Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0016
A production of CERHAS, The Center for the Electronic Reconstruction of Historical and Archaeological Sites, University of Cincinnati.
John E. Hancock, Professor of Architecture
In collaboration with the staff and consultants of CERHAS, at the University of Cincinnati: especially Elizabeth Bartley, Jose Kozan - Virtual Grounds Interactive, Cathryn Long, and our many content advisors and research and graduate assistants over the years, plus:
The Newark Earthworks Center, at The Ohio State University at Newark
The Ohio Historical Society
The US National Park Service, Hopewell Culture National Historical Park
The Cincinnati Museum Center
The Steering Committee for the “Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks” UNESCO World Heritage Nomination
The Ohio Humanities Council