A presentation on the Hopewell civilization that inhabited the Midwest before European settlement will be at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at 407 S. Main St., Albany, Illinois, presented by the Friends of the Albany Indian Mounds Foundation.

Most people living in the Midwest today consider the history of the region to have started about 200 years ago with the arrival of early settlers, but there were earlier civilizations that inhabited the area's river valleys for the past 10,000 years.

The Hopewell mounds in Sinnissippi Park in Sterling, Illinois, and those at the Albany Mounds State Historic Site in Albany are a testament to that earlier, highly developed society which inhabited the area more than 2,000 years ago and left behind more than 7,700 known sites of their activities throughout Illinois.

Theirs was a thriving civilization, a crossroads for trade and a center for mining, using and trading pipestone.

The presentation will be given by Wolf Koch and his wife, Linnea, both of Sterling, who have been studying accounts of Adena and Hopewell archeological research and have traveled to many mound builder sites in Ohio and Illinois.

Wolf Koch is a consultant to the oil and petrochemical industry and has been a professor of chemical engineering. Linnea Koch is a graphic designer and photographer who has produced three interpretive panels for the Sinnissippi Park that describe the history of the Hopewell civilization.

In 2009, the Kochs completed a booklet on the Hopewell civilization in the Rock River Valley for use as a resource in teaching local history.

Centered in south-central Ohio, the Hopewell civilization built elaborate earth works and thousands of burial mounds throughout the river valleys of the Midwest. The people established trading routes for copper and silver from northern Michigan, sea shells from Florida, to chert and obsidian as far north and west as the Athabasca region of Canada.

In northwestern Illinois, the Hopewell people established several large settlements and found a preferred pipestone deposit which they mined.

Recent data shows that 80 percent of stone pipes found in one of south-eastern Ohio’s most prominent Hopewell mounds were made from Sterling-area pipestone; manufactured goods from villages throughout this region were distributed over long distances throughout the Hopewell trading sphere, making northwestern Illinois an important center for manufacturing and commerce 2,000 years ago.

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