Historic Greenspace Archeological Dig Area Opens to Public this Summer

A continuation of an archeological dig on Greenspace property known for its abundant artifacts will be open to the public this summer for the first time. The site has been home to numerous prior digs, starting in the 1880s.  

From July 15 to August 21, new excavations will be ongoing at the site, most of which will be very close to the Little Miami Scenic bike trail. The public is invited to learn more about the project, share their memories of the property and to see current discoveries from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays during those six weeks. 

The excavation is a follow-up event to revisit the work already completed on previous projects, according to Greenspace Inspector Suzanne Clingman. “The front fields of the 109-acre Greenspace includes a terrace along Ohio 32 known by archaeologists as the Turpin site. The site contains the remains of ancient villages and mounds mainly from the Late Woodland and Fort Ancient time periods,” said Clingman. The dig site property is located on the north side of Ohio 32 and the entrance is just east of Clough Pike. Parking is available on the west side of the Speedway gas station. 

Bob Genheimer, the Curator of Archaeology at the Cincinnati Museum Center, noted that three major excavations have been undertaken since 1885. Harvard University’s Peabody Museum conducted the earliest excavations of the area and located postholes, wall trench house segments, house basins, trash pits and burial sites on the property. One of the village areas that Harvard excavated early on will be further investigated to gather key information left behind. Additional work on the Greenspace will explore the Turpin farmstead to better understand the lifestyles of the region's first Euro-American inhabitants. From 1946 through 1949 and then again in 1969 through 1972, the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History hosted large-scale excavations on the Turpin property. Excavations beginning in the late 1960s focused on additional domestic areas.  Ohio State University conducted a small-scale exploration in 2015 and 2016, focused on locating prehistoric houses by excavating wall trenches. The findings of this study revealed information on how village life and agriculture developed in the Ohio Valley and surrounding areas. 

The current project is co-directed by Dr. Robert Cook of Ohio State University and Rebecca Hawkins, president of Algonquin Consultants. Dr. Aaron Comstock and Dr. Michael Sherfy are principal investigators for archaeology and history, respectively. Bob Genheimer and other staff from the Cincinnati Museum Center will assist with the project. Project members will be at the site to discuss findings.  

According to Cook, “The Turpin site has long factored into the history of American archaeology but suffered by mostly being excavated before modern methods were developed. By revisiting these earlier excavations, we can greatly increase the usefulness of existing collections without excavating undisturbed parts of the site.” 

Research at the site has also lacked descendant involvement, which is being prioritized in this project, said Hawkins “We strongly feel that by doing so we will begin to more fully and truly understand the site’s significance,” she said.