SunWatch Indian Village

SunWatch Site
SunWatch Village
SunWatch Indian Village is located in Ohio
SunWatch Indian Village
SunWatch Indian Village is located in the United States
SunWatch Indian Village
Location2301 W. River Rd., Dayton, Ohio
Coordinates39°42′59″N 84°13′54″W / 39.71634°N 84.231577°W / 39.71634; -84.231577Coordinates:39°42′59″N 84°13′54″W / 39.71634°N 84.231577°W / 39.71634; -84.231577
Area3 acres (1.2 ha)
NRHP reference No.75001500[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPApril 1, 1975
Designated NHLJune 21, 1990

SunWatch Indian Village / Archaeological Park, previously known as the Incinerator Site, and designated by the Smithsonian trinomial 33-MY-57, is a reconstructed Fort Ancient Native American village next to the Great Miami River on West River Road in Dayton, Ohio. The dwellings and site plan of the 3-acre (1.2 ha) site are based on lengthy archeological excavations sponsored by the Dayton Society of Natural History, which owns and operates the site as an open-air museum. Because of its archaeological value, the site was listed in 1974 on the National Register of Historic Places. Since that time, as the many years of archaeological research at the site have led to important findings about the Fort Ancient culture, SunWatch Indian Village was designated in 1990 as a National Historic Landmark.[2]


(c) Herb Roe, CC BY-SA 4.0
Artist's conception of the SunWatch Indian Village

Amateurs had found some prehistoric materials at the site in the 1960s. Professional excavation began in 1971 as a salvage operation when the city planned a sewage treatment plant. With the discovery of significant artifacts and the remains of a stockaded village, the city changed its plans to preserve the site. Excavations continued through 1988 and are generally completed, although additional small studies have been done. The studies have revealed much about the original people's dwellings, social organization, diets, burial practices and other aspects of their lives at the site. The circular village, surrounded by defensive palisades, was occupied for about 20 years, with a total population of about 250. They depended on farming and hunting.

Scholars have named it Sun Watch because, since studies of the 1980s, they believe that a complex of posts in the plaza related to astronomical measurements. The Fort Ancient culture people, whose society was based on agriculture, would have planned rituals around a solar calendar.

With reconstructed dwellings, a plaza and gardens, and an interpretive center, the village was opened in 1988 to the public as an open-air museum. Interpretive tours are offered as well as a variety of educational programs and special events developed in collaboration with Native American and other groups. Archaeological excavations are ongoing in the area, with special opportunities for school groups, graduate students, and adult learners.

Additional artifacts and exhibits are held in the related Boonshoft Museum of Discovery in Dayton. These help interpret the history and culture of the people, and show more of the artifacts recovered at the site than can be displayed at SunWatch.

See also

  • Boonshoft Museum of Discovery
  • List of National Historic Landmarks in Ohio


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  2. ^ "NHL nomination for SunWatch Site". National Park Service. Retrieved 2018-03-27.

Further reading

  • Allman, John C. (1968) "The Incinerator Village Site," Ohio Archaeologist 18 (2): 50–55.
  • Cook, Robert A. (2008) SunWatch: Fort Ancient Development in the Mississippian World, Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.
  • Heilman, J., Malinda Lileas and Chris Turnbow (editors) (1988) A History of 17 Years of Excavation and Reconstruction: A Chronicle of 12th Century Human Values and the Built Environment Volumes I and II, Dayton Museum of Natural History, Dayton, Ohio.
  • Heilman, James M. and Roger Hoefer (1981) "Possible Astronomical Alignments in a Fort Ancient Settlement at the Incinerator Site in Dayton, Ohio," in Archaeoastronomy in the Americas, ed. Ray Williamson, Los Altos, California: Ballena Press/ Center for Archaeoastronomy.

External links

Media related to Sunwatch village at Wikimedia Commons

Media files used on this page

USA Ohio location map.svg
Author/Creator: Alexrk2, Licence: CC BY 3.0
Location map of Ohio, USA
Usa edcp location map.svg
Author/Creator: Uwe Dedering, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Location map of the USA (without Hawaii and Alaska).

Central parallel:

* N: 37.0° N

Central meridian:

* E: 96.0° W

Standard parallels:

* 1: 32.0° N
* 2: 42.0° N

Made with Natural Earth. Free vector and raster map data @

Formulas for x and y:

x = 50.0 + 124.03149777329222 * ((1.9694462586094064-({{{2}}}* pi / 180))
      * sin(0.6010514667026994 * ({{{3}}} + 96) * pi / 180))
y = 50.0 + 1.6155950752393982 * 124.03149777329222 * 0.02613325650382181
      - 1.6155950752393982  * 124.03149777329222 *
     (1.3236744353715044  - (1.9694462586094064-({{{2}}}* pi / 180)) 
      * cos(0.6010514667026994 * ({{{3}}} + 96) * pi / 180))
S.E.C.C. hero twins 3 HRoe 2007-transparent.png
Author/Creator: Original author: User:Heironymous Rowe, Licence: CC BY 3.0
S.E.C.C. design of the Hero Twins based on a Mississippian culture shell engraving from the Spiro Mounds site. Modified from original to add background transparency.
Plaque declaring "this property has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior"
SunWatch Indian Village.
Sunwatch Aerial illustration HRoe 2018 400px.jpg
(c) Herb Roe, CC BY-SA 4.0
Artists conception of the"SunWatch Indian", also known as the Incinerator Site (33-MY-57), a Fort Ancient culture Native American village located next to the Great Miami River in modern Dayton, Ohio. The circular village consisted of a number of wattle and daub houses and was surrounded by a defensive palisades. It was occupied for about 20 years in the 13th century, with a total population of about 250. Digital illustration, all rights held by the artist, Herb Roe © 2018.