SunWatch
 

SunWatch

2301 W. River Road
Dayton, OH 45417
(937) 268-8199
Directions

Hours

April–November
Tuesday-Saturday
9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Sunday: noon-5:00 p.m.
Closed on Mondays

DecemberMarch
Saturday
9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Sunday: noon-5:00 p.m.
*Closed Monday-Friday, except by appointment

Closed: New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Easter

General Admission

Adults $7.00
Seniors (60+) 6.00
Students (6-17) $6.00
Members are always Free!

 

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SunWatch Ongoing Research and Programs

House construction

SunWatch Indian Village/Archaeological Park is a partially-reconstructed Fort Ancient period American Indian Village along the Great Miami River in Dayton, Ohio. The Fort Ancient culture as defined by archaeologists occupied the Middle Ohio River Valley between about AD 1000 and AD 1650 from what is now southeastern Indiana east to modern day West Virginia. For more information about SunWatch and the Fort Ancient peoples who lived in this area.

SunWatch Village

SunWatch Indian Village/Archaeological Park is a partially-reconstructed Fort Ancient period American Indian Village along the Great Miami River in Dayton, Ohio. The Fort Ancient culture as defined by archaeologists occupied the Middle Ohio River Valley between about AD 1000 and AD 1650 from what is now southeastern Indiana east to modern day West Virginia.

SunWatch, originally named the Incinerator Site, was first excavated and reported on in the 1960's by amateur archaeologists John Allman and Charles Smith. When news came in the early 1970's that City of Dayton plans to expand a nearby sewage treatment plant onto the property would impact the site Allman and Smith contacted James Heilman, the Curator of Anthropology at the Dayton Museum of Natural History, in hopes of recovering as much valuable information from the site as possible. In 1971 the Dayton Museum of Natural History (now the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery) began "salvage" excavations at the site with just this goal in mind.

This initial work was designed to recover as much data from the Village as possible prior to the proposed destruction of the site to make way for the sewage treatment plant expansion. As excavations continued a planned, stockaded Village which was estimated to have been occupied for about 20 years and included apparent astronomical alignments was revealed. The roughly 3 acre Village site contained many well preserved artifacts, including fragile items such as crayfish pincers, fish scales, turkey egg shell fragments, and even uncharred wood remains. The work at the site also exposed many students and adult volunteers to archaeology for the first time and gave them an appreciation of the archaeology and history of the region.

With the cooperation of the City of Dayton the plans for the expansion of the sewage treatment plant were modified, and with the assistance of the city, numerous volunteers, scholars, and supporters the site was saved from destruction. Soon after planning began to interpret and open the site to the public.

excavation and researchOn July 29, 1988, after 17 years of excavation and research by the Dayton Society of Natural History, SunWatch opened to the public. Seasonal excavations continued through 1989. The years of excavation at the site, combined with additional analysis and research, have resulted in a remarkable understanding of the site's original inhabitants. SunWatch currently combines experimental archaeological research, including the reconstruction of the Fort Ancient structures in their original 13th century locations, with an interpretive center that exhibits many of the artifacts that have been recovered from the site. The Village reconstruction includes five lath and daub structures with grass thatch roofs, portions of a stockade, and a native garden and prairie with plants typical of the period. Inferred astronomical alignments originate from a complex of posts at the center of the Village that have also been replaced. There is also a picnic shelter and picnic tables overlooking the Village and are available for visitors to relax.

Heilman-Kettering Interpretive CenterIn June of 2006 the Heilman-Kettering Interpretive Center at SunWatch reopened after an extensive renovation added over 6,000 square feet to the facility which included a new lecture room that can be divided in two and used for lectures, seminars, receptions, traveling exhibits, and other events, as well as a meeting room that overlooks the reconstructed Village, a handicap lift to provide access to the new second floor, and additional restrooms and other amenities to provide for the comfort and enjoyment of our guests.

Because of its archaeological and historical significance SunWatch was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and became a National Historic Landmark in 1990.

Research and analysis continue today on the remains uncovered at SunWatch. Continuing analysis of the artifacts (pottery, stone tools, bone tools, textiles fragments, and others) and their artifact distribution as well as the locations of houses, trash pits and other features at the site continue to allow us to better understand the lives of the villagers who lived at SunWatch.

For a list of publications on SunWatch click here. For more information, please call 937-268-8199.