Ancient Civilizations

Historical Marker #2635 in Covington, Kentucky, highlights the more than 12,000-year history of humans living, farming, and hunting in the Kenton County area near the Ohio and Licking Rivers.

The earliest documented groups of people living and shaping the valleys of what would become Kenton County occurred during the Archaic period, (8,000 BC-1,000 BC). Banklick Creek, a tributary of the Licking River, provided potable water. Along the banks of the creek, berries, breaks, and other early grains were plentiful. In the valleys, various groups established seasonal hunting and living quarters. They cultivated the land, used the grains to create unleavened breads, and shaped stones into rolling pins.

The valleys, creeks, and rivers continued to be sites of encampments, towns, and hunting bases throughout the Woodland and Fort Ancient periods. Archaeological evidence shows that Indigenous Kentuckians traveled throughout the region, walking along established paths and maintaining extensive trade routes. By the early 1000s AD, Fort Ancient groups hunted, grew corn and beans, and lived communally in the area.

At least three significant burial mounds were located in Kenton County, including one in what is now Pioneer Park. Archaeological excavations in 1925 by University of Kentucky researchers found the mound to be 15 feet in diameter and four feet high. The mound contained a triple-walled stone grave and multiple burials around the site. The site at Pioneer Park was destroyed during the construction of the park in 1975.

Fort Ancient people living, farming, and hunting in the area would have first heard of European settler colonists in the early 1600s via their trade networks and routes. The arrival of Anglo and French colonizers brought Small Pox to the Americas and resulted in 50 to 90% of Fort Ancient people’s death. The staggering loss of life led to the collapse of the Fort Ancient communities in the area. Little historical evidence exists from 1650 to the arrival of Anglo-colonists in Northern Kentucky in the later half of the 18th century. The area remained a fertile hunting and gathering ground and ample evidence of Indigenous interactions with white colonists exists as Virginians, North Carolinians, and others began to populate the area.

Kentucky’s Indigenous history is under-represented in the historical marker program. This marker, along with another dedicated in Augusta in 2019, exist to begin to expand our public commemoration of the people who lived, worked, and died on the land before European contact.

The marker was dedicated on September 26, 2021. It reads:

Ancient Civilizations

In 1925, UK researchers  

located and studied a burial  

mound and campsite near here.   

The mound, 15 ft. in diameter   

& 4 ft. high, held a triple-walled   

stone grave in the center with   

several burials surrounding, likely   

from the Ft. Ancient people.   

Pioneer Park was later developed  

on the site & opened in 1976.  

Sponsored by Kenton County Historical Society  


Ancient Civilizations  

Native tribes settled in Northern  

Kentucky over 12,000 years ago.  

Banklick Creek and nearby hills  

were home to deer, bears, and   

other animals for hunting. The   

people gathered wild plants & lived   

in family groups. By the 12th century,   

tribes lived in small villages & grew   

maize & squash. Many sites have been   

discovered & researched in NKY.  

Sponsored by Kenton County Historical Society  



Fort-Ancient-booklet.pdfpdf / 1.28 MB Download