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Artist Reconstruction of Late Fort Ancient village at Fox Farm

Fox Farm

Site ID: 15Ms1

Kentucky Archaeological Survey
Unless specified, we cannot provide site location information.


​​​​​​​​​​Fox Farm is a large Fort Ancient village located on a broad upland ridgetop in northern Kentucky. The site is situated near the boundary of the Outer Bluegrass and the Hills of the Bluegrass ecological regions of the Interior Plateau. Fort Ancient peoples often selected locations for their communities that offered a diversity of natural resources. This meant their villages often sat near the boundaries of several ​environmental zones. The broad ridgetops surrounding Fox Farm provided good agricultural soils - places village residents cleared to plant corn, beans, and squash. The wooded ridge slopes provided diverse wild plant foods and wood resources for building structures, heating homes, and cooking food.  

Native farmers occupied the site from 1300 to at least 1650 AD.  As more people moved to Fox Farm, the village grew. This growth is reflected in changes in village organization, house size, and material culture.  ​​

Artist's reconstruction of a Middle Fort Ancient village at Fox Farm.


Initially, Fox Farm was organized as a ring of houses around a central plaza. As village population grew, village organization changed to clusters of houses focused on a large public structure. Village house size increased, too: from 16.5 x 16.5, to 19.9 x 33​​​, to 26.4 x 59.4 feet. Floor space increased from 272 to 653 to 1,568 square feet.

​​With more mouths to feed, Fox Farm residents adjusted their subsistence strategies.  For instance, they appear to have changed how they harvested turkeys, taking twice as many male turkeys as female turkeys. This adjustment may have allowed residents to sustain a viable wild turkey population in the vicinity of their village. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence for local environmental managment, too, which may have contributed to the unique residential longevity of the Fox Farm village.​

Archaeologists and volunteers working at Fox Farm.

What's Cool?

​Deer Offering

One of the most unique discoveries at Fox Farm was a concentration of 11 deer jaws - seven left and four right for a minimum of eight individuals - inside a house wall. It may represent an offering.

Season of death ranged from spring to winter, indicating that the animals had not been killed during a single hunt or during a single season, but had been taken throughout the year. This fact, coupled with the lack of gnawing and weathering on the bones, indicated that residents had curated these deer jaws for an extended period of time before placing them in the ground. A section of a jar found with the jaws may have been used as a tray to transport the bones to the offering location.

Exactly when during the year this offering took place is not known. The location of the deer jaws - along the outside edge of a house basin - suggests that a ritual took place in conjunction with the last rebuilding of the house. Otherwise, subsequent post resetting​ would have disturbed the​ concentration.
Deer jaws  found along the side of a house basin.

Deer jaw offering.

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