We want to share important information related to our efforts to add the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks in Licking County, Ross County and Warren County to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List. As you may have heard, the State Department has confirmed that the U.S. plans to withdraw from UNESCO on December 31, 2018.
That said, we are optimistic that our work to add the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks to the World Heritage List will not be impacted. Earlier today the Department of the Interior indicated that the U.S. will still participate in World Heritage. There is precedent for this: during the Reagan Administration, the U.S. withdrew its UNESCO membership but still participated in the World Heritage Committee. During the next 19 years (1984-2002) when the U.S. remained a non-member, a substantial number of U.S. sites were inscribed.
For over a decade we have worked to recognize these unquestionably worthy Ohio American Indian earthworks on the World Heritage List. American Indian Tribal Nations and national and international cultural heritage experts consistently affirm the global cultural significance of these sites. We remain optimistic that the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks will be the next U.S. World Heritage nomination. Our work continues toward bringing this prestigious recognition to Ohio.
On February 23rd, Senator Jay Hottinger of Newark introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 16 expressing the Ohio General Assembly’s support of the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks nomination. Sen. Bob Peterson, whose district includes Ross County, is a co-sponsor. The Resolution has been assigned to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on which Sen. Hottinger serves. Please note that Sen. Shannon Jones who represents Fort Ancient is also on the Committee. Extra special thanks to Bill Weaver and Dick Shiels for encouraging Sen. Hottinger to take this up. We’ll be actively advocating for SCR 16 this Tuesday at the annual Statehood Day event.
Meanwhile, State Rep. Gary Scherer (R-Circleville) plans to introduce a concurrent resolution in the House sometime soon.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 16 can be read here.
The moon follows an 18.6 year cycle. The Newark Octagon, built two thousand years ago by ancestors of today’s American Indians, aligns with eight “standstill points” in the cycle of the moon.
Those who built the Octagon understood that every month the place on the horizon where the moon first rises moves south for roughly 14 nights and then returns again. Further, the distance it moves between the first and 14th night grows greater every month for 9.3 years and then shrinks again until it is the same distance it had been at the beginning.
These ancient Indians identified four times over 18.6 years when the rising moon seemed to stop going in one direction and began going in the other: the northernmost rising of the moon and the southern-most, the northernleast and the southern least. They also observed another four times when the setting moon did the same: the northernmost and southernmost moonset, the northern least and southern least moonset.
Get ready. It’s the moon again. The moon is doing what it has always done, and the Newark Earthworks are doing what their builders intended 2,000 years ago.
The Newark Octagon, built by ancestors of today’s American Indians, aligns with the 18.6 year cycle of the moon. The entire figure (an octagon with two parallel walls that connect it to a circle) points to the northernmost rising of the moon.
I saw the moon rise in alignment with the central axis of the octagon several times in 2005 and 2006, and so did several hundred of us. There is only one northernmost moonrise every 18.6 years, but there are several times when it is very close.
Clearly, the creators of the Newark Earthworks understood the lunar cycle. They must have considered the northernmost rising to be a very important event. It must have been important to be there when the moon was in just the right place.
Archaeologists believe it is likely that people came from great distances for those occasions. We can imagine important events: ceremonies and/or games, reunions, celebrations of life and death, family and community.
The alignment of these earthen walls with the northernmost rising of the moon was very likely known to many people two millennia ago. At some point it may have been forgotten, however, or at least it was no longer widely known.
Two Earlham College professors, Ray Hively and Robert Horn, rediscovered it about 1980. Brad Lepper, an archaeologist at the Ohio History Connection, and a group of us associated with the Ohio State University at Newark (Marti Chaatsmith, Jeff Gill, Lucy Murphy and others) have been teaching about this phenomenon for the past twenty years.
In 2005 and 2006, several hundred of us witnessed the northernmost moonrise at the octagon, including former Gov. Bob Taft and his wife, Hope. Quite literally, heaven and earth were aligned.
We do not have to wait to 2023 for the next alignment.
The northernmost rising of the moon is only one of eight “standstill points” in the 18.6 lunar cycle. Ancient people knew that every month the moonrise moves south for roughly 14 nights and then returns again. Further, the distance it moves between the first and 14th night grows greater every month for 9.3 years and then shrinks again until it is once again what it had been at the beginning. Ancient people could identify not only the northernmost moonrise but also the southernmost, the northern minimum and the southern minimum.
Further, they identified another four “standstill points” when they observed the moonsets: the northern and southernmost, the northern and southern minimum. The octagon built 2000 years ago in what is today Newark and the octagon built in Chillicothe about the same time both align with all eight of these lunar standstills.
This fall, the moon is at roughly the halfway point of the 18.6 year cycle. The northern and southern maximum alignments occurred at the beginning of the cycle, in 2005 and 2006. The minimums are occurring this fall.
The Ohio History Connection and Ohio State’s Newark Earthworks Center are partnering once again to teach the public about these amazing earthworks and the brilliance of the ancient ancestors of American Indians who built them.
We invite you to the Octagon Open House on the afternoon of Oct. 11, when we will provide information and guided tours about the alignments that will occur over the next two months. We will provide tours and a variety of family activities from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for free.
Note: This article was originally posted on the Newark Advocate’s website here.
COSHOCTON — Ohio is home to the most spectacular concentration of ancient earthworks in the world. They are so complex and extensive that they have been nominated for World Heritage Status with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
The United States already has 21 sites (the Grand Canyon, the California Redwoods, Yellowstone National Park …), and we may become a neighbor to the 22nd.
Saturday, July 25 at 3 p.m., the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum hosted Bruce Lombardo, National Park Service Interpretive Ranger at the Hopewell Culture National Historic Park, to discuss the uniqueness of the Ohio Hopewell Earthworks.
For one, these marvelous Native American ceremonial complexes are immense and geometrical, with surprisingly precise dimensions and astronomical alignments. Who built them? How and why were they constructed? These questions are among the many mysteries left behind by the ancient people we refer to as the Hopewell Culture.
Nine archeological sites of monumental earthworks constructed by the Ohio Hopewell culture during the Woodland Period (1-1000 CE) are included in the nomination. That the earthworks were recently nominated for World Heritage Status with UNESCO is proof of their global significance. They are located within three archaeological preserves in the south-central portion of the State.
The sites are not just random structures but ceremonial centers characterized by a variety of large earthwork constructions that feature precise geometric shapes and standard units of measure. Also significant is the fact that the mounds contain extensive ritual deposits of finely crafted artifacts. If the nomination is successful, it could mean a significant increase in tourism to Ohio including Coshocton County.
Bruce Lombardo has been a regional naturalist for Ohio State Parks and a National Park Service Interpretive Ranger off and on the past thirty years. He is founding director of the Heartland Earthworks Conservancy from 2010 to the present and Interpretive Ranger at the Hopewell Culture national Historical Park since 2008. Bruce is a popular speaker throughout Ohio.
The Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum is open daily from noon to 5 p.m. Admission prices are adults, $4; students, $3; and families (two adults with children under 18), $11. The Ohio Hopewell Earthworks presentation is free with admission.
The Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum is located in Historic Roscoe Village, a restored canal-era town sited along the former Ohio & Erie Canal, at 300 N. Whitewoman St.
For more information contact the museum at 740-622-8710 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: This article was originally posted on the Times Reporter’s website here.
The World Heritage Ohio Steering Committee met for its quarterly meeting on April 25, 2015 to discuss progress on Ohio’s three World Heritage nominations, specifically its Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks nomination.
The committee celebrated a successful visit by George Papagiannis of UNESCO, who visited Cleveland and Columbus in mid-April.
However, Papagiannis alerted the committee to a resolution that will be considered by UNESCO this summer. If approved, UNESCO would set a quota of 25 nominations to be considered in any year and require that nominations from nations that are not paying dues be moved to the end of the list of those being considered. We have been reassured, though, that this might not be approved.
Dean Alexander, Superintendent of the NPS’s Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, reported on a recent meeting with personnel at American Electric Power (AEP), during which they worked on a solution for the power lines at Hopewell Cultural Park in Chillicothe. These power lines impact the viewscape at the park – a problem that falls under both the integrity and authenticity of the site and our nomination’s protection and management measures. They discussed three possible solutions: moving the power lines off the property, moving them to the edge of the property, or burying them. WHO will consult with ICOMOS as to which plan is most appropriate for our nomination.
George Kane, Director of Facilities for the Ohio History Connection, is working with the Moundbuilders’ Country Club in Newark on a similar issue. The country club and its golf course occupy the space of the Newark Earthworks.
Steering Committee members reported that the Management and Interpretive Plans for the eight sites of the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks are moving closer to completion, and Serpent Mound’s is already finished. This document is required as part of the ICOMOS advisory process, after which a nomination may be pushed forward to the World Heritage Committee for final consideration.
Drafts of the Foundation Document for Hopewell Culture Park, as well as its Cultural Landscape Plan, its Environmental Assessments, and its Visitor Experience plan will be available to the public this fall.
Kathy Wyatt of the Friends of the Ancient Ohio Earthworks reported that about $2000 in donations was received at the Friends group’s fundraising event in Cleveland during Papagiannis’ visit.
Nearly twenty World Heritage Ohio Steering Committee members met on January 23 for their quarterly meeting between stakeholder organizations in this process. During these meetings, members discuss completed tasks and future projects that move Ohio’s future World Heritage sites closer toward inclusion on UNESCO’s list.
Five members reflected on their trip to Washington D.C. in December. During this time, they met with congressional staff to resolve the problem of the U.S. not paying membership dues to UNESCO, which could adversely affect the chances of Ohio’s sites for nomination. The goal is to push for a limited waiver that would allow the U.S. to pay a portion (est. $700,000 annually) of the dues to UNESCO, specifically designated for the work of the World Heritage Committee.
While they were in Washington, these members also consulted with George Papagiannis of UNESCO and Suzanne Dixon from the National Parks Conservation Association, both of whom have been helping with the Steering Committee’s efforts. The five members also attended the annual ICOMOS Gala.
Representatives from the Newark Earthworks Center at The Ohio State University submitted a proposal to the committee to bring American Indians to the earthworks sites and to solicit their participation in the process. They encouraged the Fort Ancient State Memorial and the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park to do the same.
George Kane of the Ohio History Connection reported that a site management plan for Serpent Mound is in development, informed by a stakeholder meeting and future consultation with Native American tribes in Oklahoma. The goal is to have the plan approved by the Ohio History Connection’s board in June.
Friends of Ancient Ohio Earthworks will host a fundraising event at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History on April 14.
The Steering Committee’s next meeting is set for April 24.