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July 25, 2015 meeting on WHO Hopewell Earthworks

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 jhmuseum@jhmuseum.org.

Note: This article was originally posted on the Times Reporter’s website here.

Executive committee aims for 2017 nomination

On Friday, March 6, members of the World Heritage Ohio Executive Committee met to discuss developments in the nomination process for the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks and Serpent Mound.

The meeting included representatives from the Ohio History Connection, the University of Cincinnati’s CERHAS, the US National Park Service, and the Newark Earthworks Center at the Ohio State University.

John Hancock of CERHAS explained that he has begun working on a timeline for the remainder of the work for the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks nomination to the UNESCO World Heritage List, using 2017 as the target for completion.

Additional stages in the nomination process include implementing recommendations made by the US National Park Service’s Office of International Affairs in terms of the preservation of the sites. For example, Dean Alexander, Superintendent of the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, and George Kane, Director of Facilities for the Ohio History Connection, are working with the State Historic Preservation Office to remove a power line over the Hopewell Mound Group that interferes with the authenticity and preservation of the site.

Representatives from the Ohio History Connection are meeting with tribes in Oklahoma this month to discuss a plan for Serpent Mound’s nomination, which will be further developed in the near future.

The Friends of the Ancient Ohio Earthworks group is organizing a fundraiser for the Cleveland area to be held on April 14 as a way to reach out to the northern parts of the state.

Steering Committee reflects on advocacy efforts

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.