We at World Heritage Ohio congratulate those who have been working toward the UNESCO World Heritage nomination of several buildings designed by the renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
The US’s nomination of these buildings was announced in late January and includes 10 Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in seven states, ranging from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City to the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, California. The nomination packed is entitled “Key Works of Modern Architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright.”
This nomination is for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which comprises significant sites of “outstanding universal value” around the world. The US selects sites to nominate for the UNESCO World Heritage List from the US Tentative List. Now, the International Council on Monuments and Cites (ICOMOS) will evaluate the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings’ “outstanding universal value” and decide whether to recommend it for at the annual meeting of the World Heritage Committee in 2016, which makes the final decision.
At this point, Ohio’s Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks are on the US Tentative List and are undergoing a requisite evaluation process administered by the US National Park Service’s Office of International Affairs.
“Through its World Heritage Sites the United States can share with the world the remarkable diversity of our cultural heritage as well as the beauty of our land,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said in a press release. “Frank Lloyd Wright is widely considered to be the greatest American architect of the 20th century and his works are a highly valued and uniquely American contribution to the world’s architectural heritage.”
The Key Works of Modern Architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright would be the first modern architecture site in the US on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The most recent successful US World Heritage site is the Poverty Point State Historic Site in Louisiana, which was added in 2014.
One of the amazing aspects of Ohio’s Middle Woodland peoples, who lived here 2,000 years ago, is that the archaeological record indicates their cultural practices could be found throughout middle and eastern North America.
In particular, these commonalities can be found at ceremonial and mortuary sites, and the broad geographical range that includes remains of these practices is referred to as the Hopewell Interaction Sphere, reaching from the East Coast to the Gulf of Mexico to as far west as the Rocky Mountains.
Ohio History Connection archaeologist Brad Lepper blogged last week about a recent discovery at the Garden Creek site in North Carolina. Archaeologists Alice Wright and Erika Loveland discovered the remains of a rectangular earthwork enclosure and craft workshop, much like those we see in the Ohio River Valley. The presence of a Hopewell-style earthwork there suggests the Hopewell Interaction Sphere included North Carolina.
Lepper says he believes that the Hopewell Interaction Sphere comprised a “network of pilgrimage centers,” including the World Heritage Ohio sites Newark Earthworks and Mound City, which attracted people from around North America. These ceremonial centers have been compared to Mecca or Jerusalem. These people would bring gifts of exotic materials like mica, copper, obsidian and shells, like a large community social, and then they could have returned to their home communities full of religious inspiration.
For more information about the Hopewell Interaction Sphere or Wright and Loveland’s discoveries, see Lepper’s blog post on the Ohio History Connection Archaeology Blog.
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.
CNN recently sat down with Gary Arndt, who has made a name for himself in the blogosphere by visiting nearly 300 UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the world in the past eight years. These sites span seven continents and more than 170 countries and territories. Ultimately, the man known as “Mr. UNESCO” foresees visiting at least half of all 1,007 sites.
In the CNN article, he explains that he appreciates little-known sites and suggests that new UNESCO World Heritage Sites should be selected by prioritizing “those most deserving or in need of protection.”
Arndt catalogues his adventures through the travel blog everything-everywhere.com, where he posts photos of each site he visits and a brief description of his thoughts.
In 2009, he visited Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site near St. Louis. At its height between about A.D. 1050-1200, the culture of this city-state (known as “Mississippian”) extended its influence throughout the Midwest and beyond. Archaeologists think Cahokia and its associated sites represented a “hierarchical or ranked society and complex social and political system,” according to the Cahokia Mounds website. Early accounts from Spanish and French explorers in the 16th century described complex societies in this area as well, indicating that the Mississippian way of life continued long after its heyday.
The city of Cahokia included a large number of various kinds of structures, including homes and public works including ceremonial “woodhenges,” across its nearly 4,000 acres. Today, however, through the combination of erosion, plowing and the construction of modern roads and houses, what remains todayare 120 earthworks, those long-lasting monuments of deliberate size and shape, crafted by hand over generations.
When Arndt visited, he recognized the historical value of Cahokia but seemed frustrated that “there is very little to see other than some dirt hills.”
Mr. UNESCO, now that you’re back in the U.S. for a tour of sites in the southeast, we recommend you stop by Ohio to see our future UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
They might be dirt hills, but the geometric patterns and alignments of these earthworks cause us to marvel even today. They were constructed by the peoples of the Middle Woodland period – known commonly as “Hopewell” – a culture that, like the Mississippian but centuries earlier, had a far-reaching influence. In these earthworks, we find artifacts made of materials that originated as far away as Yellowstone National Park and the Gulf of Mexico.
Earthworks are more than just dirt hills. They represent the combined genius of generations of peoples who built outward, not upward, in celebration of their leaders and their religions. To better appreciate them, look at the labor involved, the distances traveled, and the skills necessary to organize and unite so many people from the far reaches of their world.
The Newark Earthworks, the Fort Ancient Hilltop Enclosure, Mound City, Hopewell Mound Group, Seip Earthworks, Hopeton Earthworks, and High Bank Earthworks are worth the visit – individually or as a group. Serpent Mound, too, of a slightly different era, provides a welcome introduction to the marvels that can be made with earth.