A network of ancient Native American ceremonial and burial mounds in Ohio described as “part cathedral, part cemetery, and part astronomical observatory” was added Tuesday to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites.
The network of sites includes Fort Ancient State Memorial in Oregonia in Warren County.
Conservationists, led by the Ohio History Connection, and native tribes, many of whom had ancestral ties to the state, pushed for recognition of the Hopewell ceremonial earthworks for their good condition, distinct style and their cultural significance – describing them as “masterpieces of human genius”.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee approved the nomination at a meeting in Saudi Arabia. The massive earthworks join a list of famous sites including the Greek Acropolis, Machu Picchu in Peru and the Great Wall of China.
Built by American Indians between 2,000 and 1,600 years ago along the central tributaries of the Ohio River, the earthworks hosted ceremonies that drew people from across the continent, based on archaeological findings of raw materials from as far away as the Rocky Mountains.
Elaborate ceremonial linked to “the order and rhythms of the cosmos” is evident in the “beautiful ritual objects, spectacular offerings of religious icons and regalia” found at the sites, the application states. He said the mounds were “part cathedral, part cemetery, and part astronomical observatory.”
The eight sites comprising the earthworks are spread across 90 miles of what is now southern Ohio. They are remarkable for their enormous scale, geometric precision, and astronomical scale and precision, such as coding the eight lunar stops on an 18.6 year cycle.
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said listing the earthworks as a heritage site “will make this important part of American history known around the world.”
“Just three months after joining UNESCO, the United States inscribed its twenty-fifth site on the World Heritage List, illustrating the richness and diversity of the country’s cultural and natural heritage,” he said. she declared.
This inscription on the World Heritage List highlights the important work of American archaeologists, who discovered remains here dating back 2000 years, constituting one of the largest earthworks in the world.
Among the tribes that supported the UNESCO designation were the National Congress of American Indians, the Inter-Tribal Council Representing Tribes Living in Northeastern Oklahoma, and the Seneca Nation of New State York.
The application was slowed down by a long legal battle to restore public access to part of the land that had been leased to Moundbuilders Country Club for a golf course. An Ohio Supreme Court ruling in December allowed the Ohio History Connection, the state’s historical society, to continue its effort to take control of Octagon Earthworks, part of the Newark Earthworks complex.
Earthworks in Warren County currently underway part of a state parkis the largest perched enclosure in North America.
Situated above the Little Miami River, much of the space is surrounded by earth embankments constructed from one basket full of dirt at a time, according to Ohio History Connection. Some embankments reach heights of 23 feet.
“Native Americans and archaeologists today believe that Fort Ancient more likely served as a community gathering place for ceremonies and more,” the Ohio Connection website states. “The space most likely hosted ancient American Indians from across the continent, as evidenced by ceremonial objects finely crafted from materials from far away, such as silver from Canada or obsidian from Wyoming. “
Other sites included in the new designation are Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, Mound City Group, Hopewell Mound Group, Seip Earthworks, High Bank Earthworks and Hopeton Earthworks.
The Enquirer contributed.