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The US’ 2,000-year-old mystery mounds – BBC

May 2018

Press release from Department of the Interior (May 2018)

WASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior today announced the selection of the “Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks” in Ohio—a group of ancient American Indian sites including both Hopewell Culture National Historical Park and related properties owned by the State of Ohio/Ohio History Connection—as a proposed nomination by the United States to the World Heritage List.

The list recognizes cultural and natural sites of universal importance such as the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the Taj Mahal in India, and the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador. There are 1,073 sites in 167 of the 193 countries that have signed the World Heritage Convention—including 23 World Heritage Sites in the United States.

The “Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks” properties include:

  • Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, including the Mound City Group, Hopewell Mound Group, Seip Earthworks, High Bank Earthworks, and Hopeton Earthworks (Ross County)
  • Newark Earthworks State Memorial, including the Octagon Earthworks, Great Circle Earthworks, and Wright Earthworks (Licking County)
  • Fort Ancient State Memorial (Warren County)

During the Middle Woodland period (1,500 – 2,100 years ago) the Hopewell people built enormous, landscape-scale geometric earthworks over a large area of what is now southern Ohio, in an extraordinary expression of cooperative cultural activity. This area was the nexus of interaction with people as far away as the Yellowstone basin and Florida. The earthwork complexes incorporate precise geometry, with circles, squares, octagons and freeform enclosures intricately related by precise and standard units of measure. These are among the largest earthworks in the world that are not fortifications or defensive structures. They also demonstrate sophisticated astronomical observation, and contain extensive deposits of artifacts that are among the most outstanding art objects produced in ancient North America.

The Department of the Interior is undertaking this effort with full cooperation of each property’s owners and managers, including the National Park Service, the State of Ohio, and the Ohio History Connection, the state’s nonprofit history partner.

The final decision on inclusion on the list will be made by the World Heritage Committee, composed of representatives from 21 nations elected from the members of the World Heritage Convention, and advised by the International Council on Monuments and Sites. The date of the actual submission of a nomination will depend on when the detailed documentation package is completed. The Department of the Interior will consult with the Federal Interagency Panel for World Heritage on the completed document before making a final decision to submit it to the World Heritage Committee.

The National Park Service manages all or part of 18 of the 23 World Heritage Sites in the United States. It is also the principal government agency responsible for implementing the World Heritage Convention on behalf of the Department of the Interior and in cooperation with the Department of State.

Inclusion of a site in the World Heritage List does not affect U.S. sovereignty or management over the sites, which remain subject only to U.S. law. Detailed information on the World Heritage Program and the process for the selection of U.S. sites can be found at

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November 7, 2011

Newark Earthworks


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