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Ancient Sites in Ohio Win UNESCO Heritage Status

Built between 2,000 and 1,600 years ago, the eight related sites contain “complex masterpieces of landscape architecture and are exceptional among ancient monuments worldwide in their enormous scale, geometric precision, and astronomical alignments.”

Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks' Mound City
'Mound City' - one of the eight sites | Credit: Hopewell Culture NHP | US National Park Service

The Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks recently became the 25th property from the United States to achieve a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List - a global collection of locations that tell an important part of the story of humanity.

“The huge squares, circles, and octagons, which are geometrically precise and align perfectly with the cycles of the sun and moon, were built by dispersed communities of American Indians who periodically gathered at these special places to worship and stay connected to one another,” explains the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks’ official website. Adding: "Masterpieces of human creative genius, the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks are gigantic earthen enclosures built by American Indians 2,000 years ago. They were places of ceremony connected to the cosmos by alignments to key risings and settings of the moon and sun."

The website also points out: "Artifacts found at these sites are made from unusual raw materials such as mica from Appalachia, seashells from the Gulf of Mexico, and obsidian from the Rocky Mountains. This shows that people traveled here from the ends of the Hopewell world bringing with them rare and precious gifts. The immense effort this would have required further solidifies these earthworks as centers of human ingenuity."

Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks now proudly sits alongside Stonehenge, the Lascaux cave paintings, and Olmec sites that have revealed the most about ancient organized societies.

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