So editorialized one of Ohio’s largest newspapers today. The Columbus Dispatch was editorializing not about crimes against heritage in distant lands but about the need to give stronger protection to Ohio’s Native American sites and artifacts.
The Columbus Dispatch is right to shine a light on the topic. Ohio possesses a deeply significant collection of pre-Contact mound earthworks. Indeed, not one but two sets of Ohio mounds have been identified by the US Government as candidates for future nomination to the UNESCO World Heritage List, a distinction unprecedented in the United States that speaks to the universal significance of these landscapes.
One of the two US World Heritage Tentative Lists entries is a serial nomination of nine archeological sites of monumental earthworks constructed by the Ohio Hopewell culture during the Woodland Period (1-1000 CE). Known as the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, these ceremonial centers at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, Mound City, Hopeton, Newark and elsewhere feature precise geometric shapes and standard units of measure. The mounds contain extensive ritual deposits of finely crafted artifacts as well as markers of complex astronomical alignments related to ceremonies.
The iconic Serpent Mound, in Adams County, is the largest documented surviving example of a prehistoric effigy mound in the world. Radiocarbon and other techniques indicate Serpent Mound was built by the Fort Ancient Culture about the year 1120 CE.
US/ICOMOS applauds the multifaceted efforts currently underway in Ohio to interpret, protect and safeguard these sites, which often include Native American burials as well, not only for Ohioans and for the Tribes and peoples that hold them sacred but we hope for humankind through the World Heritage program.
Special thanks to Dr. Bret Ruby for bringing the Dispatch article to our attention.