Tuesday, October 28, 2014

World Heritage Ohio

World Heritage Ohio

"Several sites in Ohio are poised to join the extremely prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List, with more than 1000 other properties around the globe, including the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Wall of China, Australia's Great Barrier Reef, and Stonehenge. World Heritage inscription is based on stringent criteria and signifies outstanding universal value to humanity. Making the list helps ensure a site's permanent preservation, enhanced understanding, deeper appreciation, and increased tourism... Three nominations in Ohio are among 13 currently on the "US Tentative List" from which nominees will be drawn to go forward for inscription in the coming years."


Reconstruction of the Newark Earthworks. Image Courtesy of the Ancient Ohio Trail.
Reconstruction of the Newark Earthworks.
Image Courtesy of the Ancient Ohio Trail.
"The Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks share certain characteristics with other monumental sites built substantially from earth, such as Poverty Point, Cahokia Mounds, Effigy Mounds National Monument, Amazonian geoglyphs, Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated sites, but they are unique in their combination of vast scale, geometrical precision, incorporation of astronomical alignments, and broad geographic distribution. To have accomplished this with a predominantly hunting and gathering economy only supplemented by a suite of locally domesticated plants and with a fundamentally egalitarian society is unprecedented in world history.

The repetition of monumental earthwork forms across a large area, built to a similar scale, using a common unit of measure, and incorporating a similar series of astronomical alignments into that architecture, demonstrates a level of integration between otherwise disparate cultural groups that is unexpected and unprecedented for societies without more complex social organizations. This cultural integration was reinforced by an interregional network of raw material acquisition and craft production emphasizing a shared iconography. These earthworks, as a set, bear witness to a remarkable non-urban, non-hierarchical civilization that persisted for three to four centuries and exerted an influence that extended across much of eastern North America.

These Ancient Ohio monuments are the largest earthworks in the world that are not fortifications or defensive structures. Together these earthwork sites present the climax of the Woodland Period cultures of North America. Their extraordinary size, beauty, and precision make them outstanding examples of architectural form, landscape design, and human creative genius, worthy of inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List."

"Serpent Mound, in Adams County, is the largest documented surviving example of a prehistoric effigy mound in the world.   It is a sinuous earthen embankment 411 meters long, including an oval embankment at one end, which has been interpreted variously as the serpent's eye, part of its head, or a secondary object, such as an egg, grasped in the serpent's open jaws.  The effigy ranges from 1.2 to 1.5 meters  in height and from 6 to 7.6 meters in width.  Radiocarbon dates obtained from samples from the effigy, combined with stylistic analyses of the iconography, indicate Serpent Mound was built by the Fort Ancient Culture about the year 1120 CE.  This state memorial also preserves three Native American burial mounds as well as evidence of contemporary habitation sites. "

How it Works

What We've Done So Far
  • 2014 "The Steering Committee is currently at work on the next major component of the nomination, documents about the future on-going management of the sites – both individual site Management Plans, and a coordinated approach to the broader planning and development issues in the local communities that ICOMOS and UNESCO will expect to see, and that will be impacted by the anticipated increased tourist visitation at the sites."
  • 2013 Draft of Outstanding Universal Value, Draft of Comparative Analysis, Draft of Authenticity and Integrity, Experts Workshop
  • 2012 Steering Committee Formation
  • 2011 Conference Tour
  • 2009 Inclusion on the US Tentative List (2008) focused efforts to advance either the Serpent Mound or the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks nomination...

Benefits and Impact

  • Increased Tourism
  • Increased Awareness
  • Control and Sovereignty

Friends of Ancient Ohio Earthworks


  • Summary of the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination Process
  • What is Outstanding Universal Value (OUV)?
  • World Heritage Nomination Documents, Operational Guidelines
  • Manual of Site Management Plans
  • Tourism Guidelines for addressing the likely impacts

For more information, 
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