September 19, 202321 countries on the UNESCO World Heritage Committee issued their decision to inscribe Ohio’s Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks as the United States’ 25th addition to the World Heritage List.
The Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, which include five locations managed by the National Park Service and three managed by the Ohio History Connection, were built by Native Americans between 1,600 and 2,000 years ago. They are complex masterpieces of landscape architecture and are exceptional among ancient monuments worldwide in their enormous scale, geometric precision and astronomical alignments.
Collectively, these special and sacred places constitute Ohio’s first World Heritage Site.
“Inscription on the World Heritage List will call international attention to these treasures long known to Ohioans,” said Megan Wood, Executive Director and CEO of the Ohio History Connection.
World Heritage inscription brings recognition to places of exceptional interest and value. There are only about 1,000 World Heritage sites around the globe. The eight Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks sites are in Licking, Ross and Warren counties. The National Park Service’s Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Chillicothe includes the Mound City Group, Hopewell Mound Group, Seip Earthworks, High Bank Works and Hopeton Earthworks. The Ohio History Connection’s Great Circle Earthworks and Octagon Earthworks are in Heath and Newark, respectively, and Fort Ancient Earthworks & Nature Preserve is in the Warren County city of Oregonia.
“Fort Ancient has always been a popular stop both for locals and visitors alike here in Warren County, but it has also long deserved an even larger, more significant spotlight,” Director of Marketing & Communications for the Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau (WCCVB), Scott Hutchinson said. “It’s an incredible place with an amazing story to tell, and we’re thrilled that through this World Heritage inscription we’ll now get a chance to share that story with an even wider audience.”
The Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks were nominated to the UNESCO World Heritage List in January 2022 by the U.S. Department of the Interior, but the process to get to that point has been over a decade in the making.
For more information about the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks and upcoming commemoration activities, go to hopewellearthworks.org.