Ohio’s Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks

Ohio’s Only UNESCO World Heritage Site 

The Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks are Ohio’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. It comprises eight of Ohio’s ancient American Indian monuments.

Ohio’s Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks are only the 25th World Heritage Site in the United States. Only three other UNESCO World Heritage Sites are multi-part sites like the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks. These sites encompass several locations, such as the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings. UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Its class of sites features places like Machu Picchu and Pyramids of Giza.

The Ohio Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks sites listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site are:

  • Mound City in Chillicothe, Ohio
  • Great Circle Earthworks in Newark, Ohio
  • Fort Ancient Earthworks in Oregonia, Ohio
  • Seip Earthworks in Bainbridge, Ohio
  • Hopewell Mound Group in Chillicothe, Ohio
  • Hopeton Earthworks in Chillicothe, Ohio
  • Octagonal Earthworks in Newark, Ohio
  • High Bank Works in Chillicothe, Ohio

These ancient Native American earthworks in Central and Southwest Ohio were constructed nearly 2,000 years ago. They are manmade architectural marvels astounding in their precise alignment to the stars above, used to understand time and employ a masterful understanding of geometry and science.

It is a mystery how simple and small tribes of hunter-gatherers forged mind-blowing earthen structures both grand in size and style. They were used to measure the cycles of the sun, moon, and more.

Mound City

Mound City is at Hopewell Culture National Historic Park
in Chillicothe, Ohio. It is part of the Ohio Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is made up of 24 mounds. The Mound City Group Visitors Center and the museum tell a remarkable story with rare artifacts and interactive exhibits. Outside is a well-preserved and maintained grassland framed by mature trees with very clear and large ancient mounds, allowing visitors close examination. Map It.
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Great Circle Earthworks   

Great Circle Earthworks in Newark, Ohio, is a part of the Ohio Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks UNESCO World Heritage Site. Together, they were the greatest geometrical earthworks in the world. The magnificence of the Great Circle Earthworks is felt today when one enters the Great Circle through a break in the 14-foot-high earthen wall and a land bridge over the trench that follows the circle of raised earth. Now, in hallowed grounds, ceremonial mounds remain at its center. There is also a nice little museum at the Great Circle Earthworks visitors center with helpful staff to answer questions. There, models show the immense complexities and purpose of these ancient wonders. Map It.
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Fort Ancient Earthworks

Fort Ancient Earthworks in Oregonia, Ohio, is part of the Ohio Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks UNESCO World Heritage Site. It features a robust museum with plentiful artifacts and interactive exhibits that tell a thorough story of these earthworks that resemble earthen fort walls, thus its modern name. Great hiking trails allow visitors to traverse the earthworks perimeter and beyond. Map It.
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Seip Earthworks

Seip Earthworks in Bainbridge, Ohio, is part of the Ohio Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks UNESCO World Heritage Site. This site features a large ancient mound set against an Appalachian Ohio backdrop on huge parklike grounds with abundant green space. Map It.
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Hopewell Mound Group

Hopewell Mound Group in Chillicothe, Ohio, is part of the Ohio Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 130-acre site is part of the Hopewell Culture National Historic Park. These earthworks are open during daylight hours. Map It.

Hopeton Earthworks

Hopeton Earthworks in Chillicothe, Ohio, is part of the Ohio Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although its earthen walls have receded with time and man’s interference, they are still visible. To enhance the experience and see better what was once more prominent, it is mowed to highlight its design and has signage to explain further. Map It.

Octagonal Earthworks

Octagonal Earthworks in Newark, Ohio, is a part of the Ohio Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unfortunately, the Octagonal Earthworks have been incorporated into a golf course. Still, an observational deck is available next to a country club parking lot to see parts of the 50-acre octagon from a slightly elevated perch. Map It.

High Bank Works

High Bank Works in Chillicothe, Ohio, is part of the Ohio Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks UNESCO World Heritage Site. A special permit is required to access the High Banks Works unless it’s a ranger-held event. It is primarily a research preserve.

Although the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks are Ohio’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, many other effigy mounds are worth visiting. Ohio has incredible ancient earthworks built by prehistoric Native Americans. Perhaps the most well-known in the world is Serpent Mound in Peebles, Ohio. Include it and others, and you will have mounds of fun.” 

For more information, visit http://worldheritageohio.org/.

By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun!

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