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. It is also the 25th site in the United States on the World Heritage List.
“Today’s inscription of Ohio’s Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks as a UNESCO World Heritage Designation will ensure that the earthworks created by American Indian Tribes over 2,000 years ago will get international attention, drawing even more visitors to see these amazing places,” said Gov. Mike DeWine. “I encourage Ohioans and people from across the globe to visit these eight sites to experience the awe-inspiring earthworks that are such a special part of Ohio’s history.”
Megan Wood, executive director and CEO of the Ohio History Connection, said the sites are complex masterpieces of landscape architecture and are exceptional among ancient monuments worldwide in their enormous scale, geometric precision, and astronomical alignments.
“Upon hearing that eight mounds in Ohio built by our Native American ancestors some 2,000 years ago have now been officially designated World Heritage sites, my immediate reaction was pure excitement and exhilaration,” said Chief Glenna Wallace of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. “Tears came to my eyes, and exhilaration turned into reflection, knowing that the world will now see and recognize the commitment, spirituality, imaginative artistry and knowledge of complex architecture to produce magnificent earthworks. Our ancestors were true geniuses.”
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 Warren County near Oregonia.
Scott Hutchinson, director of marketing and communications for the Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau, expects Fort Ancient will enjoy increased visitation in the wake of the World Heritage inscription.
“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,” 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.
The National Park Service and the Ohio History Connection are planning multiple events in October that are free and open to the public to commemorate the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks being inscribed as Ohio’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
HOW TO GO
For more information about the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks and upcoming commemoration activities, go to hopewellearthworks.org.
For more information on Fort Ancient, visit OhioHistory.org or the WCCVB’s website, OhiosLargestPlayground.com.