History

Why is this site important?

Already a National Historic Landmark, in 2006, the State of Ohio designated the Newark Earthworks as "the official prehistoric monument of the state." The state was prompted to do so by students in the 4th grade class at William E. Miller Elementary School in Newark who had been studying the earthworks. Students worked with their teachers Mary Borgia and Linda Woolard and with Sen. Jay Hottinger to craft the bill and traveled to the State House to give testimony on the worthiness of the Newark earthworks. Members of the State Senate and House of Congress accepted the students’ proposal. The designation of the Newark Earthworks as Ohio's state prehistoric monument honors the ancient American Indian builders of this site and the early residents of Newark who found ways to include the earthworks in their new settlement without destroying them completely.

The Newark Earthworks are the largest set of geometric earthen enclosures in the world. In The Seventy Wonders of the Ancient World (1999), Cambridge University archeologist, Chris Scarre named the Newark Earthworks as one of only three North American sites that qualified as an ancient wonder. (The others are Chaco Canyon in New Mexico and Cahokia in Illinois.) Compared with other ancient wonders, the Newark earthworks are colossal. 

 “The Newark earthworks were built on a scale that dwarfs many of the Old World’s most famous sites. The Great Pyramid of Egypt would fit comfortably within the square enclosure at Newark. The Octagon would hold four Roman Colosseums, and Stonehenge would fit within the small circular enclosure located at the Octagon’s southeastern gateway.”
                                                                         --Bradley Lepper, Ohio Historical Society Archaeologist 

Ohio Earthworks Nominated for World Heritage Status

The significance of ancient Ohio earthworks has garnered Ohio international attention. In 2008, eight Ohio earthworks were selected by the United States Department of the Interior for inclusion on the United States’ Tentative List of sites to be submitted to United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for inscription on the prestigious World Heritage List. One nomination was for Serpent Mound in Adams County, constructed by the Fort Ancient culture. The other nomination was of Hopewell Ceremonial Sites: the Newark Earthworks in Licking County, Fort Ancient in Warren County, and the five earthworks included in Hopewell Cultural National Historical Park in Ross County: Mound City, Hopeton Earthworks, Hopewell Mound Group, Seip Earthworks, and High Bank Works. If it is eventually inscribed on the World Heritage List, Ohio’s earthworks will join the ranks of the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Galápagos Islands in Ecuador, the Taj Mahal in India—all of which are World Heritage sites. World Heritage status has the potential to elevate local and international awareness about the site's value, further encourage communities to protect and invest in their preservation, and increase potentially beneficial tourism to the site. [http://whc.unesco.org/en/faq]