Friday, October 22, 2010


The Newark Earthworks are the reason we went to central Ohio, and we weren’t disappointed. If you’re like me, you don’t know much about this massive archaeological site. Heck, I even took archaeology, Native American, and U. S. history courses in college. Although I read something brief about the ancient “Mound Builders” in America, I had never read about the Newark Earthworks! And it’s such a major thing! Go figure.

Last summer I learned that the site and that it has been nominated for World Heritage status. When I was told that little-to-nothing had been written about the site in magazines, Rick and I thought it would be worth making the trip to check it out personally. The museum’s director and head of the CVB also mentioned that they needed a book written about the Earthworks. Too tempting…we had to go!!!

So, the museum director set me up with Dr. Dick Shiels, the official historian for the site, who gave us a guided tour of the massive site. Newark Earthworks spreads for more than 4 acres of what looks more like a park than an archaeological site. The area is fairly flat, except for the circular rise completely encompassing the historic grounds. Known as the “Great Circle,” the native people who built it 2,000 years used baskets and primitive tools to dig out dirt. They piled it high, (about 8 feet in places) creating a perfect mound-like wall that surrounds what was once a sacred center. Not only have archaeologists and historians studied the site to find out its purpose, but mathematicians and astronomers have been part of the scientific team studying the site. While much still remains a mystery, these experts have determined that the Earthworks, which are actually made up of several geometric circles, squares and octagons, have a connection to the moon’s cycle. Yet, there are many unanswered questions, including who the people were that built the mounds, circles, and other geometric mounds.

This part of the country is rich with history. Plus, it’s pretty as the dickens. Not sure if I’ll write a book about the Newark Earthworks, but will definitely put together a few magazine pitches.

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