The Ohio State University at Newark

New Book Published on Newark Earthworks

NEWARK, Ohio, May 2, 2016 – The Newark Earthworks are a mystery of the ancient world. However, a new book written and edited by scholars at the Columbus and Newark campuses of The Ohio State University called The Newark Earthworks: Enduring Monuments, Contested Meanings answers some of the questions surrounding the geometrical mounds of earth that were built nearly two thousand years ago.

The Octagon Earthworks is one of the most spectacular surviving remnants of the Newark Earthworks. The octagonal enclosure is large enough to contain four Roman Colosseums and is connected to a perfectly circular enclosure 1,054 feet in diameter. The architecture of the Octagon Earthworks encodes a sophisticated understanding of geometry and astronomy. The Octagon State Memorial is part of the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks and is a National Historical landmark. It is also on track to become a UNESCO World Heritage site.

“Although there have been many scholarly and scientific articles written about the Newark Earthworks, there had never been a full length book published on them. This book is the product of a symposium hosted by the Newark Earthworks Center and funded by an Action Plan from the Newark campus in 2011 entitled ‘The Newark Earthworks and World Heritage.’ “It is fair to say that this book project is one piece of the very ambitious effort by Ohio State Newark and partner institutions across the state to win inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List,” said Dr. Richard Shiels, an emeritus associate professor of history and one of the book’s editors. “The book itself is a significant contribution to the materials that UNESCO will review when considering Ohio's Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks for the World Heritage list in the next couple of years.”

Ohio was once home to nearly 600 sites with geometric earthworks built by ancestors of today's American Indians. The Octagon in Newark and the Great Circle in Heath are virtually the only original geometric enclosures which remain and are open to the public.

“These monuments are believed to have been ceremonial centers used by ancestors of Native Americans called the ‘Hopewell Culture,’ as social gathering places, religious shrines, pilgrimage sites and astronomical observatories,” said Shiels.

List price for the paperback is $35. The hardbound can be ordered from Amazon for $70.

“Readers may be especially interested in the chapter by Ray Hively and Robert Horn, the two Earlham College Professors who re-discovered the lunar alignments,” said Shiels. “They also might be interested in the chapter by Brad Lepper, well known in our community for his ground breaking work on the Newark Earthworks.” Contemporary American Indian peoples' perspectives about the site are explored in an essay by NEC Interim Director Marti L. Chaatsmith. Shiels’ essay provides an overview of several generations of Licking County residents who took action to preserve the Great Circle and the Octagon over more than a century in which nearly all of Ohio’s other geometric earthen enclosures were being destroyed.

The Ohio State University at Newark offers an academic environment that’s challenging but supportive with world-renowned professors and access to Ohio State’s more than 200 majors. It’s where learning comes to life. Research, study abroad and service learning opportunities prepare students for their careers in ways they never expected.