WHS New “Tentative List”: Places to Love — Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, Ohio

For the Gadling series “World Heritage Site new “Tentative List”: Places to Love” we are covering the 14 sites that have been submitted for possible inclusion as an official World Heritage Site in the United States. The sites will not be posted in order of importance or in the order they appear on the list.

Number: 3

Name of site: Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks

Location: Ohio

Reason for importance (in an nutshell): Rather than one specific location, Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks covers a vast portion of southern Ohio. They encompass nine separate archaeological sites with more than 40 monumental ceremonial earthworks (by the way, I just learned that a “ceremonial earthwork” is, basically, a large-scale alteration of an area of land, presumably for religious purposes) spread across southern Ohio in three archaeological preserves. They’re some of the largest earthworks in the world that weren’t built for defense or fortification (four of Rome’s Coliseums would’ve fit inside what’s called the Octagon [see aerial photo], while Stonehenge would’ve fit inside one of the smaller earthwork circles adjacent to the Octagon), and “contain extensive deposits of finely crafted artifacts.”

Catherine’s take: What’s not to love? Massive scale and cultural significance make the Hopewell earthworks a multi-site not only worth recognizing and preserving as a World Heritage Site, but worth trekking to as well. The mounds that have been worn down into small round humps would also make a great golf course (kidding, of course. Just making sure you’re still with me).