The Fort Ancient Earthworks in Warren County and other sites comprising Ohio’s Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks are a big step closer to being designated as World Heritage sites.
The site is located on a wooded plateau about 260 feet above the east bank of the Little Miami River in Washington Twp., Warren County.
Here are seven things to know about Fort Ancient:
1. The earthworks were built centuries ago. Native American Hopewell people built an earthworks embankment wall that surrounds approximately 125 acres of the plateau during their presence between the 1st century BC and the 6th century AD.
2. The historic site was built to be ceremonial. This embankment ranges from five to 25-feet in height and was originally believed to be a protective barrier from invaders. Further study revealed that Fort Ancient represents a ceremonial space instead of a fortress.
3. The site took hundreds of years to build. Archaeologists have estimated that the walls were built in three stages over a 400-year period, with a volume of dirt exceeding half-a-million cubic yards. Most of this work was done with tools made from deer and elk bones and baskets.
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4. Other historic elements fill the park. In addition to the embankments, other earthen features can be found throughout the park including conical and crescent-shaped mounds, limestone pavements and circles, and many subsurface elements that are currently being excavated and studied.
5. Fort Ancient was Ohio’s first state park. The land on which Fort Ancient exists was purchased by the State of Ohio in 1891 to become the first state park. Fort Ancient has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is currently being considered to become a World Heritage Site. Archaeologists continue to study Fort Ancient, which is managed by Dayton Society of Natural History and the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery.
6. Status could fuel development. World Heritage Site status, envisioned in 2021, could fuel development at the Wilmington Road interchange to I-71, including a native arts interpretative center on land owned by the University of Cincinnati. UC said it has no such plans “at this time.”
7. What’s next? With nomination from the U.S. Department of the Interior, Ohio History Connection is focused on getting ready documents needed to convince officials with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) the earthworks site deserve the sought-after status.
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