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Monday, January 28, 2008

Ohio's Serpent Mound Makes First Cut: Among 14 U.S. Sites Evaluated As Earth's Most Significant

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne last week disclosed the locations of U.S. cultural and natural treasures considered candidates for inclusion on the United Nations' World Heritage list. Three of the sites are in Ohio, which means the state eventually could be recognized as having some of "the most significant cultural and natural treasures on the planet."

Serpent Mound, the mammoth and mysterious effigy of a 1,330-foot snake in Adams County, made the cut. It dates back to about 1120 AD. Others picked include a collection numbering four places in and around Dayton that are associated with the Wright Brothers, who built the world's first airplane and pioneered human flight. Also on the Interior Department's list are more than 40 earthworks left by the Native American Hopewell culture -- the people some call moundbuilders --- who left behind gigantic structures in precise geometric shapes more than 1,000 years ago. About the ancient structures in Ohio, the Interior Department noted:

"These are among the largest earthworks in the world that are not fortifications or defensive structures, and they contain extensive deposits of finely crafted artifacts. Their scale is imposing by any standard: the Great Pyramid of Cheops would have fit inside the Wright Earthworks; four structures the size of the Colosseum of Rome would fit in the Octagon; and the circle of monoliths at Stonehenge would fit into one of the small auxiliary earthwork circles adjacent to the Octagon."

The full text of Interior Secretary Kempthorne's announcement is HERE. At the moment, there are 851 sites across the globe on the UNESCO list. In 1972, President Richard Nixon proposed the treaty that deemed it important to preserve natural and cultural heritage sites of global significance. There are now 184 signatory countries. Kempthorne said:

"I am pleased to be able to take the necessary first step so that these truly significant American natural and cultural properties can be considered for the most prestigious international recognition accorded to properties of global importance. Each of these sites is important to Americans as well as others around the world."

The Ohio Arhaeology Blog has the news, too, and deserves kudos for pushing people to write letters urging the Interior Department to recognize Ohio's treasures. So did the Ohio Historical Society.


  1. Serpent Mound is an awesome historical place, I've spent many an hour there and many more hours reading about it.

  2. LisaRenee --

    It is such a strange object. The astronomical aspects are fascinating -- showing when the solstices occur, for example. And then there is that whole thing about whether it sits atop on zillion year of volcano or chute to the magma; or whether an asteroid slammed into the Earth there 400 or so million years ago. Nobody knows what the serpent means, why it is there . . . I don't know how many Ohioans really appreciate that slice of geography.