COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Ohio’s Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks has been inscribed as the state’s first and only United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.

The eight Earthworks in southern Ohio were built by Native Americans between 1,600 and 2,000 years ago. The Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks is now the 25th World Heritage listing in the U.S.

The Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks is a collective of eight monumental sites operated by the Ohio History Connection and the National Park Service. The three operated by Ohio History Connection are:

  • Great Circle Earthworks (Heath)
  • Octagon Earthworks (Newark)
  • Fort Ancient Earthworks (Oregonia)

The rest are maintained by the National Park Service:

  • Mound City Group
  • Hopewell Mound Group
  • Seip Earthworks
  • High Bank Works
  • Hopeton Earthworks

The Earthworks were nominated back in January of 2022, but the process to even get to that point started over a decade ago.

“It started in 2008 when the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks took the first step and were placed on the world heritage tentative list,” said Neil Thompson, Manager of Media and PR for Ohio History Connection.

After that, it was years of study and documentation to prove why these Earthworks hold outstanding universal value.

“The Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks are examples of monumental architecture, created by Native Americans roughly 1,600 to 2,000 years ago,” Thompson said.

These eight sites once dotted the landscape all across Ohio.

“When you go to these Hopewell Ceremonial Earthwork sites whether you’re in Licking County, Ross County, Warren County, you’re going to step back in time. You’re going to be among the earthen walls that were built basket full by basket full by ancient Native Americans,” Thompson said.

It’s not exactly clear what happened nearly 2,000 years ago, but they do know these sites were used for ceremonial services. Now that it’s recognized as a World Heritage site, it will bring visitors from all over.

“In addition to that, they’re going to see everything else that we have to offer, everything that makes Ohio great. So, we are so excited that we have so many visitors that will be coming to our great state,” Thompson said.

If you haven’t had a chance to visit these sites yet, there will be quite a few chances to do so in October. To learn more, click here.