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America's Top 10 Mound Sites

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Author Topic: America's Top 10 Mound Sites  (Read 90 times)
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« on: May 21, 2010, 03:00:33 pm »

#1 Newark Earthworks, OH
Newark Earthworks, Ohio • Earthworks & Mounds • Hopewell
National Historic Sites—operated by the Ohio Historical Society. Located throughout Newark, OH at various sites bounded by Union St., 30th Street, James Street, Waldo Street, and Rt. 16.
Newark is the largest set of enclosed earthworks known to exist in the world. Its uniqueness, vastness, preservation, and almost incomprehensible design make it the #1 mound site in America. The huge complex is divided into several distinct but connected sites including Octagon Mound State Memorial, The Great Circle Earthworks, and the Wright Earthworks.
The Octagon Mound State Memorial is nearly perfectly preserved and is the best manicured earthworks and mound location in America and perhaps in the world. The huge circular and octagon-shaped earthworks at the site have been incorporated into the pristine Moundbuilders Country Club Golf Course.
The near perfect circular earthwork at this site encloses about 20-acres and has earthen walls 8 to 14-feet high. The Great Pyramid of Giza could fit within the confines of the circular earthwork. A narrow set of parallel walls connects the circle to an earth walled octagon enclosing an astonishing 50-acres. The size of the octagon is so immense that Four Roman Coliseums could fit into it. There are 8 gaps in the earthen walls of the octagon; however, sight lines from inside the octagon through the gaps are blocked at all 8 points by truncated pyramid mounds deliberately erected at each location. Several small circular earthworks, with lower walls, are located outside the octagon.
Although they are essentially now destroyed, there were originally three sets of parallel walls leading from the octagon. The walls were about 3-feet high and spaced to form flat walkways a uniform 175-feet in width. One set of walls enclosed a walkway to the south-southwest. Archaeologist Bradley Lepper, head of the Ohio Historical Society Museum in Columbus, began tracing the walls in the late 1980’s. In 1996 Lepper reported that he had evidence that the walled road ran in a straight line from the Newark octagon for 56 miles terminating at the nearly identical circle and octagon at the High Banks, Ohio site at Chillicothe. Lepper termed it The Great Hopewell Road.
In the mid-1980’s two professors from Indiana’s Earlham College, Hively and Horn , found that a precise astronomical alignment was embedded into the plans of the circle and octagon earthworks. What they found was that the geometric circle and octagon forms were used for visual alignments that tracked the moon’s cyclic movements. The moon goes through an 18.61 year cycle where the maximum and minimum moonrise and moonset is predictable. The lunar “standstill,” an event that was encoded into England’s Stonehenge, was also predicted by the sightlines in the Hopewell earthworks. By aligning the precise rise and set of the moon using sightlines on the geometric formation and its mounds, solar eclipses can be predicted.
Two long sets of parallel walls forming walkways ran about 1.5 miles to the east from the octagon to the nearly inexplicable maze of the Wright Earthworks area. Curving linear earthworks, linear embankments, circular embankments, and long enclosures formed by walls of earth were arranged into a geometric maze. One large earthwork, part of which remains as Wright Earthworks, formed a large square that enclosed 20-acres. Seven small mounds stood at the inner edges of the square. To the southwest of the square, a set of parallel walls lead to another set of curving walls. This feature led to what was once called the Fairgrounds Circle but is now known as The Great Circle Earthworks.
Great Circle Earthworks is a near perfect circle enclosing 30-acres. Its outer wall is formed by a 9-foot wall of earth. On the inside is a moat 7-feet deep. Its size and basic layout is identical to England’s Avebury (except without the standing stones present at Avebury). The circle has one opening oriented toward the northeast. The walls of earth are higher and wider at this opening. In the center of the Great Circle is a mound, which has long been thought to be a bird effigy mound. The head of the bird is oriented toward the opening. Excavations in the mound revealed that it had been used in burial ceremonies including cremations.
The purposes of the Hopewell earthworks and enclosures has long been a great mystery and Newark has posed the greatest enigma. Archaeologists have simply related that they served ceremonial purposes and archaeoastronomers have found that lunar and solar events were calculated from some types of earthworks.
Hopewell and Native American beliefs have revealed that the ancients believed that the soul had to be released from its physical binding—the body—before the soul could make its way back to its point of origin somewhere in the heavens. The Milky Way is incorporated into these beliefs in that some tribal lore relates that the Milky Way is a Ghost Trail or a River of Souls making their journey back to the portal between heaven and earth.
In 2004 British science writer Andrew Collins visited Newark and was drawn to investigate the Great Circle further. At the time Collins was working on a book, The Cygnus Mystery (2006), which traced the alignments of archaeological sites in Europe to the northern sky—specifically to a constellation in the Milky Way called Cygnus. Cygnus, the stellar representation of a bird, was known to Native Americans as the Northern Cross, and it played a key role in many legends of death and rebirth. Collins found that in 100 B.C. — 2 hours before the sunrise at midsummer — the Milky Way stood straight up into the sky starting from the only opening in the Great Circle. Directly overhead and aligned in the same way as the bird effigy mound was Cygnus. Collins believes that a burial/cremation ceremony was held at specific times at the mound in the Great Circle. The ceremony was held to release the souls of the deceased and propel them through the only opening from the Great Circle into the Milky Way and on to Cygnus.
While this top 10 list can be debated, the fact remains that America's mounds are one of the most incredible yet unappreciated archaeological wonders of the world. All of America's 48 contiguous states contain mounds, yet relatively few people know of their existence.
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