If you don't immediately think of the Great Pyramid of Giza or the Lighthouse of Alexandria when you consider the Newark Earthworks, in modern-day Ohio, well, that could soon change.
A contest to add an eighth to the classic seven wonders of the ancient world is now underway and running until September 30 at Virtualtourist.com/8thwonder.
3D reconstruction of a moonrise over the Newark Earthworks.
The Newark Earthworks are indeed a wonder. Deep inside the unassuming borders of what is today Ohio sits a complex of earthworks aligned so precisely with the rise and set of the moon that modern surveying equipment could not do better. And this summer, lots of public events means you can enjoy and marvel, as the ancients must have done.
The 2,000-year-old site in what is now Newark, Ohio, is the largest geometric earthworks complex in the world, with approximately 12-foot-high, grass-covered earthen walls outlining huge circles and other forms. Arising gently from its surroundings, the place is both a massive modification of the landscape and a masterpiece of subtlety.
Built two millennia ago, one basket-load of dirt at a time, the biggest enclosures would swallow up several football fields; Stonehenge could be tucked into a tiny corner of one of these gigantic shapes.
Newark actually >consists of three sections of preserved earthworks: the Great Circle Earthworks, the Octagon Earthworks, and the Wright Earthworks. This complex contained the largest earthen enclosures in the world, being about 3,000 acres in extent. Today, the site itself covers 206 acres. The site is preserved as a state park by the Ohio Historical Society. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark. In 2006, Newark Earthworks was also designated as the "official prehistoric monument of the State of Ohio."“The Newark Earthworks are proof of our ancestors’ genius,” Carol Welsh, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate and director of the Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio (NAICCO) told ICMTN, in Columbus.
What the earthworks’ builders called themselves is not known; archaeologists refer to them as “the Hopewell culture,” after the owner of a farm where artifacts were found during the 19th century. Often people think that mounds always involve burials.
“This is not necessarily so,” said Welsh. “Some did, but most appear to have been places of celebration, where folks came together to pray and honor the gifts of the Earth.”
The Earthworks are going up against some tough competition, including Niagara Falls, Stonehenge in the United Kingdom and the Matterhorn in Switzerland. It also faces some unusual competition, such as the Iowa 80 Truckstop, the largest Bass Pro Shops store in the world in Springfield, Missouri, and a Paul Bunyan statue in Maine. Clearly, this isn't a scientific competition to decide the "eighth wonder."
But some other Native mound sites are included in the list of candidates, including the Cahokia Mounds in Illinois and the Rock Eagle Mound in Georgia.