Ancient clay artifacts dug up by golfers become World Heritage Site

Ancient clay artifacts dug up by golfers become World Heritage Site

Nine months after the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a country club must sell its lease to the state historical society that owns the land containing Native American earthworks, golfers are still pushing carts up the mound and hitting 3-irons on them. Are attacking from.

But now those octagon earthworks, which were built by Native Americans about 2,000 years ago as a means of tracking the movement of the sun and moon through the sky, have been officially named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“Inscription on the World Heritage List will draw international attention to these treasures long known to Ohioans,” said Megan Wood, executive director and chief executive of Ohio History Connection. A combination of eight earthquake sites in central Ohio were recognized.

Those sites, known collectively as the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, include the Octagon Earthworks in Newark, which were built with earth a basketful at a time with pointed sticks and clam hoes.

The designation, announced Tuesday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, puts the earthworks in the middle Over 1,000 World Heritage Sites, There are only 25 in the United States, they include the Grand Canyon, Independence Hall, and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Justice Michael P. Donnelly said, “The historical, archaeological and astronomical importance of the Octagon Earthworks is certainly equal to that of Stonehenge or Machu Picchu.” The Ohio Supreme Court decision wrote In favor of the State Historical Society, which upheld two lower court decisions.

The recognition comes after a years-long battle between the Moundbuilders Country Club, which had leased the land since 1910 and operated a private golf course atop the earthworks, and the Ohio History Connection, which owns the site. And intends to open it as a public park.

The History Connection sued the country club in 2018 in an effort to regain the lease, which runs until 2078. Federal officials had told the Historical Society that achieving World Heritage recognition, which brings international acclaim and legal protection, would be impossible without full public access to the site.

The club had argued that it was not necessary to terminate the lease to establish public access and argued that it had preserved and cared for the dunes. Its members, David Cratoville, chairman of the club’s board of trustees, told The New York Times in 2021, “Come out for a day and clean out sand traps and plant flowers.”

Following the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision last year, the country club filed a motion for reconsideration which was immediately rejected,

Kratoville wrote in an email Tuesday that the country club has been a good steward of the Octagon Earthworks and welcomes their World Heritage recognition.

“All we have asked for in this long-running situation is to be compensated fairly, allowing our members, our community and the 100 or so people we employ to continue our business elsewhere,” Kratoville said. To be allowed to keep it.”

The club had said it was prepared to move before the lease expires, but the two parties remain millions of dollars apart in negotiations. The value of the lease will now be determined in a jury trial beginning October 17.

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