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The Newark (World's Largest) Earthworks, & the 2,000 Year Old Hopewell Lunar Observatory!

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posted on Feb, 13 2010 @ 09:07 PM
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G’day ATS,

I came across this amazing place in a book the other day and was surprised to find that there hadn’t been a single mention of it on ATS, ever.

Either these Earthworks are simply not that well known, or it’s an immensely boring topic for ATS members! I’ll take my chances and present this thread to you so you can decide for yourselves!

As with my previous thread Çatalhöyük, the Neolithic City that pre-dated the Ancient Egyptians by 4,000 years!, I should begin by apologising for the length of the thread. However this is such an interesting and important place that I’m sure by the end you’ll have forgiven me.

So that you get an idea of where these earthworks are situated, here is a map, like me you'll be pleased to know that these important ancient features are to be found in the US (it’s seems like these sites are always in Europe, South America or Egypt!), which is why I was a little surprised they hadn’t as yet graced the hallowed boards of ATS.





What makes the Earthworks so special? Well many things, not least of which is their sheer size!


The size of these earthworks is impressive. The Great Circle is nearly 1,200 feet in diameter, and the Octagon Earthworks enclose 50 acres (its linked circle encloses 20 acres). The entire complex was about 3,000 acres in extent.


The Newark Earthworks were the largest interconnected prehistoric geometric earthworks in the world . Surely that is worthy of a thread friends.

Before I show you the awesome Newark Earthworks, let me introduce you briefly to their creators.


THE HOPEWELL INDIANS



100 B.C. to A.D. 500

The Hopewell culture is an ancient American Indian civilization that arose in Ohio and other parts of eastern North America during the Middle Woodland Period, perhaps as early as 100 BC. It is characterized by gigantic mounds and earthen enclosures in a variety of shapes, magnificent works of art crafted from raw materials brought to Ohio from great distances, and particular styles of stone tools and pottery unique to this time and region.


Hopewell Shaman covered in a bear skin from the Newark site



The Hopewell people lived in small villages, or hamlets, scattered throughout the river valleys of southern Ohio where they grew a variety of crops, including sunflower, squash, goosefoot, maygrass, and other plants with oily or starchy seeds. They also gathered wild plants, hunted for deer and other large and small game, and fished. The earthworks also must have served as places for these dispersed groups to gather periodically to renew friendships and socialize.


Unlike other more recent Indian Tribes, we do not know what these indigenous Americans called themselves, certainly not the Hopewell people! However this term has become accepted to describe Native Americans of this period living in the areas detailed in the map below.



Although what feature characterises this culture above all else is the amazing artwork for which the Hopewell culture is renowned.

Hopewell Sheet Mica Bird Claw


The Hopewell created some of the finest craftwork and artwork of the Americas. Most of their works had some religious significance, and their graves were filled with necklaces, ornate carvings made from bone or wood, decorated ceremonial pottery, ear plugs, and pendants.


Hopewell Sheet Mica Hand

Read more about Hopewell art HERE

Hopewell Copper Mask


Okay, now let me introduce you to the main event!


[edit on 13-2-2010 by kiwifoot]




posted on Feb, 13 2010 @ 09:08 PM
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THE NEWARK EARTHWORKS


It is not known precisely when the Hopewell Indians created the Earthworks, so we can only surmise they were constructed between 100 B.C and 400 A.D. I’ve already mentioned their impressive size; however it’s only from the air that you can really begin to grasp how big this complex really was. There are three main features, known as the Great Circle Earthworks, the Octagon Earthworks and the Wright Earthworks. The Earthwork complex was used for the burial of Hopwell dead, ceremonial purposes, and most interestingly the Octagon Earthworks was an elaborate Lunar Observatory, which I’ll be covering in more detail further on in the thread.

I’m going to overlay an 1862 map of the earthworks by Newark residents James H. and Charles B. Salisbury, this will give you an idea of their size. They surveyed the site before the area was settled and ravaged by modern construction and infrastructure development. At this point I'll say that the images below detail an area around 3.5 km by 2.5km, I told you this complex was HUGE!


Aerial View of the site, can you make out any of the earthworks?

Aerial view with a partial overlay of the 1892 map





Just the map on it’s own


The Great Circle


The Great Circle is a huge earthwork with a diameter of 360 meters, its walls are an impressive 2.4 meters high and they lay in front of a moat that is 1.5 meters deep! It is widely believed that this was the ceremonial centre of the site.



Archaeologists excavated the Great Circle in 1992 in an attempt to discover how the Hopewell built this amazing monument.


The archaeologists discovered different layers within the earthwork that showed the different stages in the construction of the enclosure wall. The deepest level was a dark brown soil layer representing the original ground surface on which the ancient people walked.

The first stage of construction was the building of a circle of small mounds. The single mound cut through by the 1992 excavations was made of tan-colored silt.

In the second stage of construction, the builders dug a ditch inside the circle of mounds and piled up the dark brown topsoil on top of, and in the gaps between, the mounds. This buried the circle of mounds under a dark brown circular enclosure.

In the final stage of construction, the builders dug deep pits nearby and used the yellowish-brown earth from deep underground to cover the inside of the circular enclosure. At the end of this stage, the outer surface of the Great Circle would have been dark brown, but the inside surface of the circle would have been bright yellowish-brown


One can only wonder what significance these colours held for the Hopewell.

Photo showing a segment of the Great Circle’s wall and moat


The Eagle Mound


In the centre of the Great Circle there is a low mound called Eagle Mound. Perhaps it once was a effigy mound resembling an eagle but today, it just appears to be a cluster of low mounds.


As explained by Bradley T Lepper, in 1996:


Eagle Mound, at the centre of the Great Circle, covers the remains of a structure which may have served as a charnel house (Lepper 1989). Although no human remains were encountered in Greenman's 1928 excavations, Smucker (1881) refers to earlier excavations which did encounter "...an altar built of stone, upon which were found ashes, charcoal, and calcined bones..." (Smucker 1881:266).


In 1928, Emerson Greenman excavated the Eagle Mound and discovered evidence of postholes and a wooden structure, suggesting a large covered ceremonial enclosure.


The postmold pattern Greenman uncovered is the remains of a large rectangular structure almost 100 feet long by about 23 feet wide with walls like wings extending outward on each side at a forty-degree angle from the main axis.


Although highly similar to Hopewell mortuary areas, the dig gave up no human remains, so the exact purpose of the Eagle Mound is a mystery.

The Entrance:

The entrance/exit walls to the outer feature are in fact larger than in other parts which would have made approaching the Great Circle an awe inspiring experience for the Hopewell. On exiting the Circle 2,000 years ago, a Hopewell Indian would have found himself walking on a walled path leading to the next monument in this complex.


The Wright Earthwork

Connected to the Great Circle by a walled pathway, this monument has been mostly destroyed by modern construction. All that remains is a 15 meter section, a sorry remnant of a near perfect square, detailed below in the 1862 survey.



Map and image detailing portion of Square Monument still in existence


Using the 1862 map as a guide, we can see that the Wright Earthwork Square had sides 290 meters in length, very impressive in my opinion. It is just immensely sad that more of this Earthwork hasn’t survived.

The Cherry Valley Mounds


The Cherry Valley Mounds is the name given to about a dozen mounds in the middle of an oval enclosure, about 550 meters across. The mounds themselves contained several human burials with deluxe grave goods, including sheets of mica between one-half and one inch in thickness. Unfortunately, the Cherry Valley Mounds, located at the east edge of the earthworks have been largely destroyed by the urban expansion of the city of Newark.


Finally I can talk to you about the main attraction at The Newark Earthworks, as if the Great Circle wasn’t “Great” enough! Anyone who is interested in Ancient Astronomy will enjoy the next part of the thread.





[edit on 14-2-2010 by kiwifoot]



posted on Feb, 13 2010 @ 09:09 PM
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The Octagon Earthwork


Named after the eight sided polygon which the earthworks resemble, the Octagonal Earthwork is a very substantial monument. Including the Circular feature that is attached to it, the complex covers somewhere in the region of seventy acres (the complex is large enough to hold four Roman Colosseums). It is connected to the other structures on the site by avenues of parallel walls and ditches, and has a large “road” leading away (or to) it that is flanked on either side by burial mounds, which have all been mostly destroyed.




The Octagon Earthworks include a large circular enclosure 1,054 feet in diameter connected by a set of parallel walls to an octagonal enclosure that encompasses nearly fifty acres. The walls of the octagon vary from five to six feet in height and are each about 550 feet long. There is a platform, or loaf-shaped, mound at each opening to the octagon. The circular earthwork encloses an area of about 20 acres. A large platform mound, referred to as Observatory Mound, is located along the southwestern perimeter of the circle opposite the gateway to the octagon. The form of Observatory Mound suggests it was built across a former entrance to the circular earthwork.


Excavations in the 19th Century revealed something odd, the enclosure was found tp contain no burial mounds whatsoever. They concluded that there must have been an entirely different purpose for this 2 meter wall of earth and stone. Then in 1911 Moundbuilders Country Club acquired the land in order to establish a Golf Club! In most circumstances this would be a tragedy, however as you can see from the rest of the site (which has been destroyed by the progress of Newark), this turn of events actually saved the Octagon. The Club incorporated the bumps and mounds of the Octagon into their course, preserving the important archaeology for us.

It was first theorised that the gaps in the Earthworks were some sort of collapsed archways, then a solar calendar of some sort, perhaps like Stone Henge is believed to be. However there was no evidence to substantiate these theories. In fact, the scientists looking for solar connections couldn’t even find alignments by chance which on such a structure (so big with many walls and gaps) was quite extraordinary.


This was perplexing, until it dawned on them that there were no solar alignments because the walls were aligned to something else – the moon. They found that the architecture of the Octagon Earthworks incorporated alignments to all of the eight major moonrises and moonsets that define a repeating 18.6-year lunar cycle.


Plan of the Octagon and Observatory mound


The Octagon Earthworks are a remarkable testament to the architectural and engineering genius of the Hopewell culture, but astronomers recently have come to realize that the Hopewell culture builders aligned these earthworks to the cyclical dance of the earth and moon. If you stand atop the Observatory Mound and look across the circle through the parallel-walled passage leading into the octagon and out through the octagon's northeastern gateway, the point on the horizon at which you are sighting is where the moon rises at its most northerly extreme. The intricate 18.6 year-long cycle of the moon can be encompassed by four points on the eastern horizon marking a maximum northern moonrise, a minimum northern moonrise, a maximum and minimum southern moonrise and four points on the western horizon marking the corresponding moonsets. The Hopewell culture builders encoded all of these astronomical landmarks into the architecture of the Octagon.


I really want you to admire this amazing feat of Bronze Age technology, so please go to this site, it will explain it far better than I can, I don’t want to just copy it or try and explain it in my own words as doing either would be an insult to the Hopewell!

EXPLANATION OF THE OCTAGON LUNAR OBSERVATORY

But here are some pictures to give you an idea what the Observatory was like and how it worked:







The moon would rise and set in the gaps in the walls of the Octagon, astounding really. There is actually a similar structure called the High Bank Works in Chillicothe, it is 60 miles away and consists of a slightly smaller circle and octagon. There has been a suggestion that the parallel walls creating a road leading away from the Newark octagon are actually part of a ceremonial ‘road’ linking these two important Hopewell sites. This theory may have something to it as the sites are perfectly in line and if the 'road' was projected it would indeed meet the other site exactly!

The beginnings of a Hopewell Road?

Well ATS, I hope you have enjoyed reading this thread as much as I've enjoyed making it, somehow when I complete a thread like this I feel less accomplished than when I began. These people were so remarkable!

All the best! KF!






SOURCES

OHS the Newark Earthworks
Archaeology.org: The Newark Earthworks
Ohiohistorycentral.org: Hopewell Culture
Ancestral Art
The Megalithic Portal
Dr Von Zuko's Lost Civilisations
THE NEWARK EARTHWORKS AND THE GEOMETRIC ENCLOSURES OF THE SCIOTO VALLEY:
CONNECTIONS AND CONJECTURES

Octagonmoonrise
The Octagon: Historic Structure Report PDF
Wikipedia



posted on Feb, 14 2010 @ 09:47 AM
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Oh Dear, I hate it when I'm proved right!!


or it’s an immensely boring topic for ATS members!


Haha, you have to laugh!

All the best ATS!



posted on Feb, 14 2010 @ 10:12 AM
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Beautiful presentation, kiwifoot!

*S&F*

I am astonished about how huge this area is, and love the fact that its almost in my backyard! Well, not really. But, close!

I have visited the Serpent Mound and loved every second of it. Also visited Seven Caves and definitely wondered if the Hopewell lived there!

Its amazing how the people of this area lived here, and flourished!

You have to wonder how advanced these people were...
All the different civilizations acroos the globe that had the same ideas and similar styles. Almost seems like the entire globe branched off of one major group of beliefs and after time, built their own monuments.

What really sickens me is the fact that this entire observatory has been built upon! Ruined, in a sense that man should of never built homes there.

Mankind sickens me.



posted on Feb, 14 2010 @ 10:19 AM
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great presentation!! amazing what is still out there for all to see. our ancestors intellect cannot be dismissed.



posted on Feb, 14 2010 @ 12:51 PM
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Originally posted by havok
Beautiful presentation, kiwifoot!

*S&F*

I am astonished about how huge this area is, and love the fact that its almost in my backyard! Well, not really. But, close!

I have visited the Serpent Mound and loved every second of it. Also visited Seven Caves and definitely wondered if the Hopewell lived there!

Its amazing how the people of this area lived here, and flourished!

You have to wonder how advanced these people were...
All the different civilizations across the globe that had the same ideas and similar styles. Almost seems like the entire globe branched off of one major group of beliefs and after time, built their own monuments.

What really sickens me is the fact that this entire observatory has been built upon! Ruined, in a sense that man should of never built homes there.

Mankind sickens me.


Mate that Serpent Mound is sweet! I didn't come across that in my research so thanks for that!

I read somewhere that the Hopewell were extremely advanced compared to the other early Native American Tribes. They basically had centuries on the other cultures thriving around them.

I did come across a few references discussing doubt over whether they actually were responsible for some of their feats as they were totally ahead of their time!

I'm amazed by the know how of Neolithic and Bronze age peoples, we would do well to have half the knowledge they had, we'd be a lot happier and in touch with the planet!

I'm glad you like the thread, all the best,KF!




posted on Feb, 14 2010 @ 03:02 PM
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Originally posted by jimmyx
great presentation!! amazing what is still out there for all to see. our ancestors intellect cannot be dismissed.


Not a problem at all, there was so much information out there, the hard part was deciding what to include and what not to include.

I found out in my research that there was something in the region of 10.000 mounds and Earthworks across the US, however he majority have been lost to modern development, what a shame, important relics like this need to be protected!

All the best, KF!



posted on Feb, 14 2010 @ 03:32 PM
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Well you have certainly done your homework.

I first heard about these...gawd maybe as a teen and I am 54 now. I was really into studying history, archeology and anthropology at the time as well as oddities.

I forget where I learned of them though...perhaps Ripley's or Charles Fort or a book on the antiquities of North America.

Regardless they are fascinating and what is even more fascinating is that these sites you are talking about are not isolated. They exist all up and down the Mississippi river valley and its tributaries.

In fact as I understand it at the same time these earthworks were in use larger sites existed in and around St.Louis...which have been obscured by the sprawl of the current cities...

Also in the same St. Louis region existed a city that would rival the present one in size and for awhile was the largest known in either North or South America.



posted on Feb, 14 2010 @ 03:48 PM
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WoW! Not boring at all, in fact i thought it was a great read and presented very well. Thank you for your time and effort! I actually lived in Ohio for a few years and had never heard of this place or these people, so..thank you !



posted on Feb, 14 2010 @ 04:02 PM
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reply to post by kiwifoot
 
Nice thread again.


I usually prepare for new threads on A&LCs by rolling up my sleeves and taking a deep breath. Other times the title is just depressingly predictable. Compliments for posting OPs without the woo-factor...keep 'em coming...



posted on Feb, 14 2010 @ 07:00 PM
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Originally posted by iMacFanatic
Well you have certainly done your homework.

I first heard about these...gawd maybe as a teen and I am 54 now. I was really into studying history, archeology and anthropology at the time as well as oddities.

I forget where I learned of them though...perhaps Ripley's or Charles Fort or a book on the antiquities of North America.

Regardless they are fascinating and what is even more fascinating is that these sites you are talking about are not isolated. They exist all up and down the Mississippi river valley and its tributaries.

In fact as I understand it at the same time these earthworks were in use larger sites existed in and around St.Louis...which have been obscured by the sprawl of the current cities...

Also in the same St. Louis region existed a city that would rival the present one in size and for awhile was the largest known in either North or South America.


Thanks for that, I'll do some digging, you may have goven mw the topic for my next thread!

KF!



posted on Feb, 14 2010 @ 07:03 PM
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Wonderful presentation... S&F

Never ever heard of this before ( I live in the UK, so maybe the reason why). Thank you for rectifying that.

Ancient man's achievements never cease to amaze.



posted on Feb, 14 2010 @ 07:17 PM
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Very Good
At one point, these mounds are refereneced in the ancient lore as being connected with giants, either by means of construction or burial sites.


LOVE



posted on Feb, 15 2010 @ 04:38 AM
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Originally posted by baddmove
WoW! Not boring at all, in fact i thought it was a great read and presented very well. Thank you for your time and effort! I actually lived in Ohio for a few years and had never heard of this place or these people, so..thank you !


Thanks, I'm glad the the read was informative.

I too hadn't heard of these amazing earthworks either.

They aren't as exciting as a pyramid for example. but the lunar observatory is really something.

The cycle itself takes nearly 19 years, so they must have observed the moon rises and sets for a long time, I have tonnes of respect for these Hopewell people!

All the best, KF!



posted on Feb, 15 2010 @ 05:53 AM
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Great thread! Thanks for the hard work.

What do you think of this theory?

With walled pathways to the other mounds, the structure in the middle, the lowered sections, sound like this was battle trenches. The structure in the middle was to feed the fighters during long battles, hence the ashes (they don’t say if the bones are human or animal). You can go from mound to mound protected from the walled pathways. Fighting with bows and arrows from mounds of dirt would create a good defensive position.

From the map sowing the other tribes it appears they were surrounded on all sides and this may have been a very well fortified position to fight them all off. They were able to carry the dead to the burial mound protected from the walled pathways. They would also be able to deliver food and more arrows using these walled trenches. The moonlight would help you see your enemy approaching and would help with aiming.

Maybe the larger area with no structure was for briefing the troops prior to battle like we still do before a major offensive. Maybe it was where they made the arrows to fight with.

Just some thoughts from reading the information presented.

I don’t know why all archeologists automatically assume every culture had some form of worship and religious ceremonies. It seems like they do not examine all possibilities.



posted on Feb, 15 2010 @ 10:46 AM
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Originally posted by Kandinsky
reply to post by kiwifoot
 
Nice thread again.


I usually prepare for new threads on A&LCs by rolling up my sleeves and taking a deep breath. Other times the title is just depressingly predictable. Compliments for posting OPs without the woo-factor...keep 'em coming...


Hey mate, thanks a lot.

This one was a bit tougher as it isn't everyone's cup of tea!

I find it interesting, but the lack of Pyramids or Stargates sometimes means that it's hard to get people interested!

Although I reckon the Lunar Observatory is still pretty impressive!




posted on Feb, 15 2010 @ 02:07 PM
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Very interesting thread!
Thanks for sharing.
S&F!



posted on Feb, 16 2010 @ 01:22 PM
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Originally posted by whattheh
Great thread! Thanks for the hard work.

What do you think of this theory?

With walled pathways to the other mounds, the structure in the middle, the lowered sections, sound like this was battle trenches. The structure in the middle was to feed the fighters during long battles, hence the ashes (they don’t say if the bones are human or animal). You can go from mound to mound protected from the walled pathways. Fighting with bows and arrows from mounds of dirt would create a good defensive position.

From the map sowing the other tribes it appears they were surrounded on all sides and this may have been a very well fortified position to fight them all off. They were able to carry the dead to the burial mound protected from the walled pathways. They would also be able to deliver food and more arrows using these walled trenches. The moonlight would help you see your enemy approaching and would help with aiming.

Maybe the larger area with no structure was for briefing the troops prior to battle like we still do before a major offensive. Maybe it was where they made the arrows to fight with.

Just some thoughts from reading the information presented.

I don’t know why all archeologists automatically assume every culture had some form of worship and religious ceremonies. It seems like they do not examine all possibilities.


You make a good case for the earthworks having a defensive purpose. While researching the thread I did come across a brief paragraph about early ideas about the use of the complex, one of them was for defence, however I seem top recall the discarding that hypoithesis. I can't remember why off hand, I'll see if I can find it.

We really haven't a clue what all of them were for, and I think the answer is probably somewhere in-between!

Surely certain areas were surrounded by ditches to keep them safe, if not the entire complex.

thanks for your input mate, all the best, KF!



posted on Feb, 16 2010 @ 01:43 PM
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Could they have used the mounds to block the wind?

Think about it....the site is near the Great Lakes and fairly far north which would make it pretty damn cold in winter. However, if you build some mounds around where you are settled to effectively block the wind(thus negating wind chill) it would make winter very bearable.

Another possibility is that they WERE for defensive purposes but that it was protection from wildlife(particularly for any livestock they may have kept).

Also, any information on these people using the mounds themselves for dugouts? These types of shelters will keep cool in summer and warm in winter(or at least reasonably cooler and warmer, respectively, than the outside temperature lol).









 
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