In addition to Serpent Mound, the Ohio Historical Society announced two other Ohio nominations were made -- Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks and Dayton Aviation Sites, representing a total of 12 historical and prehistoric sites in the state. The three nominations are the most for any state.
"Ohio's nominations made the final cut in this competitive process, after an intensive public awareness campaign and tremendous support from Ohio citizens," said William K. Laidlaw Jr., executive director of the Ohio Historical Society. "To be ultimately recognized as a World Heritage Site will be an international honor for our state that would raise awareness of the sites, promote their preservation for future generations and advance regional economic development through increased tourism."
The World Heritage List, which is maintained by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, recognizes natural and cultural sites of significance to all peoples of the world.
Serpent Mound, a state memorial administered by the Ohio Historical Society, is probably the best-known archaeological site in Ohio, and features the earthen effigy of a snake, Laidlaw said.
The ancient ceremonial structure is 1,330-feet long and overlooks Brush Creek Valley.
In the late 19th century, Laidlaw said, Harvard University archaeologist Fredric Ward Putnam excavated Serpent Mound and attributed the creation of the effigy to the builders of the two nearby burial mounds -- the Adena culture and Fort Ancient culture.
The head of the serpent is aligned to the summer solstice sunset, and the triple-coiled tail of the serpent points to the winter solstice sunrise and the equinox sunrise, OHS publications state. It is the largest effigy earthwork in the world.
This will be the first time since 1982 the Department of the Interior has prepared a list of U.S. cultural and natural areas for consideration by UNESCO. The preparation of a tentative list is a necessary first step in the process of nominating a site to the World Heritage List, because a country cannot nominate a property unless it has been on its tentative list for a minimum of a year.
Being nominated for or included on the World Heritage list imposes no legal restrictions on owners or neighbors of sites, nor does it give the UN any management authority or ownership rights in U.S. World Heritage Sites, which continue to be subject to U.S. law, Laidlaw explained.
Keith Bengston, site manager for Serpent Mound, was unavailable to comment on the nomination.
The other nominees:
- Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks is a multi-site nomination consisting of Hopewell Culture National Historical Park's five ancient earthworks in Ross County, including the Ohio Historical Society's Seip Mound, as well as the Society's Newark Earthworks in Licking County and Fort Ancient in Warren County. The earthworks are outstanding examples of an architectural form and landscape design which illustrate 700 years of the Ohio Hopewell culture, Laidlaw said.
- Dayton Aviation Sites, a multi-site nomination associated with the Wright Brothers and development of the airplane is comprised of Huffman Prairie Flying Field at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, The Wright Cycle Company, and Wright and Wright Printing Company building, the Wright Flyer III enshrined in Wright Hall at Carillon Historical Park, and the Wright family home, Hawthorn Hill, in Dayton. The first three components are part of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, a unit of the National Park System, although Huffman Prairie is owned by the U.S. Air Force and Wright Hall by Dayton History. Hawthorn Hill is owned by the Wright Family Foundation.
"The Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks and Serpent Mound are unique in the world," said Dean Alexander, superintendent of the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park. "These ancient structures are representative of the rich cultural heritage of Ohio's early Native Americans."
Larry Blake, superintendent of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, pointed out, "The nomination of the Dayton sites, which represent modern technology, along with the earthworks show the importance of Ohio's history over the centuries."
The tentative list developed by the Department of the Interior will serve as the source of nominations as the U.S. submits two sites every year for consideration by UNESCO between 2009 and 2018. If World Heritage status is granted, the nomination will join 851 World Heritage sites in 141 counties, including 20 sites in the United States -- none of which are from Ohio.
DEBORAH DANIELS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 234 or email@example.com.
What does it mean?
- Being on the tentative list only means that a site appears to meet the criteria for inclusion on the list of World Heritage and the United States intends to nominate it-- it does not guarantee a site will eventually be listed. The World Heritage Committee makes the final decisions on which sites are designated as World Heritage sites.
- The draft tentative list was published in the Federal Register Oct. 31, 2007, for a 30-day period of public comment. After receiving and reviewing the public comments the tentative list will be finalized by the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks in accordance with the program regulations. The list will be forwarded through the Secretary of the Interior to the U.S. Department of State for submittal to the World Heritage Committee. That deadline was Friday. An accompanying report will explain in detail how the sites included in the final tentative list were selected.
Source: Ohio Historical Society
By the numbers:
There are 851 World Heritage sites in 141 countries
- Cultural sites number 660 and natural areas 166
- There are 25 mixed sites that were nominated for both nature and culture
- In the United States, there are 20 World Heritage sites, eight of which are cultural and 12 natural.
More information about the World Heritage List and the nominated Ohio sites can be found at www.ohiohistory.org.
Serpent Mound is located 4 miles northwest of Locust Grove on Ohio 73; 6 miles north of Ohio 32 and 20 miles south of Bainbridge in Adams County.
Site manager is K. Bengston (800) 752-2757