Book Cover

The Fertile Earth and the Ordered Cosmos

Reflections on the Newark Earthworks and World Heritage

Edited by M. Elizabeth Weiser, Timothy R. W. Jordan, and Richard D. Shiels

152 pp. 11 x 8.5
25 Color Illustrations
Pub Date: June, 2023

Subjects: Ohio

Imprint: Trillium

order Paperback $24.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-5870-5
Order PDF ebook$24.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-8286-1

“This volume reveals the beauty and precision of Indigenous science demonstrated through the Newark Earthworks and the urgent efforts to care for this sacred place in our time. The diversity of voices and insights makes clear that the Earthworks are still gifting us with knowledge written on the land.” —Sonya Atalay (Anishinaabe-Ojibwe), author of Community-Based Archaeology: Research with, by, and for Indigenous and Local Communities

The Fertile Earth and the Ordered Cosmos allows you to explore the awe, beauty, and genius of the Newark Earthworks and why they are just as significant as Stonehenge, the Colosseum, the Pyramids, or other world wonders. These essays reflect the work that is ongoing to center Indigenous voices in interpreting these places. Whether the Newark Earthworks are in your backyard or a globe away, these essays will illuminate their extraordinary human story, made of earth, one basket at a time.” —Megan Wood, executive director and CEO, Ohio History Connection

“The dazzling site known as the Newark Earthworks has mystified, inspired, and captivated humans for millennia. Even today, it precisely charts the heavens and offers a place to consider the biggest questions in the universe. The Fertile Earth and the Ordered Cosmos is the first book to both explore its origins and to show how people in our own time continue to find meaning in its elegant construction.” —Paul Chaat Smith (Comanche), author and curator at the National Museum of the American Indian

Essays and photos honoring the cultural and archaeological significance of Ohio’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 2000-year-old Newark Earthworks.

Rising in quiet grandeur from the earth in an astoundingly engineered arrangement that ancient peoples mapped to the movements of the moon, Ohio’s Newark Earthworks form the largest geometric earthen complex ever known. In the two thousand years of their existence, they have served as gathering place, ceremonial site, fairground, army encampment, golf course, and park. And, at long last, they (along with neighboring sites) were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2023—a designation that recognizes their international importance as a direct link to the ancient past as well as their continuing cultural and archaeological significance.

The lush photos and wide-ranging essays of The Fertile Earth and the Ordered Cosmos honor this significance, not only to the global community but to local individuals and scholars who have developed intimate connections to the Earthworks. In sharing their experiences with this ancient site, public historians, archaeologists, physicists, architects, and others—including local and Indigenous voices—continue the work of nearly two hundred years of citizen efforts to protect and make accessible the Newark Earthworks after centuries of stewardship by Indigenous people. The resulting volume serves as a rich primer on the site for those unfamiliar with its history and a beautifully produced tribute for those who are already acquainted with its wonders.

All proceeds from the sale of this book go to support the Ohio History Connection and the Newark Earthworks Center in their efforts to manage and interpret the site for the world.

M. Elizabeth Weiser is a professor of rhetoric and museology at The Ohio State University, specializing in public memory and national narratives. She is the author of Museum Rhetoric: Building Civic Identity in National Spaces and other books.

Timothy R. W. Jordan worked as an interpreter and site manager for the Newark Earthworks and Flint Ridge Ancient Quarries and Nature Preserve from 2013 to 2022. He is on the English faculty of Zane State College and is a seminarian at Trinity Lutheran Seminary.

Richard D. Shiels is an emeritus associate professor of history at The Ohio State University and the founding director of the university’s Newark Earthworks Center. He is coeditor (with Lindsay Jones) of The Newark Earthworks: Enduring Monuments, Contested Meanings.


Foreword: Making the Earthworks Public

Richard D. Shiels

Part I. What Are the Newark Earthworks?

A Shawnee Perspective

Glenna J. Wallace

The Mystery in Our Midst

Aaron Keirns

Hard to Describe but Awesome to Experience

Brad Lepper

A Traveling Architect’s View

John E. Hancock

Earthworks Terminology

Richard D. Shiels

The Greatness of the Great Circle

Timothy R. W. Jordan

Part II. Uniting Earth and Sky

Exciting Times

John N. Low

Licking County’s Ancient Treasures

Bill Weaver

Nature and the Newark Earthworks

Jim Williams

How We Found the Lunar Alignments at the Octagon

Ray Hively and Robert Horn

Just How Does the Octagon Align with the Moon?

Richard D. Shiels

The Rhythm of the Moon Written on the Land

Mike Mickelson

The Rest of the Story

Brad Lepper

Part III. What Is World Heritage?

Rising to the Occasion

Stacey Halfmoon

The Newark Earthworks Have Integrity

Brad Lepper

Designating the Octagon and Great Circle as World Heritage Sites

Jennifer Aultman

The Newark Earthworks Have Outstanding Universal Value

Brad Lepper

It Is Time to Prepare for Earthworks Tourism

M. Elizabeth Weiser

What Can America Learn from the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks?

Richard D. Shiels

Part IV. Experiencing and Remembering Earthworks

Places of Spirituality, Accomplishment, and Power

Marti L. Chaatsmith

The First Modern Lunar Standstill

Mike Mickelson

Complicated History Is Built into Our Landscape

M. Elizabeth Weiser

Generations of Learners Honor the Earthworks

Mary F. Borgia

The Other Newark Earthworks

Timothy R. W. Jordan

The Life-Changing Potential of Our Earthworks

Richard D. Shiels

Thin Places

Jim Williams

Thinking about Earthworks in New Ways

Timothy R. W. Jordan

Part V. The Ohio Phenomenon

World Heritage for the Hopewell Culture Earthworks

Richard D. Shiels

The Fort Ancient Earthworks: Similar but Different

Brad Lepper

Hopewell Culture National Historical Park: The Hopewell Core

Bret J. Ruby

How the Great Hopewell Road Connected Newark with Chillicothe

Brad Lepper

My Hopewell Pilgrimage between Chillicothe and Newark

Norita Yoder

Part VI. Ancient Communities Coming Together

Indigenous Values Infuse the World Heritage Movement

Christine Ballengee Morris

Licking County’s 14,000-Year History

Timothy R. W. Jordan

Building Earthworks, Building Community

Jim Williams

A Prehistoric Legacy for the Present

Ray Hively and Robert Horn

A 2,000-Year-Old Intellectual Center

Lucy E. Murphy

Part VII. Modern Communities Coming Together

Growing Up in the Mahoning Valley

Jay Toth

Seeing the Moon Again for the First Time

Jeff Gill

Want a Better Community? Be Awestruck

M. Elizabeth Weiser

Drawn Together at Earthworks

Timothy R. W. Jordan

Universal Value and Significance

Hope Taft

A World Heritage Fledgling

Jennifer Aultman


List of Contributors

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