Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Newark Great Circle

The last place I visited in Ohio was the Great Circle Earthworks, which is part of the Newark Earthworks, located in and around Newark, Ohio.  The Great Circle is located on Ohio highway 79 in the city of Heath, immediately south of Newark.  With a diameter of 1,054 feet, it is the largest circular earthwork in the western hemisphere.  Thought to have been built between 250 and 500 AD by people of the Hopewell culture, the circle consists of a wall about eight feet high and an inner trench about five feet deep.  A gap in the wall, each side of which includes a short radial extension, allowed people to enter.  White settlers thought that the circle was a fort, even though forts usually had trenches or moats outside their walls.  Archaeologists now believe that the circle was a ceremonial center, since the direction from its center to the gap is aligned with the rising point of the moon at its maximum standstill.

The site includes other embankments outside the circle, such as these.  The top of a visitor center is seen behind them.  I would later investigate the statue to the right.

Here is the outside of the above-mentioned gap's radial extensions, through which the circle is entered.

This mounted diagram, near the visitor center, shows the layout of the Newark Earthworks, before the encroachment of white settlers and the construction of Newark and the surrounding cities and towns.  The Great Circle is shown at the top toward the right.  The circle and octagon shown toward the bottom right have been incorporated into a golf course.

Also near the visitor center was this remnant of a modern wall.  I did not find out what building it was part of.

This outer embankment is on the west side of the site, and includes a modern stairway.  Behind it is a residential neighborhood.  Two young people walk over the embankment toward the right.  Because they and several others were walking or sitting around with their personal electronic devices, I had the idea that some were playing Pokémon Go.

In this shot from inside the gap, you can see the wall and the trench inside it.

A group of mounds, and prominent tree, are located around the center of the circle.

Here are some more trees, with the wall behind them.

This shot was taken from inside the circle, looking through the gap at the visitor center.  At maximum lunar standstill, the moon would be rising from this direction.

Before leaving, I had to investigate the statue, shown from a distance in the first picture above.  It was carved rather recently into an old tree trunk, and dedicated to the residents and visitors of Licking County, where all of this is located.

For more on the Newark Earthworks, go to Archaeology, Indian Country, Ohio History Connection and The Ancient Ohio Trail.

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