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The Fertile Earth and the Ordered Cosmos: Reflections on the Newark Earthworks and World Heritage (Trillium Books ) (Paperback)
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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.
About the Author
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.
“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