Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Towards the end of the interview, Ben said that questions regarding how we adapt to climate change and its impact on water resources, for example, “are as old as civilizations.”
Referring to my January Archaeology column in which I described the work of University of Ottawa paleoclimatologist Samuel Munoz and colleagues who demonstrated that nearly every cultural transition in the ancient northeastern United States corresponded to a major transition in the climate of the region, Ben said that this shows that Native Americans have adapted successfully to changing weather patterns over thousands of years, which I think should give us hope that we can do the same.
Here’s the link to Ben’s interview on All Sides with Ann Fisher:
And here's a link to my original article in the Dispatch:
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
The Glenford Stone Fort, one of the most remarkable examples of a hilltop enclosure in the state, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but it is not a public park. The so-called fort consists of a mile-long stone wall that traces the perimeter of a 26-acre hilltop with a stone mound in the center. The mound is approximately 100 feet in circumference and 11 feet high. This stone-walled enclosure likely served as a place of ceremony for the Adena and later Hopewell cultures 2,000-years ago.
The walking tour will take place on Saturday, May 21st from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
I will be there to present a short program on Ohio's ancient Native American cultures.
For more information about the tour, contact the Historical Society of Perry County at email@example.com. The hike is limited to 200 people, so make your reservations early. There is a small charge for the program of $10 for adults, but the price includes lunch. Children may attend for free. Proceeds will be used to further the Historical Society of Perry County’s efforts to preserve the fort and to continue to make it available for such programs.
The event will be held rain or shine!
Personally, I hope it shines and I hope you'll join me for this rare opportunity to experience the Glenford Stone Fort! Thanks to the Historical Society of Perry County and Mrs. Elizabeth Cooperrider for making this architectural wonder of the ancient world available to us for this special day!
Friday, April 22, 2011
Founders Hall Auditorium
Friday evening, April 29th
Stonehenge in central southern England is known the world over as an iconic symbol of Europe’s prehistoric past. In this lecture Professor Timothy Darvill of Bournemouth University, UK, will show that while Stonehenge’s origins as a ceremonial monument were conventional enough its later history was exceptional. Key to the transformation was the arrival of about 80 pillars of Bluestone rock brought a distance of around 250 km from the Preseli Hills of southwest Wales to Salisbury Plain. But why were these stones important? And what did they mean to Neolithic people?
Using archaeological evidence from Stonehenge itself and from recent work in the Preseli Hills, and folklore and oral tradition dating back to the 13th century AD, a new picture of Stonehenge is emerging in which the stones themselves can be seen to have perceived magical properties connected with healing. Their re-use in later and ever more elaborate structures at Stonehenge show something of their power and significance and illustrate how the landscape of the Preseli Hills is constructed in microcosm at Stonehenge. People were attracted to the area from continental Europe, and what started out as a local focus became a celebrated place for prehistoric pilgrimage.
After Professor Darvill's lecture, he and Ohio Historical Society archaeologist Brad Lepper will discuss what we know about Ohio's Hopewell earthworks, especially the extraordinary Newark Earthworks, and how they compare with this new picture of Stonehenge.
About Timothy Darvill:
Timothy Darvill is Professor of Archaeology in the School of Applied Sciences at Bournemouth University, UK. The author of over a dozen books, including Prehistoric Britain (2010) and Stonehenge: the biography of a landscape (2006) he has served as Chairman of the Institute of Field Archaeologists, was a Member of the Council of the National Trust, and is currently a Vice-President of the Society of Antiquaries of London. His current research interests focus on archaeological resource management and the Neolithic of northwest Europe.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Sherwood and Kidder observe that unpublished Depression-era excavation profiles demonstrate a level of complexity that usually was not mentioned in the reports. Richard Morgan, Ohio Historical Society Curator of Archaeology in the 1940s, produced a remarkable profile of his excavation of one of the embankments at the Fort Ancient Earthworks that clearly shows the complexity of its internal stratigraphy, yet in his monograph on the site he states merely that the walls "are composed primarily of earth."
The stratigraphy revealed in the walls of Newark's Great Circle is less complicated than what Morgan observed at Fort Ancient, but it's not just a pile of dirt!
DeeAnne Wymer of Bloomsburg University, and I co-directed an excavation through the Great Circle's embankment in 1992. As you may be able to see from the picture, our trench revealed that the wall was composed of two distinctly different kinds of soil. The outer portion of the wall is made of dark brown earth, presumably obtained from the organic-rich upper layers of the soil. The inner portion of the wall is made from bright yellow-brown earth obtained from much deeper soil layers. We don't know whether these colors were part of the original architectural presentation of the earthworks or if vegetation was allowed to grow over them. Regardless, the use of these particular types of soil likely fulfilled an important ritual purpose.
Both the Fort Ancient and Great Circle earthworks are examples of Hopewell culture architecture, built between 100 B.C. and A.D. 400. The Alligator Mound is an effigy mound built during the Late Prehistoric period (A.D. 1000 – 1650). I co-directed a limited investigation of this mound in 1999 with Tod Frolking, a soil scientist from Denison University.
Our trench revealed a small mound of loosely piled sandstone cobbles at the base of the mound covered with an homogenous clay-rich silt. This material may have been poured over the stone mound as a thick slurry, because the material appeared to have sealed the small stone pile preventing sediment particles from filtering into the cracks and crevices between the stones. Sandstone cobble facing was added to the mound at two different times during its construction.
Clearly, the builders of these mounds used a variety of engineering techniques to create dramatic and enduring earthen monuments that qualify as works of art.
Here's a link to my column in the Dispatch with more information about the "DaVincis of Dirt": http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/science/stories/2011/05/01/ohios-mounds-are-works-of-art.html?sid=101
One of the more fascinating native mammals of Ohio is the Striped Skunk. It is known to science as Mephitis mephitis – the word coming from the Latin for “bad odor” – an obvious enough name but perhaps an understatement! But aside from their ability to spray an oily, stinky fluid with astounding accuracy for up to 15 feet – they are real survivors with lots of interesting characteristics. If you can get past their odor, they are really cute animals. For better or worse, a lot of folks seem to like keeping captive bred, de-scented skunks as pets. [It is illegal to take animals out of the wild in Ohio.] They used to be considered members of the weasel family (Mustelidae), but in 1997, Jerry Dragoo and Rodney Honeycutt proved skunks were genetically very different from the other members of the Mustelidae family and belong in a distinct family –now named the Mephitidae.
After a long, cold winter, skunks attract our attention in late winter. Skunks do not hibernate, but will enter a deep sleep during much of the winter. Come February or March, not only are they hungry for food, but this is also mating season. They will leave their dens and roam the countryside looking for mates. The males especially will travel four or five miles a night during this frantic time. While generally active more at night, they may also be about during daylight hours at this time. Their wanderings are so far and wide and so bold that they often end up getting hit by cars more at this time of year than most other times. In mid-February this year I counted five dead skunks on a 30 or 40 mile drive in central Ohio – and I’m sure that is no record. They are often viewed as crazy or mad during February and March – crazy with sex apparently. Skunks, not basketball fans, had the original March Madness!
On March 2nd of this year, I was driving with a friend from Urbana to Columbus and we had seen a couple of dead skunks along the road. I commented that this was one animal I’ve wanted to photograph for a long time, and have never been able to do so. I’ve followed a couple at night when I had no camera, and the few I’ve seen in daylight with my camera disappear as soon as they see me! Their senses seem to be just on par with mine, so that the moment I see them, they see me, and they hide or run for cover instantly.
We had just turned onto Darby Creek Drive near the Battelle-Darby Metro Park, when we saw a skunk along the side of the road. As I drove past, I said that I didn’t think that skunk was dead. Andrew replied, “But it didn’t move,” and I responded, “No, but it seemed to be upright – not laying on its back or side.” I found the first spot I could turn around, and headed back, stopping the car about 100 feet away and grabbing my camera off the back seat. I walked toward the skunk, which was walking toward me - now very clearly alive and alert. It was on the grassy edge between the two lane road and a water filled ditch. Since it was headed toward me, I stopped and waited. With skunks, patience is the wiser part of valor!
When the skunk was perhaps 40 or 50 feet away – it stopped, looked at me for a moment, then started to turn and cross the road. At that moment I could hear a car zooming up from down the road behind me. I’m not sure if I said it to myself, or out loud, but at least mentally I yelled “Stop!” to the skunk. It did, and the car whizzed past. The skunk apparently decided that it might still find a way across the watery ditch further down the road towards me, so it again started in my direction. Then after 15 feet or so it must have decided enough was enough. It went up to the edge of water, paused for a moment, and then swam directly across. It seemed to be trying to hold its bushy tail up a little while swimming, but got it a bit water-logged anyway.
As it left the water, it must have been in too much of a hurry now to get away from me, the roadway and car traffic – as it never stopped to shake off the water. It darted under the white rail fence and into the high grasses and was gone.
It had been one of those magic moments. Being at the right place and the right time – and having my camera with me!
Monday, April 18, 2011
The two enclosures are connected by a narrow corridor defined by parallel walls of earth. Such sacred roads were an important architectural element at many of the largest Hopewellian earthworks, but the walls at the Octagon Earthworks are the only remaining examples.
On Open House dates, you can walk this sacred road following in the footsteps of the ancient people that built this monumental earthen cathedral and the pilgrims that came here 2,000-years-ago to experience the magic of this wonder of the world!
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Lewis Binford is not the reason I became an archaeologist. I had made that decision long before I first sat in Binford’s “Strategy of Archaeology” class at the University of New Mexico. He is, however, the reason I became the archaeologist I am today.
The most important things I learned from Lewis Binford may not have been the things he most wanted to teach me, but I think good teachers understand that some of their best lessons may not always be the ones they intended to convey.
Lewis Binford taught me that archaeology mattered. It wasn’t just a self-indulgent pastime; it actually had an important role to play in helping us to understand the human condition and how it came to be what it is.
He taught me that archaeology can and should be a science; and science provided the best set of methods so far conceived for gaining reliable knowledge about the world.
He taught me that archaeology was hard work. It’s not easy to make sense of the detritus of human behavior in terms of the unobservable behaviors that produced that detritus. And because archaeology mattered so much, it was important not to rely simply on common sense or seemingly self-evident conclusions, which can so easily lead us to where we think we want to be, but are, in the end, untrustworthy guides.
Finally, Lewis Binford offered an exhilarating vision of what archaeology could be. It wasn’t just about stone tools, pottery sherds and subsistence technology. It had the potential to reveal nearly as rich a record of the human past as could be imagined. That’s why it was so important!
He wrote the following passage, which inspired me when I first read it and I don’t think a day of my professional life has gone by when these words have not been my touchstone for why I do what it is I do:
"The practical limitations on our knowledge of the past are not inherent in the nature of the archaeological record; the limitations lie in our methodological naiveté, in our lack of development for principles determining the relevance of archaeological remains to propositions regarding processes and events of the past."
That means that even though most kinds of artifacts rot in the soil after only a few decades and many archaeological sites are destroyed every year due to natural erosion, land development and looting, we can nevertheless know just about anything about the past if we work hard enough to figure out how the tattered remnants of ancient lives we find in our explorations connect with whatever other aspect of culture we care to investigate.
That statement has been criticized, justifiably, for being outrageously overly optimistic.
So what?! Isn’t it better to start with the presumption that you have the potential to answer any question than to neglect to ask a question simply because you imagine it can’t be answered?
Thank you, Dr. Binford, for your optimistic vision of a past that need not exceed our grasp!
Monday, April 11, 2011
This summer significant archaeological research will be undertaken at both places to better understand the sites' purpose and function and/or events that occurred there in the past. Field work is particularly labor intensive and it is often the case that it is preformed during the summer season by college and university students, under their instructor's direction. Many hands make the work go faster. Summer schools offer both a foundation in the discipline of archaeology for the students and a chance for the Ohio Historical Society to learn more about their holdings.
Fort Ancient Field School Uncovers Ancient History
Fort Ancient in Warren County is a hilltop enclosure consisting of nearly 3.5 miles of earthen walls that range from 4 to 23 feet in height. They encircle a high bluff above the Little Miami River near Oregonia. The earthwork walls are broken by more than 80 irregularly spaced gaps or "gateways," the purpose of which is not particularly well understood. Fort Ancient was constructed approximately 2,000 years ago by the Hopewell culture.
In 2004, OHS received a Save America's Treasures grant to do erosion control and restoration at various locations throughout the site. Preliminary to actual construction, affected areas were surveyed with geophysical instruments designed to see what might be located below the surface in a given area without actually having to dig exploratory excavations. The results come back as sub-surface anomalies that can be individually investigated.
In 2005, a series of anomalies in the northern portion of the site turned out to be perhaps one of the most significant discoveries of its type in the past several decades. The geophysical data indicated there was some sort of very large pit feature with a very high magnetic signature at the center of what appeared to be a 200-foot diameter wooden-post enclosure, or henge, with a single out-turned opening or gateway just a few degrees off from due south. Inside the henge there are at least two of what was been interpreted as house structures or perhaps ceremonial floors.
In 2006, Dr. Robert Riordan, students from Wright State University and selected volunteers began an ongoing investigation of what became known as the Moorehead Circle, named in honor of Warren King Moorehead, former curator of archaeology at the Ohio Historical Society and an early investigator of Fort Ancient. In fact, it was largely through his efforts that the state legislature was made aware of the site's importance and Fort Ancient being set aside as Ohio's first archaeology reserve.
The past field seasons at Fort Ancient have revealed that the large central pit was filled with soil burned at a high enough temperature to turn it bright brick red. However, it appears that it had been burned at some other location, scooped up and gleaned of any foreign material, including charcoal, and redeposited in the pit at the center of the circle. Surrounding the central-pit feature is a shallow ring-shaped feature that contains a sizeable number of pottery fragments and small flint artifacts. The henge that surrounds the site was tested in two places and it was found that the posts used in its construction were of a large diameter (up to 12 inches) and placed with fairly regular spacing. Most were deeply set and held in place with up to 200 pounds of stone chinking. The slip trenches used to erect the posts, their large diameters and the amount of stone needed to hold them in place indicates that the posts were likely of a telephone-pole size - architecture on a truly monumental scale.
Work on the interior of the circle begun last year and continuing at present indicates a single large or complex set of smaller limestone slab plazas inside the south side of the circle possibly associated with the supposed house structures. To complicate things even further, it would appear that these plaza features were cross cut by a series of shallow, squared trenches some time after their original construction.
What does it all mean? It is far too early to connect all the dots, so to speak, and it will probably take many more field seasons of work to make a correct interpretation. An area of nearly 35,000 square feet and working just a few weeks a season makes work to understand the Moorehead Circle slow going.
Pickawillany Field School Enters Fourth Season
At Pickawillany, a part of the Johnston Farm and Indian Agency, the rationale of investigation is the opposite of that at Fort Ancient. At Fort Ancient, investigators need to figure out what happened there. At Pickawillany, because several accounts of events that took place exist, the problem is not what happened, but where on the site did things in fact take place.
The site of Pickawillany, a combination Miami Indian town and English trading post from between 1748 and 1752, is located on a low bluff on the west side of the confluence of the Great Miami River and Loramie Creek, just north of Piqua in Miami County. In the middle of the 18th century, Pickawillany was at the eye of the storm in the international geopolitics of the day and events that transpired there were a foreshadowing of what would shortly become known as the French and Indian War. To understand its importance 257 years after the fact, it is necessary to put Pickawillany in its proper context.
Up until the mid-point of the 18th century, Pickawillany and the entire Ohio Country, that is, all that land north and west of the Ohio River and west of the Allegheny Mountains in general, was claimed under the sovereignty of the French. In 1747, Chief Memeskia of the Miami Indians was fully involved in a general rebellion of native tribes against the French. Incensed at the lack of proper tribute, Memeskia set fire to the French trading post of Fort Miamis (near present-day Fort Wayne, Indiana), part of the principal Miami Indian town of Kekionga, and moved his village to Pickawillany where he openly invited the English to trade with the Miami and other western tribes. As a trading venture, Pickawillany flourished. Seeing the potential for French military intervention, the English built a stockade and blockhouse at Pickawillany for the protection of the traders and their goods. The explorer Christopher Gist visited Pickawillany in the winter of 1750-51 and recorded in his journal that it had 400 Indian families and was daily increasing and should be considered one of the strongest Indian towns on the continent. That same winter, the French militia leader, Charles Langlade, arrived to give Memeskia, who by then was being referred to as "Old Briton," an ultimatum to return to the French or else. Memeskia stood his ground. On June 21, 1752, the French militia and Ottawa Indian force stormed Pickawillany. They killed or captured all but two of the English traders, sacked the trading post and destroyed the Indian town. A wounded Old Briton was brought before Langlade where he was quickly executed. After this final event, the site lay mostly fallow for the next 250 years except for farming.
In 1999, the state of Ohio purchased 35 acres thought to contain the site of Pickawillany and incorporated the property into the Piqua Historical Area (now Johnston Farm and Indian Agency). OHS field work began at Pickawillany in 2002, trying to make sense of the property and what the historic layout might have been. Even to the trained observer the site looked a lot like every other crop field in western Ohio.
A comprehensive metal detector survey of the entire property was begun. This type of survey was based on National Park Service work at Custer Battlefield and, more locally, by Dr. G. Michael Pratt's work at Fallen Timbers Battlefield near Toledo. Detector surveys only function as hoped for on sites from the European contact period forward and don't work at all in purely prehistoric situations. The survey netted more than 1,000 artifacts that can be directly dated to the Pickawillany period, including musket balls and lead scrap, brass arrow points, metal jewelry and gun parts. This is out of the several thousand objects that included modern nails, fence wire and the like. The Pickawillany-age material seemed to make up one large and three or four smaller discreet concentrations, which could easily translate to the trader's stockade compound and their outlying work shop areas. From there we used the same instruments used at Fort Ancient looking for anomalies and trends in soil magnetism and electrical resistance. The point is that no matter which method was used the same areas continued to give the best returns.
As a final stage of investigation, a summer archaeology field school under the direction of Dr. Annette Ericksen of Hocking College in Nelsonville will return this summer to investigate the most promising anomalies looking for structural remains hoping to identify just where on the site the stockade and blockhouse may have been located. Perhaps the best case scenario would be to find the dug water well, which by just about all accounts was located inside the stockade.
At both Fort Ancient and Pickawillany, the research will be ongoing for the next several years. Archaeology done properly is a cumulative process and something that seems absolutely off the wall one year makes perfect sense after further work the next. In the end, a comprehensive report will be written and data recovered will allow for a more correct interpretation at each site giving the people of Ohio a better understanding of the people that came before them and events that shaped our collective history.
Visiting the Field Schools
Fort Ancient Field School will work Monday–Friday from the last week in June through the first week in August. Visitors are welcome. Volunteering opportunities are handled through Dr. Riordan and Wright State University. For more information, call 800.283.8904.
The Pickawillany Field School will work Monday-Thursday from July 25–August 11. Because of its relatively remote location, site visitation will be in a tourist group fashion. Tours will assemble at the museum and be transported to and from the site by canal boat. For further information, call 800.752.2619. Volunteering opportunities are handled through Linda Pansing at OHS. For more information email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Post courtesy of http://ohsweb.ohiohistory.org/enews/
Fort Ancient images courtesy of Joe Shaffer. Pickawillany images courtesy of Bill Pickard
Thursday, April 07, 2011
Please pass along this information to anyone you may know who would like to contribute to the Ohio Historical Society by participating in Kroger’s Community Awards program.
Thank you for your support!
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
Myth Larger than Life
The myth of hoop snakes started long, long ago. It was printed as early as 1784, but probably started long before that. According to the legend, the hoop snake can stick its tail into its mouth, forming a hoop or wheel, and roll downhill at high speed to escape enemies – or attack someone. In the attack mode, at the last moment it lets go of its tail and uses the tail as a venomous stinger to assault its victim. One version I heard (obviously much more recent that 1784) was a case where it struck a truck tire, which then exploded!
Micro-Managed, but Real and Stranger than Fiction
Two researchers have recently discovered an honest to goodness, real (no April Fool’s joke) hoop snake. Only this one was micro-managed and down-sized substantially. (Sort of like many people’s jobs and budgets in recent years!)
Alan Harvey from Georgia Southern University and Sarah Zukoff from the University of Missouri recently published an article in PLoS ONE, an interactive open-access journal for the communication of peer-reviewed scientific and medical research (online www.plosone.org/home). They were studying tiger beetles and their larvae at the Cumberland Island National Seashore near St. Mary's, Georgia. Cumberland Island is the largest barrier island off of Georgia's coast and its extensive sand dunes make it superb habitat for tiger beetles, which prefer sandy habitats. The beetle they were studying at the time was the Coastal Tiger Beetle Cicindela dorsalis media which measures roughly a half-inch long as an adult beetle.
What they learned about tiger beetle larvae and their escape mechanisms is science-shattering news. Like most tiger beetles, the larva of the Coastal Tiger Beetle is a small, caterpillar-like or “worm-like” (their term) larva that burrows into shallow sand. When the researchers removed larvae of this species from their shallow burrows, and poked at them with a forceps, the larvae first “leaped” – an action of flipping their worm-like body violently, tossing them a short distance into the air. This may be comparable to the moth larvae that snap its body inside the Mexican Jumping Bean, or the adult Click Beetle that snaps its junction between the thorax and the abdomen, flipping it into the air. While airborne, the larvae loop their body into a wheel and hit the ground rolling. Their rolling is induced by both the downhill slope of the sand, and also by the prevailing west wind, which blows nearly all the time on this barrier island. The stronger the wind, the greater the percentages of larvae that used the wheel-rolling technique, and the greater the distance traveled by them. We are not talking just a few millimeters with these wheeling rolls – some rolls they measured exceeded 60 meters (198 feet)! What an amazing adaptation to escape their enemies.
Unfortunately, there is a down-side to the story of the “hoop snake – tiger beetle.” Harvey and Zukoff noted that the larvae’s wheeling escape is better on smooth, sandy beaches than on beach surfaces made rough and irregular by pedestrian, equestrian and vehicular traffic – which is common place on these beaches. They conclude:
“Like other coastal species of tiger beetles, C. dorsalis media has suffered major declines in recent years that are clearly correlated with increased human impacts. The present study suggests that the negative effects of beach traffic may be indirect, preventing larvae from escaping from predators using wheel locomotion by disrupting the flat, hard surface necessary for efficient wheeling.”
For the entire article, and most importantly, to see the four video segments posted at the end, go the PLoS One website at: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0017746
Senior Curator, Natural History
In 2006 a new and still mysterious disease hit bat colonies in the northeastern United States. White-nosed Syndrome, as it has become known, attacks hibernating bats in caves, old mines and other similar areas – in some cases destroying up to 90% of the bats in a cave. More than a million dead bats are known from this disease, and who knows how many more may have been lost in little known caves. The disease is linked to a fungus – but it is not clear if the fungus itself is the cause, or just a by-product of a weakened animal from some other cause. It was totally unknown before it appeared in 2006 in New York State. Now, White-nosed Syndrome has been detected in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest.
Read the details in the ODNR’s, Division of Wildlife press release at:
Saturday, April 02, 2011
In addition, special programs are being offered that Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. and Monday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Guided tours and educational activities will be offered. Visitors also are encouraged to stop by the Great Circle Museum at the Great Circle Earthworks in neighboring Heath, Ohio, to learn more about the entire Newark Earthworks complex and its creation more than 2,000 years ago.
Additional dates to tour the Octagon Earthworks this year have been set for Tuesday, May 31 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 16 from noon to 4 p.m. Moundbuilders Country Club operates a golf course on the site and has set aside these days for greater public access. While portions of the Octagon are open every day during daylight hours, the open-house dates allow the public to see the entire earthworks.
In addition to taking a guided tour, visitors also are welcome to tour the earthworks on their own, but are asked to stay off the mounds and golfing greens. There are no public restroom facilities at the Octagon Earthworks. Admission is free for the open houses.
For further details or to schedule a group or school tour, please call 740-344-1919 or 800-600-7178.
The Octagon Earthworks is a part of the Newark Earthworks, a complex that is 2,000 years old and at one time covered approximately four square miles. Built about 2,000 years ago by the Hopewell culture, the Newark Earthworks is recognized as a National Historic Landmark and has been declared Ohio’s official prehistoric monument of the state. A nomination of the site for inclusion on the World Heritage List is currently being prepared. Scholars recognize it as the largest geometric earthworks ever created.
Although much of it has been destroyed by more than a century of urban development, the most significant parts remaining are the Octagon, Great Circle and Wright earthworks. Together these three earthworks comprise the Newark Earthworks, one of 58 sites administered by the Ohio Historical Society, a nonprofit organization that serves as the state’s partner in preserving and interpreting Ohio’s history, natural history, archaeology and historic places.
For more information, visit www.ohiohistory.org/newark.
The Newark Earthworks Center is an interdisciplinary academic center at The Ohio State University which studies, teaches about and promotes appreciation for Ohio earthworks. Among other projects, the NEC provides school tours at the Great Circle and Flint Ridge and programming on public access days.
The mission of the Greater Licking County Convention and Visitors Bureau is to promote tourism and attract visitors and conventions to Licking County. The bureau accomplishes this by a comprehensive marketing plan of print advertising, radio, television, direct mail, e-mail promotions FAM tours and a drop in visitor’s information center. The bureau also offers once a year a grant program to their tourism partners to help partners with expenses in advertising to attract visitors from outside a 50 mile radius. In the past 6 years the CVB has awarded over $73,000 in marketing grant money to its tourism partners.
Friday, April 01, 2011
Orchids versus White Cedars versus Tulip Poplars Bob Glotzhober, Senior Curator of Natural History, Ohio Historical Society
Fifty years ago those involved with protecting natural areas and the rare species that depend upon them often thought that all one had to do was to purchase the land, put a fence around it to protect, and leave it alone. Let nature follow its eons-old laws of natural processes. Do this, and the “Balance of Nature” would take care of everything else! Brighter minds, even fifty years ago, knew that setting the land aside was not enough. Most nature preserves, especially in the eastern United States, are in reality "Postage Stamp Preserves". Cedar Bog is only 450 acres and much of that is buffer land to protect it from surrounding farmland and potential development. Once, that area was estimated at 7,000 acres. In such a huge landscape, perhaps most plants and most animals could survive – finding protection in one area if some natural or man-made disaster threatened another area. In today’s landscape, we usually cannot afford the slightest impact on a small, rare habitat without losing that last of an important cog in the wheel that keeps that landscape and its inhabitants thriving. Cedar Bog Nature Preserve is managed by the Ohio Historical Society, with daily operations handled by our partner, the Cedar Bog Association. See these two websites for more information on OHS http://ohsweb.ohiohistory.org/places/nw02/ and the Cedar Bog Association http://www.cedarbog.org/ ). Cedar Bog is one of the most significant natural areas in Ohio, with one of the greatest concentrations of rare and endangered species per acre of any place in Ohio. It is recognized as both a National Natural Landmark, and as a State Nature Preserve. One of the really special plants at Cedar Bog is the Small Yellow Lady’s-slipper Orchid, (Cypripedium calceolus var. parviflorum). At Cedar Bog we know of only seven plants of this orchid – three of those being rediscovered just last spring. While it had been known from two other Ohio locations, it now appears to only at Cedar Bog and one other site in Geauga County, and is State Endangered. One of our two populations, which has four plants, had a couple of Northern White Cedars fall across the top of the site late last spring. While these plants like a mix of sun and shade, the dense, close cover of these cedars could threaten the health and survival of these orchids. So, in mid-March, while most herbaceous plants are still dormant, site Manager Eric Doerzbacher and myself set out to surgically trim several cedar branches and to totally remove one fallen tree. This operation was probably more art than science – as none of the experts seem to know exactly how much shade is enough and how much sun is too much. But after consultation with several of our state’s most knowledgeable field botanists last spring, Eric and I tried to carefully remove just the right amount, while being extra careful not to trample and compact the soil holding the roots of these rare perennials. If we were successful, in a couple of months the orchids will shoot up above the surface of the ground, unfold leaves and thrive in their restored environment. The problem of protecting the Small Yellow Lady’s-slipper Orchid is augmented by the fact that the trees we had to remove are also a Potentially Threatened species in Ohio. The Northern White Cedar (from which Cedar Bog gets its name) is also known as Arbor Vitae, or scientifically as Thuja occidentalis. This is in contrast to the Arbor Vitae that is most often planted around homes, which is Thuja orientalis, an import from Asia. More recently more people are planting cultivated varieties of the native species, an improvement in that native butterflies, moths, beetles and other animals are adapted to the native species and not to the Asian species. At any rate, the native species is known from only ten of Ohio’s 88 counties, and even in those ten is rare – and is listed as Potentially Threatened. Therefore, we impacted one rare species in order to protect an even rarer species. Talk about potential conflict! Actually, since 1987 staff members of the Ohio Historical Society have been cutting lots of Northern White Cedars at Cedar Bog. The Sedge Meadow habitats, which are home to the greatest number of Cedar Bog’s endangered species, tend to become invaded by the Northern White Cedar in a naturally occurring process known as ecological succession. To protect the Sedge Meadow, we had to go in and selectively hand cut out invading cedars. All this time, we were also concerned about the Cedar Swamp woods, as they too are threatened with succession by invading hardwoods, especially the fast growing Tulip Poplars, which thrive on the rich soil and somewhat drier soil, made drier by the growth of the cedars. So, we cut common Tulip Poplars to protect the Northern White Cedars, and cut Northern White Cedars to protect the Sedge Meadows. It all requires careful watching and monitoring of the changes and the impacts on the rarest species and balancing the desire and need to let “nature take its course” with the limitations of a small preserve, surrounded by heavily managed landscapes. Managing a nature preserve, when we study the ecological functions and the limitations of our postage stamp preserves, is really not an oxymoron at all, but an important necessity.