Magazine article Newsweek

Lunar Eclipse

Magazine article Newsweek

Lunar Eclipse

Article excerpt

Byline: Debra Weiner

If you didn't know any better, you might mistake the Newark Earthworks in southern Ohio for the product of some giant celestial spirit who went crazy with an Etch A Sketch. The Earthworks (or what's left of them) are actually a series of huge geometric mounds that anthropologists believe were created two millennia ago by ancestors of Native Americans called the Hopewell people. The most significant feature still standing is known as the Octagon, which has 550-foot-long earthen walls and a footprint big enough to hold four Roman Colosseums. The structure is connected, via two parallel embankments, to a perfect, 20-acre circle. Together the two shapes form a sophisticated astronomical observatory--scientists have discovered that the structure is precisely aligned with the 18.6-year lunar cycle's northernmost moonrise. The residents of Newark will tell you that it is also precisely aligned with the ninth fairway at the private Moundbuilders Country Club.

In fact, the Earthworks have become something of a dwarf star within the golf course's universe. Carts zip over sacred embankments. A cherished mound doubles as the ninth tee. The Earthworks are a National Historic Landmark, and they are under consideration for the UNESCO World Heritage list of cultural and natural wonders. But if you want to see them--well, you're too late. During the golf season, everyone but club members is kept out, except on four visiting days--the last one of the year was Oct. 18--or on Monday mornings, when maintenance crews in biohazard suits spray pesticides and fertilizer. "If we had a Great Pyramid," says Newark Mayor Bob Diebold, "would we have turned it into a water slide?"

Let's not condemn the duffers so fast. The club, which since 1910 has occupied the Octagon and covered all maintenance costs, is widely credited with preventing the place from being plowed under. …

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