Fight Underway To Save Ancient Earthworks

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UPDATED: Monday March 17, 2014 6:35 PM

The fight is now on to save an ancient example of this work.

In a landscape blanketed by farmland, nothing about this Chillicothe property stands out. And preservationists call that a travesty.

"While it has been farmed and plowed for 200 years, there is still significant archaeology there. The earthworks are still there," said US Parks Service Ranger Tom Engberg.

In this case, it's what lies beneath that tells the story of this land, and its earliest inhabitants.

"It is a part of Hopewell culture from 2,000 years ago," said Engberg.

Engberg works at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Ross County.

These ancient Indian Mounds have been reconstructed and restored and have yielded treasures of time gone by.

"These earthworks they were geometric enclosures, huge circles, squares and octagons,” he said "We know that these were gathering places for these people, these Indians."

Some of these earthworks were plowed under by the blade of progress.

Such was the fate of Chillicothe's Junction Group, named for its location at the junction of the Paint and North Fork Creeks.

It's been privately owned farmland for centuries.

But modern technology has allowed archaeologists to rediscover the Junction Group.

"They're still there,” said Engberg. “And it's pretty amazing stuff to be able to see that below the surface. Because if you go out there and you look, you're not going to see anything with the naked eye.  But if you look at the magnetometry and all the other data, it shows that they're still there and they're actually pretty perfect when you look at them."

Three weeks ago came news that the land over the Junction Group was going on the auction block, representing the first and last opportunity to save the earthworks below.

"It's right on the outskirts of town. It definitely will be housing if we don't do something about it."

Aaron Rourke with Rivers Unlimited is part of a coalition of groups scrambling to raise money to buy the land.

They only have until Tuesday.

"Are we going to allow another earthwork to be obliterated?” Rourke said. “We've all heard these stories in the past and thought, ‘why did the previous generation allow that to happen?’ Now we're here, and it's time to act."

The conservancy groups trying to save the Junction Group hope to raise $550,000 to purchase and preserve the land.

In three weeks, they've raised nearly $200,000. The land hits the auction block Tuesday night.

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