There were once hundreds of major earthworks built by people of the Hopewell culture, which refers to the moundbuilding groups of Native Americans who lived in North America from about 100 B.C.E. to 500 C.E. But their value wasn’t recognized until recent years, and many were destroyed.
Created one basketful of earth at a time, using pointed sticks and clamshell hoes, the mounds at the golf course are part of the broader Newark Earthworks and widely embraced as an astronomical and geometric marvel.
Once every 18.6 years, if you stand atop the course’s observatory mound and look up the line of parallel mounds toward the octagonal area, something spectacular happens. When the rising moon reaches its northernmost position, it hovers above the octagon’s exact center, within one-half of a degree. The alignments are no less sophisticated than the arranged stones at Stonehenge, experts say.
Members of the Hopewell culture likely intended the earthworks, which can only be fully appreciated from above, to show their moon and sun gods that they understood their movements, said Ray Hively, a professor emeritus of astronomy and physics at Earlham College in Richmond, Ind. The effort might have been an attempt to connect with or communicate with the powers which appeared to control the larger universe, said Hively, who discovered these alignments with a philosophy professor, Robert Horn, in the 1980s.