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Archaeo News 

3 December 2006
2,000-year-old road under threat in Ohio?

Plans for an extension of a road in Ohio (USA) are under way, but national magazine coverage has stirred up tension between developers and an archaeologist. Bradley Lepper, of the Ohio Historical Society, said the remnants of a 2,000-year-old road might be present on two 300-acre sites. "It may be the only remnants of what I call the Great Hopewell Road," he said.
     The Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority, a developer of one of the sites, isn't convinced. Rick Platt, executive director of the authority, said he is concerned the story in the September issue of Indian Country Today will dredge up unjustified concerns about the handling of the property. He said the magazine incorrectly wrote the Port Authority has plans to destroy the historic site. He said he fears the recent rash of media attention will create a dangerous precedent in which theories, not facts, can disrupt development. Platt added there was no proof the ancient roads existed.
     Lepper said Platt misunderstands what theories are. He said theories are "scientific instruments" created by sets of facts that suggest their plausibility. Platt said nothing was found after an archaeological survey was conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Ohio Historic Preservation Office and a private cultural resources management firm. Lepper said the results of the investigation haven't been published, and he couldn't comment on the findings.
     After Lepper's suggestion the best way to find the road was to cut cross sections of potential sites, Platt said digging was done. "Nothing was found," Platt said. "If it's 60 miles long and 200 feet wide, then where is it?" If any remains of the road were found during development of the property, Platt said the Port Authority would make sure they were preserved.
     Lepper said there is a good deal of evidence suggesting the road existed. Two parallel walls pass through Van Voorhis Woods, adjacent to Gellar Park, said Dr. Richard Shiels, associate professor of history at the Newark Campus of Ohio State University and Central Ohio Technical College. The walls are on the other 300-acre parcel, which originally was planned to be the site of a multiple-store shopping center. The center's developer, Chase Properties, announced earlier this month the proposed project behind Indian Mound Mall had been canceled. It remains to be seen how developers will handle Lepper's claims the remains of an ancient road could be present on the property.

Source: Central Ohio (27 November 2006)

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