The Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park's bid to become a historic park got an unexpected boost Friday when a nationwide vote ranked it the country's top archaeological site.

In doing so, it beat out other 19 other nominees from Georgia to Arizona.

"I was very excited -- and excited about the support we've gotten," said Jim David, the park's superintendent, who learned the news Friday afternoon. "We had hoped to make the top 10."

The results were from a nationwide vote by readers of USA Today, which often features top 10 voting on different topics in its 10Best feature.

The newspaper drew from a panel of archaeology and travel experts to nominate 20 sites initially. David said the Macon-Bibb County Convention & Visitors Bureau notified him about the contest in mid-March, and voting closed earlier this week.

Park representatives got a lot of help in whipping up midstate voting through Facebook and other social media efforts as well as groups such as the convention bureau, the Macon Arts Alliance and the Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative.

The top 10 sites, according to the vote, were:

Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park;

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville, Illinois;

Moundville Archaeological Park, Moundville, Alabama;

Mesa Verde National Park, Mesa Verde, Colorado;

Seminole Canyon State Park & Historic Site, Comstock, Texas;

Poverty Point National Monument, Pioneer, Louisiana;

Legend Rock Petroglyph Site, Thermopolis, Wyoming;

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico;

Wupatki National Monument, Flagstaff, Arizona;

Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Nageezi, New Mexico.

Last month, a proposal to make the monument a national historic park passed the U.S. House of Representatives. The measure would expand the boundaries of the site from about 700 acres to more than 2,800 acres.

The name change would increase name recognition and draw additional visitors, supporters say. The bill also would authorize a study to expand the park even further and include more opportunities for hunting, camping and fishing.

To contact writer Oby Brown, call 744-4396 and find him on Twitter@obybrownGA.

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