• Kevin Zoller

SERPENT MOUND – OHIO'S HIDDEN ARCHAEOLOGICAL TREASURE

In southern Ohio, far removed from any city center, happens to be an archaeological site that few people know about. Here one can find Serpent Mound, the largest serpent effigy in the world.



Ok yes, my picture is not the nicest… but! Here it is in an aerial photo from someone else:


An aerial photograph of Serpent Mound (Photographed by Timothy E. Newark Earthworks Center.). Photo taken from Lepper et al., (2018).


As you can see in the above picture, the snake mound curves back and forth and has a coiled tail on one end while. The other end contains a head with an open mouth that appears to be trying to eat something round.


The snake mound is primarily composed of clay and ash, reinforced by rocks and is covered in soil. It is clear that this mound has been created by Native Americans, however there is still no consensus as to who build it. The two leading theories are that it was either constructed by the Adena culture (800 B.C.–A.D. 100) or the Fort Ancient culture (A.D. 1000–1650). Three burial mounds associated with these cultures were found nearby (two from the former and one from the latter), which have led some to speculate about this (Ohio History Connection, 2020)


There is, however, an abundance of serpent imagery in the Fort Ancient culture (and the Mississippian Ideological Interaction Sphere), and a lack of them in the Adena, which has lead some authors to suggest that it is a Fort Ancient origin is much more likely (Lepper, 2018; Lepper et al., 2018).


Nonetheless, it is a rather interesting structure. I certainly recommend adding a visit to this site if you happen to be road tripping across the US or are an archaeology nerd like me.


How to visit:

3850 Ohio 73, Peebles, in Adams County, near Cincinnati.


References:

Lepper, Bradley T. (2018) On the Age of Serpent Mound: A Reply to Romain and Colleagues. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 43:62–75.

Lepper, BT, Duncan, JR, Diaz-Granádos, C., & Frolle, TA (2018). Arguments for the age of serpent mound. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 28 (3), 433-450. doi: http: //dx.doi.org/10.1017/S095977431800001X

Ohio History Connection (2020). “Serpent Mound”. https://www.ohiohistory.org/visit/museum-and-site-locator/serpent-mound



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