Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

October 3, 2012

The great serpent mound

Greensburg — Many of you who are familiar with the one-quarter-mile-long Serpent Mound in south-central Ohio, may be interested in knowing that studies show that the effigy was built as many as 2,000 years later than archaeologists previously thought.

The new dates were obtained by the University of Pittsburgh archaeology student Robert Fletcher and a friend who began mapping the site on weekends. The mound had not been scientifically studied since the late 1800s.

Based on human burials excavated in close proximity to Serpent Mound, the effigy was thought to have been built by people of the Adena culture (1000-100 B.C.). However, two pieces of wood charcoal from an area of the effigy that had been undisturbed, yielded C-14 dates of ca. A.D. 1070, which suggests that the structure was not built by Adena but rather by people of the Fort Ancient culture who lived in the central Ohio Valley between ca. A.D. 900-1600 and may have been ancestral to the Shawnee. Archaeologists from the Ohio Historical Society and Bloomsburg University obtained the samples for dating and conducted excavations.

A Fort Ancient village some 100 or so yards south of the effigy also supports a later date as do rattlesnake motifs on ornaments that were worn around the neck. Studies also indicate alignment with the summer solstice and possibly the winter solstice sunrise.

Interestingly, the A.D. 1070 date coincides somewhat with two remarkable astronomical events. Light from the supernova that produced the Crab Nebula reached Earth in 1054 and was visible to the naked eye for about two weeks even during the day.

And Halley’s Comet — that was recorded by Chinese astronomers in 1066.

On a personal note, I will be undergoing an open-heart surgical procedure in a few days and will not be writing my weekly articles for awhile. I jokingly told my good friend Charity Mitchell at the Decatur County Historical Society that I am not sure where I will wake up, and she quickly responded, “Indiana.”

Ben Morris, MA, RPA, is an archaeological and historical columnist for the Daily News. He can be reached at 812-932-0298 or via email at bjmorris1935@gmail.com.                

 

1
Text Only
Columns
  • Spaulding Outdoors: The Inside on Indiana's Outside Nature’s BountyOur daughters were raised in the country and definitely couldn’t be considered “citified” children. Not with Dad around! From the time I was a little boy, I learned there are a lot of good things coming from the wild, and I set about e

    July 29, 2014

  • Word of advice So, what’s the word?Really, what is the word? With over 250,000 words in the English language, you’d think there would be a word for just about everything. Not so. Therefore, I am on a crusade to find a term for some everyday occurrences for which th

    July 29, 2014

  • 9/11 Commission chair scolds Congress for national security failures INDIANAPOLIS – Retired Congressman Lee Hamilton has warned of the perils of political ideology, calling the body where he spent 34 years “noxiously partisan.” Now, he worries the divide is downright dangerous. A co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Ha

    July 29, 2014

  • Brian Howey: Rising up to meet Putin's thuggery BLOOMINGTON – Any illusions I had about the progressive nature of the Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime quickly dissipated when I returned to my Moscow Grand Marriott room in August 2007. Upon opening the door, I was greeted with the spectacle of my pa

    July 29, 2014

  • Pat Smith: A reader's special note Before beginning this week’s column it must be stressed that I love getting emails from readers, love getting telephone calls from readers and love seeing readers when I’m out and about – especially those who very generously tell me that they read th

    July 24, 2014

  • Spaulding Outdoors: The Inside on Indiana's Outside Early Migratory Bird 2014 Season Dates The 2014 early migratory bird season dates have been submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by the Indiana DNR as listed below. The dates are not final until the USFWS approves them, which typically hap

    July 24, 2014

  • Why incumbents get reelected Incumbents are masters at posing as outsiders, when in fact they are insiders who produce the Congress they disdain. It’s no news that Congress is unpopular. In fact, at times it seems like the only real novelty on Capitol Hill would be a jump in its

    July 24, 2014

  • Lessons from the largely forgotten war As we approach the official date on which the First World War started, July 28, 1914, when the first shots were fired by the Austro-Hungarians who invaded Serbia, it’s appropriate to think about the lessons that catastrophic event has taught us one h

    July 24, 2014

  • Protecting Indiana's agricultural heritage With the 4-H fairs in full swing, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about agriculture. Since Indiana became a state back in 1816, agriculture has played a vital role in our livelihood. For those who are not from Indiana, our state is practica

    July 22, 2014

  • Improving Indiana's infrastructure It is always a happy time when my family visits, especially to celebrate a wedding. I recently played hostess for my niece and her wedding party when she was looking for somewhere to hold her rehearsal dinner. I absolutely enjoy when family comes to

    July 22, 2014