Monday, January 3, 2011

A chance to add Fort Ancient and the Great Serpent Mound (and other Ohio earthworks) to the World Heritage List

If you've read my blog in the past, you know I love hanging out at Fort Ancient, which is just 15 minutes north of my home. I also love Serpent Mound, and Matty and I visited it this summer when we volunteered at Shawnee State Park. Both of these ancient earthworks are on the U.S. Tentative List for the World Heritage List. The Ohio Archaeology Blog is asking for help and would like Ohioans to submit a letter to the National Park Service and send a copy to Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen.-elect Rob Portman, and your congressperson. From the Ohio Archaeology Blog:

"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to list these Ohio sites alongside other cultural sites of outstanding universal value, including Stonehenge, the Pyramids of Giza and Cahokia Mounds. We need you to submit your comments to the National Park Service and copy your letter to Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen.-elect Rob Portman, and your congressperson.

Comments are due by January 12, 2011. Direct your comments to Jonathan Putnam at Office of International Affairs, National Park Service, 1201 Eye Street NW, (0050), Washington, DC 20005, by e-mail to jonathan_putnam@nps.gov, by phone at 202-354-1809 or by fax to 202-371-1446. Please also send a copy of your comments to George Kane at the Ohio Historical Society at gkane@ohiohistory.org or at 1982 Velma Avenue, Columbus, OH 43211."
For more information, and for a link to a sample letter and contact information go to the Ohio Archeology Blog. Look at the end of the post for the link.


Great Serpent Mound is an ancient 3-foot high and 1,330 foot (nearly a quarter-mile) long serpent earthwork effigy constructed on a ridgetop overlooking Brush Creek in Adams County, Ohio. Here you can see the part of the mound leading to the serpent's head. The grass-covered effigy is 20-25 feet wide.

Even though we visited in July, I've not posted on Serpent Mound because there is so much information and speculation about it, and I never know where to start. I've read three books on it, and continue to read more. Most recently, the mound effigy has been attributed to the Fort Ancient culture, which lived in the area and had a village below the mound from A.D. 1000 to 1550, but Native Americans sometimes reworked older sacred earthworks, so the mound could be older than the current carbon dating of 1070 A.D.

Serpent Mound is built on the edge of a five-mile wide crater caused by a meteorite 200-300 million years ago. The meteorite theory and resulting cryptoexplosion are the most popular explanations and account for the land in the crater being tossed and flipped and turned upside down. The function of Serpent Mound remains a mystery, but just as at Fort Ancient, astronomy plays a huge part in its mystique and the sun's and moon's movements can be scientifically tracked and calculated when measured against the earthwork's structure. The serpent effigy's head is aligned with the summer solstice sunset, and the coils with the winter solstice sunrise.


A memorial plaque with a brief description of the Great Serpent Mound effigy earthwork.


Matty and I were dripping with sweat when this pretty Eastern Bluebird kept a wary eye on us as we walked the trail around the Serpent Mound. I don't know if our imaginations were at work, but we felt a sacredness attached to the land and an unexpected energy. We feel the same thing at Fort Ancient. On our way out, we stopped into the small museum, and a park curator told us some of Serpent Mound's history. He mentioned many believe the mound is a spiritual place and power center, and he's talked to a lot of people who travel to the mound to feel the special energy.


...the reason Mama and Papa Bluebird were so vigilant...babies! We enjoyed watching the parents work hard in their quest to offer the babies an endless supply of juicy and crunchy green things!


A White-breasted Nuthatch also kept us company while we were there. Listening to its gentle call and the dull thud of its bill against the bark as it rooted out insects was soothing.


For a really detailed post about Serpent Mound, see Ohio Archaeology Blog's article, "The Snake's Tale: How Old is Serpent Mound?" They have posted a lot of technical and historical information.

16 comments:

Margaret Bednar said...

The American Tree Sparrow below is AMAZING and you should be so proud! The cubes are interesting and your work on the bird itself... so loving. I'm inspired and need to grab my paint brushes. If I do half as well, I will be thrilled.

The photo of you little blue bird perched on the branch is adorable. I think he wants a portrait done too!

Chris said...

Well let's hope the call will be heard and the mound snake will be save for future generation. I remember several of your posts mentioning fort ancient, I liked them! Beautiful bluebird babies you got around there...

E said...

The paint and birds are great, beautiful, Kelly, have a wonderful 2011 full of great photos and adventures. Salud, amor y paz. Many hugs to all.

Roy said...

Your area is so rich in these sites! That whole Mound Builder culture (Fort Ancient, Adena, Hopewell, etc.) left so much in the Ohio - Mississippi Rivers watershed. It makes me chuckle when people still insist that Columbus or the Vikings "discovered" America!

Out on the prairie said...

Effigy Mounds is a national area in NE Iowa with a group of mounds saved from the plow.I have found numerous accounts about this area, but it still holds a mystery of how and why they were done.This is a favorite place for me to visit as well as explore the Mississippi and trout streams around it.

JKoenig said...

Very intersting....and beautiful picures!

grammie g said...

Hi Kelly...Very interesting post full of information!!
The blue bird is a great picture, make me yearn for spring when they come here to nest!!

Warren Baker said...

Eastern Bluebird - My new favorite American passerine :-)

Wanda..... said...

I'll visit the link and send a letter, Kelly...I live within 15 minutes of Fort Ancient too!

Lovely Bluebird photos!

Montanagirl said...

Very interesting post Kelly. As always, your blog inspires me!

forgetmenot said...

The bluebird photo is wonderful--how you take such amazing shots day after day is incredible. Love the "cube" background on your bird pictures--makes them most interesting.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

How interesting, Kelly.... I would love to see Serpent Mound... I'll bet that you can feel the 'energy' if you sit there for awhile and just concentrate... That is so neat....

I hope the Serpent Mound will be protected forever. We, as a country, need to protect our past.

Love your bluebird pictures.
Hugs,
Betsy

Paula said...

Wonderful capture of the Eastern Bluebird.

Appalachian Lady said...

I have visited Cahokia mound in Illinois and it's impressive but this one in shape of a serpent deserves to be preserved and added to the World Heritage List. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Jayne said...

What a neat thing. Man, seeing all that green makes me feel all warm inside! Won't be long for us, and March will bring new green our way. :c)

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone! It will be neat to see what happens. These two spots are so amazing. I hope they make the list.