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The Great Serpent Mound - Peebles, Ohio

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The Great Serpent Mound - Peebles, Ohio

The Great Serpent Mound lies in a small rural community in southern Ohio.

Image © Patti Wigington 2009

Located in the small rural community of Peebles, Ohio, the Great Serpent Mound is perhaps the best-known serpent effigy in North America. It's nearly a quarter mile long, and that makes it the biggest in the United States. The mound, which stands only a few feet high, represents an uncoiling serpent.

It was originally believed that the Serpent Mound was created by the Adena culture, who lived in the Ohio Valley from around 800 b.c.e. to around 100 c.e. The Adena people built two burial mounds nearby. However, recent studies indicate that the Serpent Mound is actually much more recent than the Adena timeline, and is now attributed to the Fort Ancient culture, which was in the area between 1000 - 1550 c.e. Carbon dating of wood charcoal found in a third burial mound has linked the Great Serpent Mound to the Fort Ancient peoples. What's interesting is that the Serpent Mound is unlike any other Fort Ancient structures.

Although there are three nearby burial mounds, the Serpent Mound does not contain any human remains. In some Native American legends, there is a tale of a large serpent who has supernatural powers. Although no one is certain why the Serpent Mound was created, it's possible that it was in homage to the great serpent of legend. The Serpent Mound is about 1300 feet in length, and at the serpent's head, it appears to be swallowing an egg.

The serpent's head aligns to the sunset on the day of the summer solstice. The coils and the tail may also point to sunrise on the days of the winter solstice and the equinoxes. The Serpent Mound is located in a public park, and visitors are welcome to stroll along a footpath which surrounds the serpent. There is also an observation tower, which is a great place to shoot photos, because you can see the entire serpent stretched out. If you get a chance to go, be sure to stop in at the museum, which contains exhibits about the history and geology of the area.

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