Sunday, August 14, 2011

Challenges to Claim That Mariemont is Largest Effigy Mound

Let the battle begin!

From The Columbus Disptach Online

Prof claims he’s found even greater serpent mound
By Dylan Tussel
Wednesday August 3, 2011 11:15 AM

There are more than 2,000 ancient earthworks in Ohio, including two effigy mounds. One of them is the Great Serpent Mound in Adams County, the largest of its kind in the world.

That could change if a University of Cincinnati anthropology professor has his way.

Ken Tankersley says a 2,952-foot-long mound that runs through Mariemont in Hamilton County is more than an embankment built by an ancient culture.

He believes the mound, first described more than 100 years ago, is a serpent mound, one that would dwarf the Adams County earthwork.

“It’s a snake,” Tankersley told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

He even wrote a paper published in the journal North American Archaeologist.

But some Ohio archaeologists say his findings are inconclusive.
“A lot of times you had embankments that run along edges of bluffs in places like Fort Ancient,” said Robert Genheimer, an archaeologist with the Cincinnati Museum Center.

“Naturally, bluffs aren’t straight. Is that what we actually refer to as serpentine or sinuous?"

Bradley Lepper, an archaeologist with the Ohio Historical Society, said no, it’s not.

“It looks to be an embankment, more or less, that follows the hill and then ends in an unusual, blobby enclosure,” he said. “I don’t see anything particularly serpentine about it.”

Lepper said if you want to see serpentine, go to Adams County.

“You can show Serpent Mound to anyone and they’ll recognize it’s a serpent,” he said. “The Mariemont serpent that Dr. Tankersley discovered is … probably a prehistoric wall.”

When reached yesterday by The Dispatch, Tankersley responded in an email: “I have no interest in helping you create conflict with a competing news story. ... Regardless of the subject, you will always be able to find an opposing side.”

The Mariemont earthwork is more than twice the size of the about 1,300-foot Serpent Mound.
“It’s a long wall, but ... there are a lot of bigger earthworks.”

The mound appears to function for controlling water, Genheimer said. Because of development around and disturbance to the earthwork, it is difficult to determine how it originally was constructed.

“The present contours don’t reflect the original contours,” Genheimer said.

The other recognized effigy in Ohio is the Alligator Mound in Licking County.

Both are believed to be the work of what archaeologists call the Fort Ancient culture about A.D. 1000.

Lepper said Native Americans likely made animal effigies as shrines to the spirits of the underworld. They were places, he said, where people would bring offerings.

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