Who Built The Great Serpent Mound? And Why?

By | September 18, 2018

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The Great Serpent Mound in Adams County, Ohio, built between 800 BC and AD 400. This protected historical earthworks is nearly a quarter of a mile long and represents a giant snake holding an egg in its jaws. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

Ohio seems like an odd place for one of the world’s largest and most mysterious prehistoric, man-made effigies, and yet there it is. The Great Serpent Mound, in Adams County, Ohio, is one of the strangest and most fascinating places on earth and demonstrates the incredible engineering and innovation of an ancient group of people. At 1,376 feet, it is the longest snake effigy on the planet and the design is quite remarkable, especially when viewed from above. But who built the Great Serpent Mount? And why was it built in Ohio? And, more importantly, what was the reason for its construction? Spoiler alert: archeologists don’t have definitive answers to these questions. In fact, trying to answer these questions has only created more questions. 

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Serpent Mound is Unlike any Other Effigy in North America

At a little more than a quarter of a mile long and between one and three feet tall, the Serpent Mound pales in comparison to the Great Pyramid or Stonehenge, but it is no less fascinating. When the effigy was first recorded by European explorers, Edwin Davis and Ephraim Squire, in 1848, their account of the site was published in their book, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley. They noted that the head of the serpent rests on a cliff above a stream and that the body meanders back and forth for 800 feet, producing seven coils. The snake’s tail ends in a tight spiral. A strange feature of Serpent Mound is that it depicts the snake with an open mouth, preparing to eat a large egg. The egg and the serpent are clearly symbolic, but of what?