Indian Burial Grounds and Amish Country in Southwest Ohio

08 May 2013

Senioritis has hit me hard these past few weeks. As I post this now I'm in the home stretch of my final exams and then it's off to a summer of freedom!

But last week I was growing weary of my studies and my friend was itching to go somewhere so we hopped in the car and headed over to The Great Serpent Mound in Peebles, Ohio.

Has anyone ever heard of this before? I'm not sure this effigy mound is much known outside of Ohio which is surprising considering that this site marks the beginning of American archaeology  Oh, also the mounds are over 2,000 years old.

The form of the main mound is that of a winding snake with the end of its tail in a tight coil. Its mouth is opened at the other end to swallow an egg shape mound. In height it's a mere 3 feet tall but in length it's 1,370 feet. There is a small tower on the grounds that you can climb to get a view of the whole thing.

To the side there are smaller mounds which have the actual bodies of Native Americans. The whole things is built along a cliff which scientist believe was created by a meteor.

The most mysterious thing about these mounds is, well, everything! Archaeologists have studied the site since the 1800's but have come to no solid conclusion about who built it or why. Of course, I'm sure all these holes have been fun for alien theorists to play with. 

I have my own personal theory behind the meaning of The Great Serpent mound (other than aliens!)

Now, I don't know much about Native American cultures, but in many other cultures serpents represent vitality and the circle of life (snakes shed their skin and are "born" again). As well, eggs represent fertility and life. I think these symbols in combination with that fact that the effigy points at the sun on the summer solstice is sort of a message. "From this day forward, it will only get darker and winter will come but that doesn't mean life won't continue. The spring will come again and we will be reborn."

It's kind of beautiful if you think about the fact that they were burying their loved ones with this symbol. That though they have passed, they lived on eternally in this symbol of life.

After enjoying the lovely afternoon sun we headed over to the Great Serpent Mound Museum which was tiny but has some interesting information about the geography of the area as well a small gift shop. We asked the woman what else there was to do in the area and at first she suggested a hiking trail but, seeing as I was in a short skirt in flip flops, we asked if there was anything else. She suggested going to Amish Country, which, in my opinion, a short skirt and flip flops are only slightly more appropriate.

Just down the road from the tiny town of Peebles is authentic Amish Country. During our trip I realized I really know nothing about Amish people. There are several shows now a days depicting Amish youth rebelling against their upbringing but I've heard that, like much reality tv, it is mostly staged and doesn't reflect actual Amish culture. The Amish we met on our trip all wore traditional clothing and I even heard them speaking Pennsylvania Dutch but at the same time they seemed comfortable using machinery and electricity.

If there's one thing I did learn about the Amish, though, it's that they make ridiculously delicious food! After cruising and enjoying the Ohio countryside, stop at Miller's Wholefoods (960 Wheat Ridge Rd. West Union, OH 45693 ) to pick up some great eats. I could have stared all day at their amazing variety if jams, jellies, and preserves. I ended up getting some beef jerky and colby cheddar cheese and it was delicious (and so well priced!) Step over next door to the bakery as well. The pretzel rolls I got were soo good. So good, in fact, that my friend tried mine then stepped back in the store to buy some for herself.

In all it was a lovely and relaxing little day trip and a great way to step away from my books and catch some fresh air. While it may not have been the most riveting of adventures it was fun to finally see the mounds that I had been taught about in elementary school.

What do you think the Great Serpent Mound represents? 

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  1. I have never heard of the Serpent Mound before. I have never seen a Native American burial ground before. I thought that the burial grounds would have more bear or wolf motifs.

    1. Different animals are significant to different cultures. I feel for a burial ground, though, a snake is much more relevant.

  2. I really want to visit the Serpent Mound! (But, then, half the things on my list of places to visit are interesting archaeology sites. Occupational hazard.)

    I think it's always funny to see how the more we study something, the more we have to admit that all of our theories about it are wrong.

    1. Wow, where are you from? I've never met anyone who's goal it was to visit the Serpent Mound. Or did you learn about it from your studies?