Archive for Fort Ancient

The Serpent Effigy of Lyons, Kansas

by, John J White, III, Beverley H. Moseley, Jr, and Cyclone Covey

Originally published in the Midwestern Epigraphic Society Newsletter, Volume 18, Number 2.


A leading objective of the MES founders was the reporting of new information and interpretations that would lead to a better understanding of Ohio, Ohio River Valley, and Midwestern ancient history.  Thus it should come as no surprise that we view the Great Serpent Mound of Adams County, Ohio as an extremely significant artifact left by the higher cultures of ancient Ohio.  The serpent Mound could be related to the so-called Mound Builder culture, but the exact interpretation eludes us to date.  Corroborative news and interpretation related to our ideas on this subject are thus very exciting.

The figure in the next column is a conceptual replica of the Adams County Serpent, especially with regard to the presence of an egg-shaped object.  This serpent is a 160-foot long manmade soil-depression (intaglio excavation) discovered near Lyons, Kansas (central) in 1917 but only investigated archaeologically after 1980 by Clark Mallam of Luther College in Iowa.  We learned of the Lyons Serpent via an interpretive study made by Joseph Hickey and Charles Webb of Emporia State University.

Mallam trenched for artifacts with little result.  He then made sightings on three nearby earthen mounds called the Quiviran Council Circles.  The alignments were so favorable for equinox observation that Mallam concluded that the ovoid object in the Lyons Serpent’s jaws represented the sun.  It is claimed that this idea is a common metaphor among many Native American groups!  It is suggested that on the longest day of the year, the serpent literally swallowed the sun thereby threatening all life with extinction.  But, of course, nothing visual really happens!

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