Archive for Ohio

The Reconstruction and Archaeoastronomy of a Hopewell Geometric Earthwork in Ohio

 

by Richard D. Moats

Overview:

The Salisbury brothers authored a paper in 1862 describing several archaeological sites in Ohio. One was an “Ancient Symbolic Earth Works” in Northern Perry County. The paper included a narrative and plot map of a hill top earthwork and three associated features. They recorded linear measurements, angles of intersection, and mound elevations. They described five structures with flat tops which they termed “platforms” and another as an open “C” shaped structure (Salisbury and Salisbury 1862). State Archaeologist Warren K. Moorehead published a short article in 1896 describing the site naming it “Frank Yost’s Mounds” after the landowner. The only significant information he added to the Salisbury paper was finding ash in what he termed the “bird effigy” located inside a large circular enclosure. (Moorehead 1896).

Moorhead’s report did not contain the detail or descriptions of the entire structure as described in the Salisbury document. This indicates erosion and intentional agricultural destruction began in the latter half of the 19th century. Until recently, the large circle with an internal crescent and a small nearby mound are the only features known to exist into modern times. It is obvious the site was a large geometric earthwork similar to other Hopewell sites in Ohio. However, some features and therefore functions are unlike any other known Hopewell site, making this a very unique and important site.

This paper encompasses the rediscovery of lost features, digital reconstruction of the site, and investigation into its functions. I will show how the site integrates distant terrestrial features and offer my research into the purpose of this three dimensional geometric earthwork. I will demonstrate how precise construction and spatial orientation of the structure provided alignments with celestial body rise and set points. I will describe the visual illusions created by celestial body rises and settings in relation to the earthwork and a distant terrestrial feature. I will also suggest hypothesizes for the cognitive precursors for these Native Americans to construct such an elaborate structure.

Site Reconstruction:
The geographic center of the site, 33Pe5 in the Ohio Site Registry, known today as the “Yost Works”, is located on a hill top at coordinates 35°54’02”N x 82°20’31”W in Northern Perry County, Ohio. To the south of site center is an intact large circular enclosure and a small nearby mound both covered by trees and brush. Inside the enclosure on the south interior perimeter is an earthen crescent with a central “bulge” which, when viewed from above resembles an effigy of a spread wing bird. Until recently, these are the only features of the geometric structure known to have survived. Construction of an accurate site plot map began with entering the linear measurements generated by the Salisbury’s into a Computer Aided Design Program, (CAD). Scale and orientation needed to be verified before an accurate reconstruction could be completed. Dr. William F. Romain provided aerial LiDAR, images of the site. LiDAR is an acronym for Light Detection and Ranging. By filtering the digital LiDAR data in bare earth mode, foliage was eliminated and subtle terrain elevations were delineated. (2008a, 2008b. Romain and Burks).

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Figure 1 LiDAR image revealing earthwork features. Image by W. F. Romain, Interpretation, R. Moats

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Recent Scientific Evidence In Light Of Cyrus Gordon’s Theories Of Semitic Inscriptions in America

by Zena Halpern

Originally published in The Midwestern Epigraphic Society Journal, Volume 16

Three sites will be discussed with ancient Semitic inscriptions; two have astronomical evidence validating their authenticity; the three sites are Hidden Mountain in New Mexico, the Bat Creek Stone from Tennessee, and the Newark, Ohio inscriptions.

Hidden Mountain, New Mexico

The Decalogue Stone

At the base of the mountain is the Decalogue Stone in the old Phoenician/Hebrew/Samaritan script. This huge stone sits in a ravine, at the entrance to a path leading to the top of the mountain. There is a striking similarity to the Samaritan Mezzuzot in which ancient Samaritans placed stone plaques inscribed with an abridged version of the Ten Commandments at the doorways to their dwellings. The Israel Museum has two such stone plaques labeled Samaritan Mezzuzot.

The Astronomical Petroglyph

At the rim of the mountain, is a petroglyph with identifiable constellations; Ursa Minor and Ursa Major, Draco, Virgo, etc. Unique aspects of the petroglyph are a solar eclipse between Virgo and Libra (see sketch) and a circles-dot near the constellation of Draco and Lyra. Dr. Louis Winkler, an astronomer analyzed the petroglyph and stated that the two concentric circles with a dot placed at the north ecliptic pole indicated a knowledge of precession.

Dr. Winkler also analyzed the solar eclipse and stated that the depiction of the solar eclipse from Hidden Mountain, New Mexico took place on Sept. 15, 107 BCE (Gregorian) and was at 5:03 PM Local Standard Time at an elevation of 13 degrees above the horizon. Dr. Winkler’s software (Albug) shows the eclipse in Virgo near Libra. Using the Julian calendar, the eclipse is dated to Sept. 18, 107 BCE which correlates remarkably to the Hebrew calendar date of Elul 28, 3654. Elul 28 is the Hebrew month and day preceding the sacred day of Tishri I and the first day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:24) later observed as the New Year (Rosh Hashanah). (See table of eclipse dates.)

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The remarkable message depicted on a rock on the rum of Hidden Mountain shows a sophisticated understanding of astronomical data and observation of an event at an auspicious time in the year 107 BCE, which marked the eve of the day of an ancient observance of the Hebrew calendar.

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Photograph Of The Famous Kettle Hill ‘Mummy’ – The Beginning of the Robert Goslin Legacy

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

Originally published in The Midwestern Epigraphic Society Journal

 

It is possible to argue that Robert Martin Gosling (1904-1964) was the greatest field archaeologist and naturalist in Ohio History. This self-educated genius from an enlightened Lancaster, Ohio family (father and four brothers) was a career field researcher who persevered through all manner of depression-related economic obstacles to compile a record of accomplishments hailed by prominent national scientists. Goslin’s career story will be told more fully in a future issue of the Midwestern Epigraphic Journal (Vol 14).

Typical of the life of this obscure Assistant Curator of the Ohio Historical Society is the fact that he married a woman from LaFollette, TN. This result is testimony to the fact that Goslin was a principal excavator for the famous physicist/anthropologist Dr Charles S Webb of the University of Kentucky, who supervised many of the salvage archaeological digs funded to offset the eventual permanent flooding effects of the massive TVA dam and flood control projects.

In the course of our research on the accomplishments of Robert Goslin, we rediscovered the famous photograph from 1927 shown below. The Goslin brothers were active Boy Scouts and explorers in the Lancaster area. Based principally on experience and archaeological curiosity, they elected to dig in the area of a cave shelter at a place 1.5 miles south of Lancaster called Kettle Hill Cave. Their findings made them famous.

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Bird Ogam In Ancient America

By, John J White, III and Beverley H Moseley, Jr.

Originally published in The Midwestern Epigraphic Society Journal

 

Our interests include many aspects of ancient culture and cultural diffusion. We are inclined to report on specific artifacts found in books and museums that are relevant to our investigations. Waiting for some organized package of data to arise is quite impractical. While surveying books of interest at the State Library of Ohio in Columbus, we identified two cases of bird petroglyphs that may be rebuses for Ogam inscriptions. Examples of each are shown in Figures 1 and 2, respectively, and we make no claim that these artifacts have not been republished by others with the same idea in mind. We have not seen Burrows Cave artifacts with this particular rock art style, although birds and snakes are plentiful. Figures 3 and 4 show two side views of a Bird Mother statue with multilingual inscriptions including some Ogam lettering. Figures 2-4 are line drawings by BH Moseley.

Figure 1 is a wonderful bird artifact having uneven stroke feathers that are comparable with many examples of Ogam writing translated by the late Professor Barry Fell. The suggested lower Mississippi location is exellent for an interpretation of writing by visitors with Keltic and Carthaginian heritage during the Roman era. Dr Peet called this figure a Thunder Bird, but we prefer to recognize the Earth Mother as a bird symbol accompanied by her Earth Father consort symbolized by the serpent.

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Figure 1. This is an alleged Thunder Bird rock drawing, probably from the lower Mississippi River basin (from SD Peet, The Mound Builders. 1903.). Notice the snake figure and the Ogam strokes.

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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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The Reconstruction and Archaeoastronomy of a Hopewell Hilltop Earthwork in Ohio

 

by

Richard D. Moats

Overview:

The Salisbury brothers authored a paper in 1862 describing several sites in Ohio. One of the sites they described was an “Ancient Symbolic Earth Works” in Northern Perry County. The paper included a narrative and plot map of a hill top earthwork and three associated features.  They were precise in their linear measurements, angles of intersection, and vertical heights.  They also described five structures with flat tops which they termed “platforms” and another as an open “C” shaped structure (Salisbury and Salisbury 1862).  Warren K. Moorehead published a short article describing the site and named it “Frank Yost’s Mounds” after the landowner.  The only significant additional information he provided was finding ash in what he termed the “bird effigy” located inside a large circular enclosure. He did not address other large geometric features suggesting some destruction of the site had occurred (Moorehead 1896).   Moorehead’s report did not contain the aggregate detail or descriptions of the entire structure as described in the Salisbury document. This indicates that erosion and intentional agricultural destruction began in the latter half of the 19th century.  Until recently, the large circle with the internal crescent and the small mound nearby are the only features known to exist into modern times. It is apparent the site had been a very complex Hopewell earthwork with features unlike any other known Hopewell site but has been nearly completely destroyed.

This paper encompasses the rediscovery of lost features, and digital reconstruction of the site. I will show how the site integrates distant terrestrial features and offer my research into the purpose of this three dimensional geometric structure. I will demonstrate how construction and spatial orientation of the structure provided alignments with celestial body rise and set points. I will describe the visual illusions created by solar and lunar rises and settings in relation to the earthwork and a long distance feature.

Read more