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12 August 2011
Serpent mound could be world's largest

Miami Bluff Drive, in Mariemont, Ohio, USA, curves along beside an earthwork partly covered in trees, honeysuckle and weeds, beyond which is the edge of a wood. University of Cincinnati anthropology professor Ken Tankersley has identified this hump as the remnants of a serpent mound built by Native Americans between 1400 and 1800 CE. It is 900 metres (2,952 feet) long - more than twice the length of the celebrated Great Serpent Mound in Adams County, Ohio.
     "This mound is much better preserved than the one in Adams County, which was largely reconstructed," Tankersley said. "The fact that this much of the Mariemont earthwork survives is miraculous."
     Part of the mound is about 2 metres (7 feet) high - close to the original height of the entire earthwork. Most of the remnants are about 1 metre (3 feet) high. Tankersley believes the serpent mound was built as a symbolic landmark and also as a way to channel water down the slope to the village.
     The area is one of Ohio's most important archaeological sites. The serpent mound abuts the Madisonville site and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Mariemont earthwork. Tankersley is the first person to identify that earthwork as a serpent mound.
     Mariemont Mayor Dan Policastro wants to clear away the vegetation that obscures the mound, and post signs informing people of its historic importance and warning them not to walk on it. "We have to protect this for the future," he said.
     A serpent is an Native American clan symbol. Indian myth tells that a beast called the Great Horned Serpent would eat the sun, adds Tankersley, and the Mariemont serpent's head faces west, where the sun disappears - as does the Great Serpent Mound in Adams County.

Edited from Cincinnati.com (28 July 2011)

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