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13 December 2009
Early Ohioans tracked solstices

On the winter solstice, the sun seems to pause momentarily and then start to come back to peoples living in the Northern emisphere. The winter solstice was an important event in the lives of ancient Americans, and they knew exactly when it happened - probably they felt comforted because they knew then that spring would come again.
     In Ohio, we know that the Hopewell and Fort Ancient cultures knew when the solstice happened because they left behind earthworks and other features that point to the sunrises or sunsets on the solstice. Bradley Lepper, curator of archaeology at the Ohio Historical Society, said two of those features are at the Fort Ancient earthworks in Warren County. "There are two so-called stone serpent effigies in the field below the earthworks. One of the stone effigies is lined up to the summer-solstice sunrise, and the other lines up to winter-solstice sunrise," he said.
     Kim Schuette, spokeswoman for the Historical Society, said, "We are going to have an event called Light up the Serpent at Serpent Mound." Folks will light up the giant snake effigy in Adams County with luminarias, she said. "We will surround the serpent effigy from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Dec. 20." The head of the serpent points to the summer-solstice sunset, Schuette said. "One of the coils in the serpent's tail points to the winter-solstice sunrise. "Hundreds of luminarias around the serpent is kind of magical."

Source: The Columbus Dispatch (6 December 2009)

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