Author of the Month

Serpent of the North: The Overlook Mountain/Draco Correlation (cont.)
By Glenn M. Kreisberg, New England Antiquities Research Association (NEARA)


According to Edward Lenik, “Serpentine images carved into non-portable rock surfaces and on portable artifacts were invested with ideological and cultural significance by American Indian people in the Northeast. in his book Picture Rock- American Indian Rock Art in the Northeast Woodlands, Lenik further states “Snakes or serpents are ancient symbols and appear in rock art sites across North America. They are considered to be creatures of great power and craftiness. Among Algonquian speaking peoples, they may have represented evil and darkness or the energy of life or regeneration, or served as vehicles of transition for the soul of the deceased to the spirit world.” Could the Overlook Mountain Petroform function as a guardian of the pathway souls follow to the heavens? Lenik also associates the Algonquin mythical Thunderbird as a guardian of humans against the Great Serpent of the underworld. If the Thunderbird is seen as the symbol of the protection of life, could the Serpent represent protection of the pathway of the dead?

Accounts of Native American stone constructions associated with definite astronomical attributes are not unique. Research in Manitou – The Sacred Landscape of New England’s Native Civilization, by James Mavor and Byron Dix, went a long way toward proving the Native culture of the northeast America built with stone and that many of these constructions were associated with astronomical alignments and observations. This should not be surprising as examples of this apparently geographically diverse cultural practice are well documented throughout the Americas, and in fact worldwide.

Examples of stone serpent effigy mounds exist and have been documented. It has been noted in Boyd County Kentucky, an apparent stone serpent effigy ("a wavy continuous line with snake-like configurations") can be found. Brisbin (1976) was the first to describe this serpent effigy. Sanders' (1991) article includes a nice drawing of the site, and notes that it is "unique for its much larger size, well-defined serpent outline, strikingly bifurcated tail, and associated stone ring, which may represent an egg." (Not dissimilar to the Ohio Serpent Mound). This effigy is said to have a solar alignment in the configuration of the head and tail. Brisbin notes also that the sandstone forming the "serpent" was quarried locally, and that "in the head and coil portion, the stones are regularly piled to a height of 12 feet, but in the area of the body, they are stacked about 4 feet high and 5 feet wide until they thin out in the tail."Sanders gives a little more up-to-date information on the site. It is owned by Ashland Oil, Inc. The company has established a 90 m buffer between the mound and a non-toxic landfill which serves an Ashland Oil refinery. The head of the serpent has been damaged by both pits excavated into the rock by unknown individuals and by the construction of a radio tower access road.

In another example; a preliminary investigation at the Skeleton Mountain site, 1CA157, Calhoun county, Alabama by the Jacksonville State University Archaeological Resource Laboratory (JSU-ARL), begun 2007 states, "Native Americans are the likely candidates for the effigy construction." and further. "one of the strongest reasons for believing the Skeleton Mountain Snake Effigy Site, 1Ca157, and other stone structures are an integral part of the Native American belief system has recently been expressed in a resolution introduced by the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) at the Impact Week Meeting held in February of 2007 in Arlington, Virginia" Referring to 'similar stone structures in Tennessee: "The walls have been radiocarbon dated from AD 230 to AD 430, during the Middle Woodland period. " in Georgia:  "The three dates from the soil within the stone matrix immediately above the original ground surface (Layer 2) ranged from AD 3 to AD 1075 while the soil directly underneath the stones was dated to AD 1101, suggesting the mound was constructed during the Late Woodland to early Mississippian time period. "

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