Thursday, July 23, 2009

Alligator Mound: Ohio

The Alligator Mound of Granville, Ohio, USA

High upon a bluff, overlooking the Racoon Valley, lies one of two effigy earthmounds that we know exist in Ohio. As this report goes on, it will become obvious that there may have been others, but like so many native American earthworks and endeavors, they have become car parks, plowed land, and housing developments.

I have just moved to Ohio, and this is the firt bit of history that I have been able to visit in person. (Astral projections don't count because I can't take me camera with me) Anyways, I am writing this as an international exchange of information, since I believe we cannot understand any ancient work without adding a human element to the archeology, and I also believe that many ancient peoples were probably just regular joes, and we should tryu to view ancient monuments through their eyes.

As I mentioned, the Alligator mound lies high on a bluff... probably the highest bit of land around, and offers spectacular views of the valley. It is probably not an alligator, by the way, but Europeans named it that after the Native Americans told them the creature was a 'vicious water creature that ate people'. The mound is only 4 to 6 feet high at it's height, and at 200 feet long, is hard to see from the ground in all it's glory. In England, many burial mounds were built on the top of hills so that their chalky sides could be viewed from far away, and serve as boundary markers on the horizon. Here, from the bottom of the mound, the earthworks do make a bump across the top, but not a big one, and without your white chalk only serve as a mysterious silhoutte.

Why build a mound in the shape of an animal that only the gods could see? Well, perhaps that's the point. There is no evidence of this being a burial mound, and that weird bump from the Alligators side seems to stand out, so it is suggested that this was a ceremonial site. What kind of ceremonies were performed here is not known, but we do know that Native Americans had their gods based on Nature, and so it is no surprise that they would have performed significant acts here on the top of a mountain, perhaps during a glorious sunset (speculation on my behalf, but this is big sky country, and the sunsets from this point would always have been fabulous).

A few miles down the hill and road is a very large ancient city made of many earthworks, including a large circle. All of this is now a country club, where the well-to-do can golf upon these ancient walls and parapets, but the early native Americans lived here. I'm not sure if they built the alligator mound, since several ancient cultures overlap here, but if so, it can be argued that they climbed that very steep hill on special occasions to do their stuff.

All over this land are farms that are slowly giving way to housing developments and shopping centers. The ancient cultures of the Hopewell, Adena, and Fort Ancient peoples were here for thousands of years. In the last 200 years or so, people have managed to plow over, bury, and basically destroy earthworks, burial mounds, and who knows what else? Looking at the Alligator mound, it is easy to see that other effigy mounds could easily have been overlooked of their significance, and cast aside in the name of progress.

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Travelling One Way...

I guess the ultimate travel would have to be a one way trip, if you see travel as a way of exploring new places and learning new customs. As you may have gathered, I have recently undertaken a journey to Columbus, Ohio, for an indeterminate amount of time!

Day 2 in the new house: Our furniture arrives tomorrow, and our belongings, enough to fill one van, are scattered about in a house much larger than the one we left. Going from a ranch to a two story sounds great until you awake in a house with no curtains and blinds and can't remember where you're clothes are! Trust me, the stairs get real old when you're running about from suitcase to suitcase looking for a pair of shorts, wondering why you were so daft as to leave each suitcase in a different corner of the house.

The 'decency' scramble over, you find yourself wishing for at least one chair to sit down in as you catch your breathe. Standing all day yesterday was new and exciting, but today you'd trade two pints of blood for a box to sit on, or a folding chair. At least we have a fireplace to sit down on, if we take turns, and mind the sharp edges.

Next up you wish Target had stayed open later, as it was ten o'clock the night before that they informed you that they were sold out on the coffee maker you wanted, and that there was no time to run to another store. Target also doesn't sell chairs, and the only nightlights are priced as family heirlooms, not practical items.

Did I mention that we don't have a washer or dryer yet? The quality of life is going to drop steadily as each day passes without a place to wash clothes! And did I mention there are no screens in the house! If we want fresh air, we'll have to share it with the mosquitoes...

At least the new fridge has an automatic water and ice dispenser, so dehydration is one thing we don't need to worry about. And we know where the grocary store is, but without plates and silverware, we're seeing enough local restaurants to write a Diner's Guide to Local Eating.

Amidst all this chaos, the doorbell rings. It's the nice couple from next door, with a bevy of beach chairs. They saw us fighting over the back step as a place to sit and eat breakfast, and came to help keep the peace. :0)

Good neighbors... what to look for when you buy a house. :0)

Cheers, JOHN :0)