New Serpent Mound Discovery Announced August 1: Largest serpent effigy mound was there all along
By Dr. Greg Little
In The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Native American Mounds & Earthworks I wrote that new mound sites were continually being discovered. As an example, in the News section of the June 2011 issue of this magazine we reported that a long-lost mound had been rediscovered in Schaumburg, IL. But on August 1 of this month, several reports surfaced relating that the largest serpent effigy mound in America had been discovered along the Little Miami River in what is today downtown Mariemont, Ohio. University of Cincinnati Anthropology Assistant Professor Kenneth Tankersley first noticed the unusual shape of the formation with satellite imagery in 2007. Oddly, it was his wife who first recognized the shape of the effigy and asked him what it was. Tankersley holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from Indiana University and on his university website writes, “I am an archaeologist interested in ancient sustainable planned landscapes and renewable water resource management systems in the Ohio River valley. My topical interests remain the economic processes of human adaptation to climate change. To attain these ends, I put an emphasis on interdisciplinary field and laboratory work, methodologically focusing on archaeological geology and geoarchaeology.”
The Mariemont Mound was first noted in 1879, and it is part of what was then thought to be an earthwork associated with a Native American Indian village by the river. After his initial satellite find, Tankersley and his wife began doing work at the site carefully detailing its size and shape. In 2008 he published his discovery in the North American Archaeologist where it went largely unnoticed. But in 2011 Tankersley gave a presentation in Mariemont and the Cincinnati Inquirer featured a story on it on August 1.
The effigy is nearly 3,000-feet long, primarily about 3-feet high with some of it 7 feet high, which is the height it is all believed to have been. In essence, it is twice as long as the famous Serpent Mound, found in Adams County. Field study has led Tankersley to believe that the effigy was built starting around AD 1400, by the culture known as Ft. Ancient.