Tire tracks lead almost to the top of this ancient burial mound at Serpent Mound in Adams County. The vandalism occurred late July 4 or early July 5. Anyone with information should call the Adams County Sheriff’s Office at (937) 544-2314. (HCP photos by Colin Ryan.)
Tire tracks lead almost to the top of this ancient burial mound at Serpent Mound in Adams County. The vandalism occurred late July 4 or early July 5. Anyone with information should call the Adams County Sheriff’s Office at (937) 544-2314. (HCP photos by Colin Ryan.)

By Rory Ryan
The Highland County Press

LOUDEN – The Adams County Sheriff’s Office is investigating property damage that occurred over the Fourth of July weekend at Serpent Mound off state Route 73.

Serpent Mound is an internationally known National Historic Landmark built by the ancient cultures of Ohio.

Park Manager Tim Goodwin told The Highland County Press on Sunday, July 5 that sometime between 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 4 and 8:45 a.m. Sunday, July 5, someone drove a vehicle – possibly a pickup truck – over a burial mound and through a wooded area that is off limits to cars and trucks.

“It looks like someone was ‘joy-riding’ Saturday night,” Goodwin said. “There’s no permanent damage. It will take some work to restore everything.”

Goodwin said the Adams County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident. The recent installation of security cameras within the park should help in the investigation, Goodwin said.

Anyone with information should call the Adams County Sheriff’s Office at (937) 544-2314.

Serpent Mound is an effigy mound (a mound in the shape of an animal) representing a snake with a curled tail.

There are three burial mounds – two created by the Adena Culture (800 BC-100 AD), and one by the Fort Ancient Culture (1000-1650 AD) – within the park.

According to the park’s website, “In the late 19th century, Harvard University archaeologist Frederic Ward Putnam excavated Serpent Mound, but he found no artifacts in the Serpent that might allow archaeologists to assign it to a particular culture. Based largely on the nearby presence of Adena burial mounds, later archaeologists attributed the effigy to the Adena culture that flourished from 800 B.C. to A.D. 100. This theory on the site’s origin was accepted until a 1991 site excavation used radiocarbon dating to determine that the mound was approximately 900 years old. This would suggest the builders of the Serpent belonged to the Fort Ancient culture (A.D. 1000-1500). In 2014, another team of archaeologists presented new radiocarbon dates for the Serpent suggesting it was built by the Adena culture at around 300 B.C.

The significance of Serpent Mound and other ancient Ohio earthworks has garnered international attention. In 2008, Serpent Mound and eight other Ohio earthworks were selected by the United States Department of the Interior for inclusion on the United States’ Tentative List of sites to be submitted to United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization for inscription on the prestigious World Heritage List.

Serpent Mound is managed locally by the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System.

For more information, go to https://www.ohiohistory.org/visit/museum-and-site-locator/serpent-mound.