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Ft Ancient Stone Serpent

by Jim Leslie

Two small stone serpent effigies laying on the ground in the valley on the west bank of the mighty Miami River at itís junction with SR 350 seem meager in comparison to the great stone-walled Fort Ancient edifice hovering above it, to the east just across the river. So they were ignored by those in awe of the great fort and in their haste to solve its mystery.

Dr. John White of Youngstown State University is credited with their discovery. From 1981 through 1983 he excavated Kern # 1 site with the help of his university students and teens from the nearby YMCA Camp Kern. Kern # 1 is over 80 feet in length of irregular width and height but mostly straight with a discernible head and tail1. Radio-carbon dating is circa AD 1200 making it fall into the Fort Ancient Culture time period.

In 1985 Dr. White excavated the other effigy, the nearby Kern # 2 that lays in the tree line of the Miami River. This effigy is of uniform 8-10 inches in height, 18-24 inches in width and over 109 feet in length. Like its counterpart the serpent is relative straight but with consistent, shallow sinusoidal undulations2. Both sites are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. MES made two trips here this summer, April 9 and July 2.

Kern # 1, now reburied, is an astronomical alignment marker for the Summer Solstice and Kern # 2 is the marker for the Winter Solstice. This chart summarized these solar events.

March
21or22
Spring
Begins
Vernal Equinox
= equal nights
June
21or22
Summer
Begins
Summer Solstice
= "Sun still"
Longest
Day
KERN # 1
Sept
21or22
Autumn
Begins
Autumnal Equinox
= equal nights
Dec
21or22
Winter
Begins
Winter Solstice
= "Sun still"
Longest
Night
KERN # 2
  1. Waubonsie Valley High School Planetarium web page., http://planetarium.ipsd.org/amateur-astonomy_solstice.htm
  2. Youngstown University web page referencing a weekly column appearing in the Columbiana County Morning Journal Newspaper. http://cc.ysu.edu/Physics-astro/starlady/sept222002.html

View of stone serpent with head
in foreground

View from tail in the foreground back to the head

Closeup of the "tail". Big Miami River,
top right.

Roberta & Bill Conner, Beverley Moselely & Ken Zimmerman.

l-r: Jack Burgess, Bill Barr.

Ken Zimmerman, Jim Leslie & Beverley Moselely.