Last night on The History Channel H2, we had another new episode of America Unearthed, this time exploring the mystery of the serpent mounds. The Indiana Jones of forensic geology, Scott Wolter, begins his journey in Oban, Scotland where his buddy, Alan Butler, shows him a serpent mound near Loch Nell. Scott wonders if there is a connection between this one and a larger serpent mound in Ohio? The Loch Nell example looks to be a classic Effigy mound, shaped like an animal of symbol, made from an esker, a curved gouge formed by glaciers. The Loch Nell serpent mound has burial kists to entomb kings and other important tribal members, as well as celestial alignments of archeo-astronomy for mapping a solar equinox. So is there a connection between this 4,000 year old serpent mound with a larger one in Ohio? Were both made by believers of some shared Pagan religion or is this serpent fascination something to do with the Garden of Eden? Let us find out!

america unearthed mystery serpent mound

Scott arrives next in Winchester, OH and goes to the local airport to meet with Ross Hamilton, a local expert. They board a small helicopter to get an aerial view of the Ohio Serpent Mound. It is about three times larger than the one in Scotland, some 1371 feet long if stretched out to a straight line. A diamond-shaped head does contain some burial sites and the tail-end of the serpent has an egg-shaped design, possibly dealing with fertility. Carbon dating shows that the site is at least some 2,400 years old, but bones have been found even older, including some that were fossilized. Most experts believe the Serpent Mound in Ohio was built by the Adena culture around 400 B.C.. There at at least 15 different celestial alignments, too! These include not only ways to track the Sun and Moon, but also the constellation of Draco! The main difference between the serpent mounds in Ohio and Scotland seem to be in compass bearings as the Ohio serpent mound runs North-South while the Scottish one runs East-West.

The next stop for Scott Wolter is Harper′s Ferry, Iowa where he meets with Dr. Jim Scherz at the Effigy Mounds National Memorial. There are some 200 effigy mounds there, though many have been destroyed. Scherz believes that these mounds were built by the Ho Cunk people, also known as the Winnebagos. They are a tribe of traders and artisans who operated over much of the Mid-West from the Great Lakes and Northern Tier states down to the Gulf of Mexico along the Mississippi River. Some oral legends from their traditions claim that the Ho Chunk may have traded globally with Europe and Asia. Scherz shows Wolter one mound, the Bear Mound, as an example. Again, we learn that this group of mounds also have a function for archeo-astronomy. Scherz also raises the question of whether these mounds may have been built by an earlier tribe, the Plumed Serpent People, whom were known to range from the Great Lakes through Central America? This leads Scott to check out the City of Cahokia near Greenville, Illinois.

Wolter meets with Jamie Young, an expert in LIDAR technology whom Scott has worked with before. The plan is to map the area of Cahokia with LIDAR. Young shows Wolter an example of a 1st Generation LIDAR map and says that the current technology is more than 60 times better. The equivalent of not just seeing a dog but also the fleas on the dog! In the mid-13th Century, Cahokia was a larger city than either London or Paris. It was a very sophisticated, happening place. After the flight, Scott meets with a local archeologist, Dr. Peter Peringe, who is an expert on Cahokia. He tells Scott that the Plumed Serpent People believed in a flying serpent, or dragon. Our old friends, the Aztecs, also believed in a feathered serpent which could fly. The city was abandoned around 1350 A.D., most likely due to over-population draining the local resources, such as wood.

So, as often in the case on the History Channel H2 series, America Unearthed, the mystery of the serpent mounds goes unresolved with perhaps more questions than we began with. Forensic geologist Scott Wolter could not find any direct connection between the effigy mounds of North America and those in Europe. The serpent mounds in Ohio and Scotland may have many similarities, such as being burial sites and use for archeo-astronomy with celestial alignments. But there was no direct evidence of a similar religion, Pagan or otherwise, being practiced by the mound builders. Still, we do know that many themes, such as a Garden of Eden, is common throughout the world. What I found most curious from this episode is how Scott Wolter assumes that if there was a connection, that it was the Indians learning the mythology of Pagan Europeans, and not the other way around.