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No. 138: NOV-DEC 2001

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A Down Side To Moundbuilding?

The thousands of earthen mounds and walls piled up basketful-by-basketful by Native Americans throughout the Midwest and, especially, Ohio, suggest only simple cultures that raised rude edifices and monuments to their chiefs and gods. But now some anomalies have arisen from below the Midwestern soil. Archeologists got a shock in 1998, when drillers installing a drainage system at huge, terraced Monk's Mound in Illinois discovered that the mound was not all dirt after all. Some 40 feet below one of the terraces they ran into a 32foot-thick layer of stones. Hidden for centuries, no one knows the extent or purpose of this huge mass of stones. (SF#117)

Now, just 3 years later, scientists using magnetic and other noninvasive equipment have discerned a buried circle of "something" measuring 90 feet across. Like the stones in Monk's Mound, the find was entirely serendipitous. The locale is Paint Creek Prairie, Ross County, in Southern Ohio. There are run-of-the-mill mounds at the site but no one supposed there was anything of significance beneath the surface.

(Sloat, Bill; "Mysterious Circle Found Buried beside Mounds," Cleveland Plain Dealer web site, September 6, 2001. Cr. P. Huyghe)

Comment. The Hopewell Culture flourished in this region from about 400 BC to 400 AD. In fact, they held sway from the Great Lakes to the Gulf. Above ground, they left abundant mounds, earthen walls in various enigmatic geometries, and, of course, the Great Hopewell Road running 60 miles long through central Ohio. (SF#127)

Who knows what else a culture of this power and sophistication might have built underground?

From Science Frontiers #138, NOV-DEC 2001. � 2001 William R. Corliss

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