About four miles north of Locust Grove
in Adams County, Ohio
, is an earthenwork
depicting a snake
and a large round object. Presumably built by tribes in the area, white settlers have long wondered what it depicts. Some, like Rev. Landon West of Pleasant Hill, Ohio, interpreted it depiction of the serpent in the Garden of Eden
. He claimed that the oval mound at the snake's mouth represented the forbidden fruit
from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He believed Serpent Mound was created by God, or at least by people inspired by God, to mark the location of the Garden of Eden. In the 1970s, people said it was built to show a snake eating an egg. Why people would do that, no one explained.
However, in the 1980s, scientists began to think that it may depict a seasonal myth--the snake is eating the sun. Researchers have recently found that the outer curves of the serpent align with the rays of the sun at the four divisions of the solar year: sunrise on the summer solstice, equinoxes, and the winter solstice. The snake is thought to represent the forces of darkness and death, and the round hill represents the sun and life.