Daily Distraction: Observe the summer solstice at Serpent Mound

Ohio History Connection partners with the Shawnee Tribe and the Eastern Shawnee of Oklahoma for a weekend of events at Serpent Mound in Adams County.

Joel Oliphint
Columbus Alive
Serpent Mound

According to a recent article co-authored by Brad Lepper, archaeology curator at Ohio History Connection, and Ben Barnes, chief of the Shawnee Tribe, Serpent Mound is "the most widely recognized effigy mound in the world." It's also in Adams County, Ohio, less than a two-hour drive south from Downtown Columbus. 

As Lepper and Barnes note, there is some disagreement over how old Serpent Mound is, and who built it. "We think the available evidence supports a Late Precontact period age of around AD 1100, whereas some other archaeologists think it was built at around 300 BC during the Early Woodland period," they write. 

Regardless, the serpent's head, which contains an oval shape that could be an egg or its eye or mouth, is aligned to the setting sun on the summer solstice. (Many ancient Native American mounds have cosmic connections, like the lunar alignments of Newark's Octagon Earthworks.) To mark the solstice, Ohio History Connection partnered with the Shawnee Tribe and the Eastern Shawnee of Oklahoma for a weekend of programming at Serpent Mound.

From Friday, June 18, through Sunday, June 20, Shawnee Chief Ben Barnes and Chief Glenna Wallace of the Eastern Shawnee will speak at the site, along with archaeologists from Ohio History and the National Park Service. Presentation days and times are listed below. Also, according to Ohio History, the solstice often brings a crowd to Serpent Mound, so capacity and parking, which costs $10, is limited. (All funds directly support Serpent Mound.)

Friday, June 18

5:30-7 p.m.

Saturday, June 19

10:30 a.m.-noon

2-3:30 p.m.

5:30-7 p.m.

Sunday, June 20

10:30 a.m.-noon

2-3:30 p.m.

5:30-7 p.m.