This effigy mound does not look like an "Alligator" per se, In theory, its name may come from a Native American tale about an "under-water" panther, or at least of a dangerous underwater creature. That description alone could bring up thoughts of an alligator. The shock of seeing something so ancient made into a cul de sac should be reason enough to take a look.
Backstory and Context
Alligator mound is known as an Effigy Mound meaning it is not a burial mound but represents an animal or person carved from or made from some material such as stone or earth. A more correct term that can be used is that it is a Zoomorphic geoglyph. The true and ancient history of the mound is unknown. Several radiocarbon dating trials have been performed on excavated pieces from the mound. The most consistent time frame that has been acknowledged is between AD1170-1270. The peoples that lived during this era are known as the Fort Ancient culture (c. AD 1000-1550) there is strong evidence that suggests the Serpent Mound, the only other effigy mound known to exist in Ohio, was also made by the Fort Ancient culture.
Another line of thought is that many sites that have mounds, earthworks, and evidence of large living centers are palimpsest in nature meaning they have been inhabited since ancient times. The mound itself is located on the north side of Raccoon Creek valley between Granville and Newark in central Licking County Ohio. The archaeological landscape of the valley shows evidence of occupation from Paleoindian through the historic period. The positioning of the mound follows suit with the majority of all known mounds and earthworks being located near a water source.
Effigy mounds are rare in Ohio, common in the upper Mississippi Valley and prevalent in some western states such as Wisconsin. Giving some credence to the belief that the prehistoric peoples had an extensive trade route established and used the rivers to their full advantage. Many other known sites of habitation have contained materials that could not have gotten there in any other manner.
The Alligator mound is more than 200 feet long, and it four to five feet high at its highest points. The mound was almost destroyed in the 1840s due to quarrying operations in the area. The owner of the quarry agreed to stop the project, but the mound was used as a pasture for several years. Interest in preserving Alligator mound didn't begin until the 1970s when it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. The mound is now owned by the Licking County Historical Society and is preserved as a small park for the community.
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Tod A. Frolking, Bradley T. Lepper. Aligator Mound: Geoarchaeological and Iconographical Interpretations of a Prehistoric Effigy Mound in Central Ohio, USA. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 13:2, 147–67 © 2003 McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.
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