Among the most remarkable artifacts of the mound builders are the copper effigy antler headdresses. The most famous of these objects have been found at sites of the Hopewell Culture in Southern Ohio. Warren K. Moorehead documented the discovery of two copper antler headdresses in Mound 25 of the Hopewell Mound Group in Ross County.
One of these was discovered with the remarkable Burial 248:
The skeleton, which was badly decayed, was 5 feet, 11 inches long. Associated with it were some very remarkable objects. At the right shoulder lay a large platform pipe and a beautiful agate spear-head. A copper plate lay on the breast, and another on the abdomen, while a third lay under the hips…Cut, sawed and split bears’ teeth covered the chest and abdomen, and several spool-shaped ornaments and buttons of copper were found among the ribs. The body had apparently been dressed in a cloth garment, extending from the neck to the knees, upon which had been sewn several thousand beads, some of pearl and others of shell. Upon the skirt of the garment had been sewn some of the largest and most beautiful pearl beads found in any of the mounds, together with bears’ teeth, etc. The head had been decorated with a remarkable head-dress of wood and copper…The mass of copper in the centre was originally in the form of a semi-circle reaching from the lower jaw to the crown of the head…The antler-shaped ornaments were made of wood encased in sheets of copper, one-sixteenth of an inch thick. They originally had four prongs of nearly equal length. (Warren K. Moorehead, The Hopewell Mound Group of Ohio, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, 1922.), p. 107
The newspapers of the 19th and early 20th centuries sometimes misreported these discoveries as “skeletons with horns”, and these faulty accounts have been routinely reprinted in recent years, causing some to believe that literal horned giants were found in some of the mounds. Although there were no horned giants, the antler headdresses are fascinating objects, and their true meaning and purpose will be explored in the upcoming sequel to Ages of the Giants.
For detailed photograph of Mound 25 artifacts, click here.
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