Monday, January 26, 2015

The Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville, West Virginia as a Landmark Oriented to Cygnus the Swan

This posting relates to the Grave Creek Mound and to the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville, West Virginia, which is the largest and most famous conical mound in the USA. Below is a map of that complex together with our decipherment of it, which we explain further below: 

The major bright stars of Cygnus are shown via the superb astronomy software Starry Night Pro (http://astronomy. and their location is compared to the Moundsville Grave Creek Mound and appurtenant earthworks.

We find that the Grave Creek Mound marked the bright star Deneb in a group of stars we today call the constellation of Cygnus, the Swan. The entire complex of mounds and earthworks at Moundsville marked the brightest stars of Cygnus. Neighboring mounds, as shown later, marked nearby stars in the heavens.

Please note that the Swan in past eras was seen as a different flying bird by various cultures. Ancient Greeks knew it simply as a bird, while the Arabs saw it as a flying eagle or hen. Richard Hinckley Allen in Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning examines those and other alternatives. The bright stars of Cygnus so nearly represent a bird in flight that it is no wonder that most cultures have seen a large flying bird at this location, also apparently in Native America.

Two maps of the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex were consulted to make our own map illustration, which may or may not correctly include Lyra:
  • Henry Schoolcraft prepared a map in 1851 (Plate 39) of the Grave Creek area mounds and earthworks, shown as Figure 2 in the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form (March 20, 1990 -- National Historic Landmark). Grave Creek Mound is labelled as the "Large Mound." The Register dates it to 300 to 200 B.C.
  • A modernized ground plan map, apparently based on Schoolcraft, as found at This map would seem to have four stars of Lyra included whereas Schoolcraft's may not. This is not crucial here as Lyra is represented by another mound location elsewhere.
These maps themselves provide the basis for what might be a coincidental stellar similarity. To be of probative value, the Moundsville earthworks would have to fit into a larger astronomical and land survey geographic system, hermetically oriented ("as above, so below"), and we will present that system.

Many people think such mounds in Native America were constructed as burial mounds, which may not be true. We shall show that many of these mounds were originally landmarks, trail markers and land survey points, oriented by stars in sky, perhaps having some related funerary or ceremonial use, originally or afterwards, but not such a use principally. Native America had geographic markers oriented by the "starry night", much as water navigation takes place via buoys and other "markers". Land travel too requires landmarks.

The State of West Virginia proclaims that The Past Still Matters Today and writes as follows about "the Woodland Period" to which the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex is assigned:
"The period is also associated with the use of burial mounds and other earthworks.... The largest extant burial mounds in West Virginia can be found in Moundsville and South Charleston. The Grave Creek Mound in Moundsville was named a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and the Criel Mound in South Charleston was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970."
The start of the "Woodland Period" was ca. 1000 B.C., but archaeologists date the Grave Creek Mound somewhat later to ca. 300 to 200 B.C., which will be an important date for the analysis which follows in subsequent postings.

THIS POSTING IS Posting Number 2 of
The Great Mound, Petroglyph and Painted Rock Art Journey of Native America

The Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville, West Virginia as a Landmark Oriented to Cygnus the Swan

Most Popular Posts of All Time

Sky Earth Native America

Sky Earth Native America 1:
American Indian Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds as Land Survey & Astronomy
Volume 1, Edition 2, 266 pages, by Andis Kaulins.

  • Sky Earth Native America 2:
    American Indian Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
    Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds as Land Survey & Astronomy
    Volume 2, Edition 2, 262 pages, by Andis Kaulins.

  • Both volumes have the same cover except for the labels "Volume 1" viz. "Volume 2".
    The image on the cover was created using public domain space photos of Earth from NASA.


    Both book volumes contain the following basic book description:
    "Alice Cunningham Fletcher observed in her 1902 publication in the American Anthropologist
    that there is ample evidence that some ancient cultures in Native America, e.g. the Pawnee in Nebraska,
    geographically located their villages according to patterns seen in stars of the heavens.
    See Alice C. Fletcher, Star Cult Among the Pawnee--A Preliminary Report,
    American Anthropologist, 4, 730-736, 1902.
    Ralph N. Buckstaff wrote:
    "These Indians recognized the constellations as we do, also the important stars,
    drawing them according to their magnitude.
    The groups were placed with a great deal of thought and care and show long study.
    ... They were keen observers....
    The Pawnee Indians must have had a knowledge of astronomy comparable to that of the early white men."
    See Ralph N. Buckstaff, Stars and Constellations of a Pawnee Sky Map,
    American Anthropologist, Vol. 29, Nr. 2, April-June 1927, pp. 279-285, 1927.
    In our book, we take these observations one level further
    and show that megalithic sites and petroglyphic rock carving and pictographic rock art in Native America,
    together with mounds and earthworks, were made to represent territorial geographic landmarks
    placed according to the stars of the sky using the ready map of the starry sky
    in the hermetic tradition, "as above, so below".
    That mirror image of the heavens on terrestrial land is the "Sky Earth" of Native America,
    whose "rock stars" are the real stars of the heavens, "immortalized" by rock art petroglyphs, pictographs,
    cave paintings, earthworks and mounds of various kinds (stone, earth, shells) on our Earth.
    These landmarks were placed systematically in North America, Central America (Meso-America) and South America
    and can to a large degree be reconstructed as the Sky Earth of Native America."

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