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OHIO, THE SITE OF THE GARDEN OF EDEN.
THE SERPENT MOUND. THE HOME OF ADAM AND EVE.
THE THEORY OF REV. LANDON WEST.
[The following article is not exactly archaeology nor history though it contains something of each. " It is, however, so unique and entertaining that we reproduce it as it has been given to the public in the daily press.]—Editor.
Here is food for the "higher critics," the Egyptologists, archaeologists and the Biblical students of all classes. The Garden of Eden, it seems, is now definitely located. The site is in Ohio, "Adams" county, to be more precise. The discoverer is the Rev. Mr. Landon West of Pleasant Hill, also in Ohio.
The famous Serpent Mound of Ohio is the key to the whole discovery, according to the New York Herald. No object that has ever been discovered possesses for archaeologists such intense and varied interest as this curious earthwork. Since 1849, when it was first accurately surveyed by Messrs. Squire and Davis, it has been a Mecca for archaeologists from all parts of the world. Volumes have been written about it, and every theory conceivable by the mind of man has been advanced as to the purpose of the vast work. Now, it has a new and vivid interest.
It has been called a shrine and an alter, a cemetery and a place for worship, it has been shown to be an idol and a place where human beings were sacrificed — all to the perfect satisfaction of the learned persons making the various guesses.
The character of this mound is so unique and totally different from any of the other remains of earthworks left by the so-called Mound Builders that every utterance made in relation to it instantly attracts the notice of the scholars. Professor Putnam of Harvard university prepared an exhaustive account of the mound and gave his theory as to its significance. It was through his efforts that the mound was saved from total destruction. In 1887 he visited it for the first time and was powerfully impressed with its tremendous significance. He impressed the college authorities with the value of the mound, and later it passed into the possession of the college. Later in 1889, it was formally presented by Harvard college to the State Archaelogical and Historical society of Ohio.
Professor Putnam conducted extensive explorations in the hope of learning the true character and significance of the work and made examinations which revealed something of the great age of the mound. It is held by some that undoubtedly it was old before the Chinese wall was built and that it was finished and disintegrating when the children of Israel slaved in Egypt. It is also probable, judging from the condition of the soil that covers the figure, that it was part of the "things universal" that were overwhelmed by the flood.
The Rev. Landon West of Pleasant Hill, O., a prominent and widely known minister of the Baptist church, has just outlined a theory concerning the creation and significance of the mound widely different from all those of the scientists. He believes that the mound itself was created by the hand of the Creator of the world, and that it marks the site of the Garden of Eden. I le believes that the mound is purely symbolical and has no significance relative to the religion or worship of any race of men, but is intended to teach by object lesson the fall of man and the consequences of sin in the Garden of Eden.
The Rev. Mr. West was born and lived to manhood near the mound. Early in life he conceived the idea that the mound was not an object of worship nor a place of sacrifice, nor for interment, nor yet a spot where the tribes of the earth came together to discuss the affairs of the primitive nations. He conceived it to be a mighty object lesson to give expression to some great event that had occurred in the history of mankind. If intended for an object lesson, its meaning was too plain and palpable for discussion or argument. Plainly it was meant to illustrate the "first sad event" in the Garden of Eden, the deception of the woman by the serpent, and man's subsequent expulsion from the Garden and all the attendant ills of sin, pain and death. All of these, he maintains, are adequately expressed by this Serpent Mound.
The jaws of the serpent are wide open, as if in the act of swallowing the oval-shaped fruit there situated. The Rev. Mr. West declares that it represents the fruit with which Satan beguiled and tempted Eve. It is a very good representation of a gigantic plum or lemon or some such fruit as grows upon a tree. The Bible refers to the fruit of the tree with which Satan, that old serpent, did tempt Eve by telling her it was good to eat. How could this very idea and circumstance of deception be better represented on the part of a serpent, inquires this scholar, than to show it in the act of itself eating fruit, when it is well known that serpents do not eat fruit? The Rev. Mr. West maintains that the situation of this oval object, which scientists term an altar, at the wide open jaws of the serpent would appear to deny their claim that it is an altar. Reason indicates a contrary theory; that the open jaws were meant to betray the purpose of the serpent to swallow the fruit. Else why should the jaws be open? The only meaning of the open jaws, he asserts, is to show the intention of the serpent to swallow the fruit. This portion of the mound represents the deception ; the writhings and twisting of the body indicate the pangs of death and physical suffering.
It would seem that this perplexing and mysterious image was created to express an idea, and is, therefore, purely symbolical. What it symbolizes can be surmised only from the image itself and any supporting history that may be found. If it be conceded that the serpent mound is symbolical of man's fall in the Garden of Eden, and the Rev. Mr. West, after years of study, is confident that it expresses no other lesson, then the question arises, how did this prehistoric race obtain knowledge of that event?
The Rev. Mr. West arrives at the conclusion that this great work was created either by God himself or by man inspired by Him to make an everlasting object lesson of man's disobedience, Satan's perfidy and the results of sin and death. In support of this startling claim the Rev. Mr. West quotes Scripture and refers to Job 16:13: "By His spirit. He hath garnished the heavens; His hand hath formed the crooked serpent."
He also applies the discoveries of Professor Putnam to establish his theory. Professor Putnam learned that the depth of soil on the image was equal to that covering the surrounding country and was of similar properties and composition. This important discovery justified the statement that the work itself had been created prior to the formation of the soil which now covers the earth. This discovery, however, by no means fixes the time of the serpent's creation. It merely establishes the fact that the soil covering the image had never been disturbed by the hand of man. The tremendous ridge which constitutes the superstructure, if it may be so called, must have been formed long before the beginning of the slow process of the soil formation by nature in her never ending task of creation.
That the mound is co-existent with the hills and valleys that surround it and make the vicinity a veritable paradise of beauty is not claimed by the Rev. Mr. West. But the scientists have shown that it is older than the soil that gives life to the trees and verdure, and therefore, according to general belief, it must have been washed by the waves of the flood, since the agent removed the antediluvian soil from its resting place. The Rev. Mr. West does not claim that the image was created in the day when the world was made, but subsequently, when the Creator desired to place before the eyes of mankind an object lesson expressive of the power and wiles of Satan as manifested in the Garden of Eden, and at the same time and in the same image to portray the pains and penalties of sin and the enduring pangs of death.
The noble dimensions and perfect proportions of this majestic figure suggest to his mind the hand and intelligence of a divine Creator with limitless resources. It is on a high ridge or rocky cliff that thrusts itself into the peaceful and lovely valley like the prow of some mighty ship into a calm sea. The ridge points to the north and extends back into a smiling land suggestive of peace, happiness and security. The head of the serpent lies upon the point of rock and the winding coils of the body reach back a thousand feet to the south, where the tail terminates in coils thrice repeated. The oval object, representative of the forbidden fruit, is a hundred feet long and has a depression in the center. The size of the jaws is proportionate to the size of the figure, exact as in nature, which has been ascertained by measuremerits of living serpents. The surrounding country is beautiful beyond description. Rich valleys stretch away beside three shining streams, which converge near the great serpent. These three streams are interpreted as typical of the Holy Trinity — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The image portrays the desception in the attitude of the serpent in the act of eating fruit; pain and death are shown by the convolutions of the serpent, just as the living animal would betray pain and death's agony. The third chapter of Genesis is the only written history the world has of the fall of man and the cause that brought about his ruin. There are other references to it in the prophecies and revelations and all of these accounts agree and compare in a singularly close way, this student says, with the lesson imparted by the great serpent. That this remarkable conformity could have been effected by beings ignorant of the great lesson actually symbolized, Mr. West holds, is ridiculous. That the image antedates the arrival on this continent of any European discoverer who could have brought the story of the creation and of man's fall is likewise an assured fact, he declares.
After many years he learned that the Bible nowhere says that the Garden of Eden was located in Asia, and that its statements will not conflict with the theory that the Garden was actually in the Western hemisphere. The events of Eden occurred at a very early time in the history of the world, long before the time described by any historian. Moses is the only writer of history who describes the Garden of Eden and the events that occurred therein. The time when he wrote was 2500 years after the creation. He received this information from no written word, but from the inspiration of the Lord. No man was alive who knew it before Moses. The Rev. Mr. West affirms it to be his belief that the figure of the serpent was drawn by the hand of the Creator, and that America is, in fact, the land in which Eden was located. Note Genesis 2:8; II Kings 19:12; Ezekiel 27:23; 28:13; 31:8, and 29:18.
A curious and not unimportant consideration in connection with the mound is the fact that a crook was made in the northern line of the county containing the figure in order that the entire