Biblical Archaeology Review 45:3, May/June 2019


Chillicothe, Ohio

Excavated in 1901 from the Adena Mound, this pipe is the oldest known three-dimensional representation of a human found in eastern North America. The Adena culture (800 B.C.E. to 100 C.E.) flourished in southeastern Indiana, southwestern Pennsylvania, the Scioto River and Hocking Valleys of southern Ohio, and the Kanawha Valley near Charleston, West Virginia—well over a millennium before contact with European settlers.

The Adena Pipe—Ohio’s state artifact as of 2013—was discovered in the burial of an adult male. Although tubular pipes were common among the Adena people, the effigy of this pipe is unique. Carved from Ohio pipestone and measuring 8 inches long, the pipe depicts a man (perhaps a shaman or medicine man) wearing a loincloth—decorated with a feather bustle at the back—and ear spools. Mostly hollow, the pipe would have been used to smoke tobacco, a widespread practice among Adena people.

This rare example of Adena craftsmanship can be viewed at the Ohio History Connection in Columbus, Ohio.

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