From Ohio History Central
This wonderful carved pipe was found in the Adena mound in Chillicothe. It shows us an Adena man wearing typical clothing and jewelry.
The Adena Pipe is one of the most remarkable artifacts in the collections of the Ohio Historical Society. It is a tubular pipe carved from Ohio pipestone into an effigy of an ancient American Indian man. William C. Mills discovered the pipe in 1901 within the Adena Mound in Chillicothe. Tubular pipes are common in the Adena culture (800 B.C. to A.D. 1). Effigy pipes are highly unusual and the Adena Pipe is virtually unique.
The sculpture reveals wonderful details of clothing, hair-style, and ornaments of the Adena culture, which archaeologists might not otherwise be able to appreciate. Some think the carving is so naturalistic that it can be said to represent a dwarf with a goiter. A goiter is a swollen gland in the neck due to a deficiency in the diet. We don't know enough about Adena sculpture, however, to make these claims with confidence. The short legs compared to the body simply may indicate that the artist was less interested in the legs, or the artist may have had difficulties representing bent legs while keeping the proportions accurate.
The decorated loincloth with the feather bustle is particularly interesting. A similar bird fan-tails is shown on the Berlin Tablet, which is a stone tablet engraved with a stylized carving of a bird. In wearing such a symbol, the man represented on the Adena Pipe may have been taking on the powers associated with a feathered spirit of the Above World. Therefore, the effigy may represent a shaman or medicine man in the act of a ceremonial dance.
Tubular pipes were used for smoking tobacco as a part of special ceremonies. Shamans also could have used them as "sucking tubes" through which they believed they could draw evil spirits from the bodies of sick people.
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The file above is a Quicktime Virtual Reality movie of the Adena Pipe. The file is rather large, a little over 3 MB, so please be patient while it downloads. You will need at least version 6.5 of the Quicktime plugin in order to view the file.
<a href="#" target="_blank">If you need it, you can get the Quicktime plugin from Apple for free by clicking here.</a>
Quicktime VR instructions:
- After the file is downloaded move the cursor over the pipe. When the cursor image changes to a fist, hold the left mouse button down and move the cursor left, right, up, or down. The pipe should move in the direction you move the cursor.
- With the cursor over the pipe you can press the "Shift" key on your keyboard to zoom in, or the "Ctrl" key to zoom out.
- Lepper, Bradley T. Ohio Archaeology: An Illustrated Chronicle of Ohio's Ancient American Indian Cultures. Wilmington, Ohio, Orange Frazer Press, 2005.
- Mills, William C. "Excavations of the Adena Mound," Ohio Archaeological and Historical Publications, Volume 10, pp. 452-479, 1902.
- Reilly, F. Kent III and James F. Garber, editors. Ancient Objects and Sacred Realms: Interpretations of Mississippian Iconography. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2007.
- Woodward, Susan L., and Jerry N. McDonald. Indian Mounds of the Middle Ohio Valley: A Guide to Mounds and Earthworks of the Adena, Hopewell, Cole, and Fort Ancient People. Lincoln: The University of Nebraska Press, 2002.