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Otter Effigy Pipe

100 - 400 A.D.

Ohio History Connection

Ohio History Connection

This pipe in effigy (a likeness or representation) of an otter was excavated from Tremper Mound, a Hopewell culture site located five miles north of Portsmouth in Scioto County. The otter is shown standing with a fish in mouth and its tail extended on the platform. There is little detail on the body and paws of the otter or on the fish. A section of the left side of the bowl and sections of the side edges of the platform are restored. The effigy pipe measures approximately 1.5"; x 3.5" x 1.25" (3.81 x 8.89 x 3.18 cm). This pipe is part of a large collection of pipes found at Tremper Mound. The pipes were carved of Ohio pipestone, a silica-based material that can be easily carved when freshly quarried from the hills east of the Scioto River. The pipes represent a variety of animals significant to the Hopewell, including owls, wolves, deer and beaver. Skilled Hopewell craftsmen carved the pipes with flint knives and some are embellished with pearls or copper. In Ohio, the Hopewell Indians (100 B.C.-A.D. 500) built burial mounds and large earthen enclosures in geometric shapes (circles, squares, and octagons) to mark the places where the people gathered periodically to participate in many social and ceremonial events. Some of these sites were quite large--the Newark Earthworks complex extends over a 4-square-mile area. The Hopewell people also maintained a large trade network extending as far as the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming, the Florida coast and Appalachians, and northern Lake Superior.

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