Tarlton Cross Mound

Site Type: Native American Earthwork Age: Unknown
Location:Pickaway Co., Ohio Survey Type: Vertical Magnetic Gradient
Instrument: Geoscan Research FM 36 Fluxgate Gradiometer Data Density: 8 readings/meter; 50 cm transect interval
Surface Conditions: Mowed grass, forest undergrowth Area Surveyed: 13 10x10-meter blocks (1,300m2)


By  Jarrod Burks, Ph.D., Ohio Valley Archaeology, Inc.

Map of Tarlton created by Squier and Davis (1848). Appears as their Plate XXXVI, No.1

Tarlton Cross is one of the many enigmatic effigy-type mounds in southern Ohio. Archaeologists, historians, and others have posited that this mound was built during the Middle Woodland period (200 B.C.-A.D. 400) by people belonging to a cultural group referred to as the Hopewell by archaeologists. However, no known evidence exists to support this claim. Nevertheless, the mound was likely built during or after the Middle Woodland period, but not before. Those who came before the Hopewell, archaeologists refer to them as the Adena, built small-to-large conical mounds and circular earthen enclosures. Sometimes the mounds were surrounded by the enclosures. While the Adena were not the first to build mounds in Ohio (the oldest mounds in Ohio are currently dated to about 800-900 B.C.), they were the first to build earthen works other than mounds. Unusually shaped mounds, such as Tarlton, were first built by the Hopewell, as far as is known today. Recently, some of Ohio's unusual mounds, such as the Serpent mound and Alligator mound, were radiocarbon dated to post A.D. 1000, indicating that they were built by the Fort Ancient, a culture group in the Middle Ohio Valley known for corn agriculture and relatively large villages.



The cross mound is clearly visible in the data to the right. The outside edge of the mound is highlighted by a ring of less magnetic sediments. This ring around the mound corresponds to a very shallow ditch that surrounds the mound. The dipolar anomaly (positive and negative) in the center of the mound corresponds to a depression visible in the mound's surface. The positive monopolar anomaly to the left of the center is not evident at the surface and may be the signature of a subsurface (and submound?) pit feature. In the lower left corner of the data is the signature of a small mound, which appears in the incorrect place on the 1848 map.