Celebrations for the Ages: ComFest and the Hopewell


ComFest has been an early summer happening in Columbus for nearly a half century. It started on the Ohio State campus area east of High Street in 1972 and was celebrated at different locations until it made its permanent home at Goodale Park in the Short North district just north of downtown. Sometime in the intervening years the likeness of a Hopewell pierced copper disc became their official logo and symbol of the event and used on program covers, T shirts and other forms of advertising. Each winter there is a competition to create the official poster design for that years ComFest and the only firm regulations are that it must be tastefully done, reflect the stated values of the event AND include the Hopewell symbol. This years winning design was created by artist Janean Weber and done in a somewhat understated Art Nouveau style that true to form includes the symbol created by Hopewell artisans perhaps more than 20 centuries ago. The actual object was excavated in 1891 or 1892 from the Hopewell Mound Group site in Ross County by Warren King Moorehead and exhibited at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It presently resides at Chicagos Field Museum. It is about 4 inches in diameter and fashioned from Lake Superior copper that had been hammered thin into a sheet. It was one of among the hundreds of copper objects ranging from plates to ear spools to ax heads recovered at the Hopewell group by Moorhead. The true meaning of such an icon was known only to its original maker and participants in the Hopewell belief system but perhaps it can be supposed that underlying themes might include, as described in the 2013 ComFest program: the symbolism of the multiple circles are of the Hopewell cultural patterns, revealing the concept of continuity, equality, and a set of equal and equidistant points around a center, the idea of perfection and an unchanging connection of elements Who really knows or can say for sure? As might be said, beauty (and truth) is in the eye of the beholder but perhaps ComFest and Hopewell festivals of two millennia ago celebrating community and life  have more in common than you might think. If you happen to be at this years ComFest I will be giving a presentation on the 2008 discovery of the Chippewa Lake Stag-Moose in Medina County, Ohio. The Stag-Moose or more properly Cervalces scotti was a robust deer-like animal but larger than a modern moose, thus the name. It roamed the wetlands of Ohio at the end of the last Ice Age and like many other large mammal species of that era, went extinct as a species around 10,000 years ago. Most intriguing was not just the discovery and the excavation of the animals skeletal remains but the tantalizing clues as to who or what might have been the cause of death, sort of an Ice Age CSI. To find out just what did in the Stag-Moose youll have to attend the presentation. It will be at 1:00 PM on Saturday June 28 at the Peace Tent, located near the tennis courts along the west side of Goodale Park. Hope to see you there. Bill Pickard

Posted June 27, 2014
Topics: Archaeology

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