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Title: Mound-Builders
Author: Smyth, William J.
Language: English
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REV. W. J. SMYTH, M.A., B.Sc., Ph.D.

_Pastor of St. Joseph Street Presbyterian Church, Montreal._


APRIL, 1886.



When the early settlers began to pioneer the unbroken forests of North
America, they considered the various Indian tribes to be the true
Aborigines of this continent. But long before the red man, even long
before the growth of the present forests, there lived an ancient race,
whose origin and fate are surrounded with impenetrable darkness. The
remains of their habitations, temples and tombs, are the only voices
that tell us of their existence. Over broad areas, in the most fertile
valleys, and along the numerous tributaries of the great rivers of the
central and western portions of the United States, are to be found
these wonderful remains, of the existence and origin of which, even
the oldest red man could give no history.

Following in the track of these ancient tumuli, which have been raised
with some degree of order and sagacity, we are bound to believe that
they were constructed by a very intelligent and somewhat civilized
race, who during long periods enjoyed the blessings of peace, but like
most nations of the earth, at times were plunged in the horrors of
war. We cannot tell by what name these strange people were known
during their existence. But archæologists, to keep themselves safe,
have given them the name of "Mound-builders," from the nature of the
structures left behind them.

Of this wonderful, semi-civilized, prehistoric race, we have no
written testimony. Their mysterious enclosures, implements of war, and
comparatively impregnable fortifications, together with a few strange
tablets, are the only evidence of their character, civilization, and
doom. No contemporary race, if such there existed on this continent,
has left any record of them.

The mounds they have left are found in the western part of the State
of New York, and extend, it is said, as far as Nebraska. And as they
have lately been found in the Northwest, they have thus a much more
northern limit than was at first thought, while the southern limit is
the Gulf of Mexico.

Having seen only a few mounds in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky, I
must confine my paper to those found in the State of Ohio, where,
during a residence of seventeen months, I made the closest
investigation my time and duties permitted. In Ohio, the number of
mounds, including enclosures of different kinds, is estimated at about
13,000, though it requires the greatest care to distinguish between
the mounds proper and those subsequently erected by the Indians. In
some parts they are very close together, which is strong evidence that
these regions were densely populated. In others, a solitary mound,
with adjacent burial mounds, gives us the idea of a rural village or

ENCLOSURES.--In the State of Ohio, alone, there have been found 1,500
enclosures. Some of these have walls ranging in height from three to
thirty feet, enclosing areas of from ten to 400 acres. Those areas,
enclosed by strong walls, erected in regions difficult of access, were
undoubtedly intended as military enclosures; while those areas
enclosed by slight walls, with no mounds to cover the openings, were
intended as sacred enclosures. I shall leave the consideration of the
sacred enclosures until I describe the temple, or sacrificial mounds,
giving a brief outline of some of the famous fortifications built by
those strange people.

Within convenient distance of the city of Xenia, on Little Miami River
in Warren county, Ohio, can be seen at any time that famous enclosure
known as "Fort Ancient." There can be no mistake as to the intention
of this wonderful enclosure. It is situated on the east bank of the
Miami on a most commanding position. On the east, two ravines
originate, running on either side towards the river, leaving the great
fortress on an elevation of 230 feet above the river. The whole is
surrounded by a wall of five miles in length, but owing to the uneven
course of the river, there are only enclosed one hundred acres. The
wall has numerous openings, which, however, are well protected by
inner walls, or mounds. These openings could be occupied by warriors
while the interior would not be exposed to the enemy. Within the
enclosure are disposed twenty-four reservoirs, which could be
dexterously connected with springs, so that in time of siege, they
would be comparatively independent. The strength of this fortress does
not depend on the walls alone, which range in height from five to
twenty feet, but upon its isolated position and steep sides. Near the
fortification are two large mounds from which run two parallel walls
for 1,350 feet, and then unite, enclosing another mound. We cannot
tell what part these outer walls and mounds played in the defence of
this fortification. But we know that all give evidence of an immense
garrison occupied by an ancient and somewhat civilized race, whose
numerous enemies, doubtless, forced such strong defence. In point of
inaccessibility, engineering skill, and strength, this famous
enclosure will compare not unfavorably with Edinburgh Castle, the
stronghold of Quebec, or the impregnable Gibraltar.

Another stronghold of considerable importance may be seen at Fort
Hill, in Highland county, on an elevation of 500 feet, and enclosing
an area of forty acres. There is another near Piqua, on a hill 160
feet high; and another near the city of Dayton, on a hill 160 feet
high, where a mound is enclosed, which like the ancient watch-towers
of Scripture, can command a view of the whole surrounding country.
Near Carlisle lies the site of another remarkable military enclosure,
which overlooks the fertile valley, between the Twin and Miami Rivers.
Two deep ravines fortify the north and south sides, while an almost
perpendicular bluff fortifies the east. The wall which is partly of
earth and partly of stone is 3,676 feet in length, and encloses a
beautiful area of fifteen acres.

The settlers state that in early times there were two stone mounds and
one stone circle, which contained such excellent building stone, that
they removed them for building purposes. They had to cut a way and
grade it, to remove the stones, which those rude architects of early
prehistoric times found no difficulty in taking from a distant quarry
to that high elevation. We must therefore agree that their knowledge
of the mechanical powers was far superior to anything the Indian race
has shown.

About the largest fortification in Ohio may be seen at Bournville. It
encloses a magnificent area of fertility, on an elevation of 400 feet.
The sides are remarkably steep, and are washed by small creeks, that
empty into Paint Creek hard by. Within the fortification are several
depressions, where water remains most of the year. The area, of
itself, would be a beautiful farm, as it consists of 140 acres. The
wall, which was about 2-1/4 miles in length, is very much in ruins,
being chiefly built of stone. Some years ago the whole place was
covered by the trees, and on the dilapidated stone wall, may still be
seen immense trees, whose growth among the stones helped to displace
them. The decayed wood beneath some of these trees indicates that
successions of forests have flourished since these forts were
abandoned by those who made them.

GRADED WAYS.--It is well known that, in most of these valleys; there
are several terraces, from the river bottom or flats, up to the high
lands in the distance. Near a place called Piketown there is a
beautiful graded avenue. The third terrace is seventeen feet above the
second and the second about fourteen feet from the river flat. These
terraces form, when graded, this avenue, which has walls on either
side in height twenty-two feet. These walls run for 1,010 feet to the
third terrace, where they continue to run for 2,580 feet, terminating
in a group of mounds one of which is thirty feet high. Some distance
from these walls another wall runs 212 feet at right angles, and then
turns parallel for 420 feet, when it curves inwardly for 240 feet.

MOUNDS.--I stated at the outset that the mounds in Ohio were very
numerous. They are of various sizes, ranging from those which are only
a few feet in height and a few yards at their base, to those which are
about 90 feet in height, and covering some acres at their base. These
mounds are mostly composed of earth, the material often differing
greatly from the surrounding soil. When we consider the multitudes of
these mounds, and the immense transportation of earth and stones
required in their structure, it needs no stretch of imagination to
conclude that the Mound-builders were a mighty race. Most of these
mounds are located near large rivers or streams, and, consequently, in
the valleys, although some few are to be found on high lands, and even
on hills very suitable for military purposes. Sometimes they may be
seen in clusters, indicating a great business centre and large
population, while again only one may be found in a journey of fifty or
one hundred miles.

During the last fifty years, these tumuli have been carefully
examined, and, from their contents, shape and position, they are now
classified as Temple or Sacrificial Mounds, Burial or Sepulchral
Mounds, Symbolic Mounds, Signal Mounds and Indefinite Mounds. I shall
briefly describe the characteristic of each class and give a few

_Temple Mounds_.--These mounds are not so numerous in Ohio as in some
other States, yet they occur in sufficient numbers to deserve a small
share of our attention. The city of Marietta has slowly encroached
upon some interesting remains of a sacrificial character, which
consist of two irregular squares containing 50 and 27 acres
respectively. They are situated on a level plain 100 feet above the
level of the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers. The smaller square has ten
gateways, which are covered by mounds, while the larger square, being
strictly a sacred enclosure, has no mounds to cover the 16 openings,
but contains nevertheless four temple mounds of considerable interest.
On the top of these mounds, doubtless there were erected capacious
temples, as there are significant avenues of ascent. There may still
be seen the remains of the ancient altar, where, without doubt, these
people assembled for worship, and where, from the presence of human
bones, we may conclude human beings were offered in sacrifice. In all
the sacred enclosures, evidences of altars have been found, on which,
doubtless, the sacrificial fires blazed for ages. Often are to be
found successions of alternate layers of ashes and blue clay,
indicating a desire for pure sacrifice.

In the neighborhood of Newark, Ohio, at the forks of Licking River,
may be seen most elaborate enclosures, square, circular, and polygonal
in their form, covering in all an extent of four square miles. Like
the ancient temples of the Druids, most of the enclosures have their
openings to the east, or rising sun, so that the first rays shall
strike the altar where doubtless a priest, from the early hour of
dawn, performed mysterious rites.

On the west, there is erected a mound, 170 feet long and 14 feet in
height, which overlooks the whole works, and has been styled "the
Observatory". To the east is a true circle 2,880 feet in
circumference, the wall being 6 feet in height. To the north of this
is an avenue leading from the circle to an octagon of fifty acres, in
the wall of which are eight gateways, which, however, are covered by
mounds five feet in height. From this strange eight-sided figure run
three parallel walls. Those to the south are about two miles in
length, and those running towards the east are each about one mile in

About a mile east, where the middle line of parallel walls terminates,
is a square containing twenty acres, within and around the walls of
which are disposed seven mounds. To the north-east of this is an
elliptical work of large dimensions. On the south-east is a circle, in
the centre of which is the form of a bird with wings expanded. The
body is 155 feet, the length of each wing 110 feet, and the head of
the bird is towards the opening. When this structure was opened, there
was found an altar, proving that, in this circular place, this ancient
people must have assembled for worship.

There is a place three miles north of Chillicothe, where an extensive
enclosure--now called "Mound City"--contains 26 well formed and
regularly disposed mounds, covering an area of 13 acres. Many of those
mounds contained altars at their base, but have been subsequently
converted into ordinary mounds. One mound, which is 90 feet in
diameter at the base and 7-1/2 feet in height, contained an altar,
within the basin of which was found a layer of solid ashes three
inches thick, in which were numerous pieces of pottery and
shell-beads. On the top of the altar was a layer of sand, then gravel
for two feet, then a thin layer of sand, then one foot of gravel.

Buried three feet below the apex of the mound, were found two well
developed and highly preserved skeletons, which, however, were not
those of Mound-builders, but rather of the Indians who were buried
there long after the mounds were abandoned. One altar was covered by a
layer of opaque mica, which must have been brought from a great
distance. In the centre of the basin was found, besides numerous other
relics, a large heap of burned human bones, which would indicate it an
altar of human sacrifice. From other evidences, we may safely conclude
that they were Sun or Fire-worshippers. As to the cause of these
altars being afterwards changed into common mounds, it is difficult to
determine. Many such mounds are found, which for a long time were used
for purposes of sacrifice, and then covered over by many feet of
earth. We may not wonder, however, at this, as even now many old
churches are abandoned to the fate of being turned into dwelling
houses or barns.

It may be, however, that after the decease of the priest who performed
his sacred functions before the altar for many years, the people, to
whom he had so long ministered, laid, or burned his remains on the
altar which they so much revered, and then, like the ancient builders
of the pyramids, erected a monument to departed worth, and during the
strange ritual deposited beside the respected remains whatever
implements or ornaments they could part with, in honor of the dead.

_Burial Mounds_.--As in modern days, a place of sepulture is usually
selected some distance from the city or town, so the burial mounds may
be expected without the enclosures. In our own time we find some
cemeteries densely populated with graves, and others have but few. So
it was in the days of the Mound-builders; for we find in some places
groups of burial mounds, and in other places only a few may be found
scattered over the plain.

Burial mounds are of various sizes, I presume, according to the
dignity of the individual entombed. Sometimes one large mound is found
to possess a skeleton, and some interesting relics, which indicate the
position of the departed, while a group of smaller mounds is situated
around it. The large one perhaps contained the skeleton of a leader,
surrounded by a few of his intimate followers. Or perhaps it was that
of a patriarch, surrounded by his numerous progeny, much as, in our
own day, burial plots are set apart for families.

Grave Creek burial mound, which stands at the junction of Grave Creek,
Virginia, with the Ohio, is one of the largest and most important
burial mounds in America. It is 70 feet in height and at its base it
is 1,000 feet in circumference. When this mound was opened, two vaults
were found, one at the base contained two skeletons, one of them a
female. The logs of which this vault was composed were all decayed,
and the earth and stones lay upon the skeletons. In the upper vault
there was a single skeleton very much decayed. Within these vaults and
beside the illustrous dead, were found more than 3,000 shell-beads,
ornaments of mica, copper bracelets, and other stone carvings. Around
the lower vault were found ten much decayed skeletons, all in a
sitting posture.

The skeletons in the vaults, doubtless, were the remains of royalty,
or some distinguished chiefs, whose memory these devoted people
desired to perpetuate, while the ten skeletons, which surrounded the
vault, were perhaps some of their loyal subjects who were sacrificed
according to the custom of some of the heathen nations both ancient
and modern. Foster, desiring to draw a comparison or rather identify
this mode of burial with those of the Greeks and other nations,
directs our attention to Herodotus, Book IV, Chaps. 71 and 190. And
for identifying the ceremonial with the funeral of Achilles, our
attention is called to the Odyssey, Book XXIV, with the burial of
Hector in the Iliad, Book XXIV.

Dr. Wilson identifies the burial of the living with the dead by giving
an account of the burial of Black Bird, the great chief of the Omahas
more than 60 years ago. He caught the smallpox at Washington, and
dying on his way home, he gave instructions to his braves around him
how he was to be buried. "His body was clothed with the gayest Indian
robes, decorated with scalps and war eagle plumes, and he was carried
to one of the loftiest bluffs on the Missouri. He was placed upon his
favorite war horse, a beautiful white steed. His bow was placed in his
hand. His shield, quiver, pipe, medicine-bag and tobacco-pouch hung by
his side, for his comfort on his journey to the happy hunting grounds
of the great Manitou. After a significant ceremonial, the Indians
placed turf and sod about the legs of the horse; gradually the pile
rose, until living horse and dead rider were buried together in this
memorial mound, which may be seen from the banks of the Missouri."

But to come back to the mound, I now describe a sandstone disk, 1-1/2
inch in diameter and 3/4 inch thick, taken up from near the skeleton
in the lower part of Grave Creek mound. According to Schoolcraft's
analysis, communicated to the American Ethnological Society, "Of the
22 alphabetic characters, 4 correspond with the ancient Greek, 4 with
the Etruscan, 5 with the old Northern runes, 6 with the ancient
Gaelic, 7 with the old Erse, 10 with the Phoenician, 14 with the old
British," and he also adds that equivalents may be found in the old
Hebrew. It is, as some writers have described it, an exceedingly
accommodating inscription. The following readings have been given:--

By M. Levy Bing: "What thou sayest, thou dost impose it, thou shinest
in thy impetuous clan, and rapid chamois." By M. Maurice Schwab
(1857): "The chief of emigration who reached these places, has fixed
these statutes forever." By M. Oppert: "The grave of one who was
assassinated here. May God, to revenge him, strike his murderer,
cutting off the hand of his existence." We can only say of these
readings what a Hebrew Rabbi said to an indolent student, who in
reading a verse in the Psalms in the original, gave the translation of
the next verse, "Gentlemen, that is a very free translation." Besides
this, other readings have been given, all of which have the advantage
that few can contradict them.

In the Scioto valley, where there are many very interesting remains of
the Mound-builders, there are many burial mounds which have lately
been opened. In many of these, the casts of unhewn logs are still
visible, showing that the dead were placed in a rude vault, which was
afterwards covered by soil. One skeleton was found to have round the
neck several hundred beads, made mostly of marine shells, others made
of the tusks of animals and a few laminæ of mica. In the same mound
from which this skeleton was taken, the vault gave strong evidence of
its having been set on fire during the burial ceremony,--the large
quantity of charcoal proving that it was suddenly quenched by the
fresh soil heaped upon it.

If these Mound-builders were Sun-worshippers, as may safely be
concluded from tablets and from rock markings, as well as from the
fact of their sacred enclosures mostly looking towards the east, where
the early rays would fall upon the altar, we may easily account for
the fire having a share In the burial ceremony. Some have concluded
that the blazing fire signified "life," and that the sudden quenching
signified "death."

Let it not be thought, however, that there are no burying places but
these few mounds. I believe the mounds of a burial character were only
for persons of distinction, while in reality there are thousands of
ancient cemeteries of vast extent, where multitudes have received
common burial. The spring freshets yearly uncover many of these,
exposing not only their bones, but many ornaments and implements that
were used by this wonderful people, and which were deposited beside
them when consigned to the silent tomb.

_Symbolic Mounds_.--There can be no mistake in affirming that the
strange mounds, so prevalent in Wisconsin, and frequently found in
other States, were the result of intention rather than accident. These
are sometimes called "Effigy Mounds." In Wisconsin, even implements,
as well as animals, are symbolized. The beaver, the tortoise, the
elephant, the serpent, the alligator seem to be their favorite
animals, whose images they have endeavored to perpetuate in mounds, of
course on a large scale. In Adams county, Ohio, on a steep bluff, 150
feet above the level of Brush Creek, may be seen a huge serpent.

It is called the "Serpent Mound." The head of the serpent lies towards
the point of the spur, and then like the serpent, its body winds
gracefully back for 700 feet, the tail curved into a triple coil. From
this and other evidences lately collected, we may assume that the
serpent was among the sacred animals. Between the jaws of this serpent
there is a stone mound, bearing marks of long use as an altar. The
body, which is a mere winding wall, is, on an average, five feet in
height, and thirty-feet broad at the base near the centre. Doubtless
this wall was much higher when first made, and owing to the rains of
centuries it has become lower and broader.

Another mound, the shape and proportion of an alligator, may be seen
in Licking county, Ohio, about one mile from Granville. This is also
on a spur of land near the Licking River. Its length is 250 feet and
height about four feet. Its whole outline is strictly conformable to
the alligator with which animal they must have been familiar along the
Mississippi, where they could easily journey by boat. Rather than
transport the animal from the south, they doubtless erected this
representation of what they must have held sacred.

In the State of Wisconsin there is one symbolic mound more worthy of
notice than any other. It is called "the Elephant Mound," from the
fact that it bears the proportion and conformability of the Mastodon.
This people must have known something of this animal which in early
times roamed over this continent. I think we should not be going too
far if we supposed that the Mound-builders lived contemporaneously
with the last of these monsters of the Prehistoric forests.

_Signal Mounds_.--It seems quite in keeping with what we have already
seen of the sagacity of this wonderful race, that they should erect
stations of observation in various suitable regions, so that signals
could be given to the multitudes who dwelt in the plain, when they
were threatened by an approaching enemy. If a fire were lit on a much
burnt mound at the ancient fort near Bournville, it could be seen over
a large portion of the valleys, where numerous works are found. No
doubt, this was a signal mound, where the appointed watchman, like the
watchman of Scripture, could give the alarm of the coming foe,
enabling the industrious people to reach the fortress in safety.

On a hill 600 feet high, near Chillicothe, Ohio, there is a mound,
which in the days of the Mound-builders must have been a signal mound.
A light on this can be seen for twenty miles either up or down the

The great mound at Miamisburg, Ohio, which is 68 feet high and 852
feet in circumference at its base, served, no doubt, this important
department of warfare, as a fire kindled on it could flash light into
Butler county, near Elk Creek, where it would again be taken up by the
watchman there, and light flashed in the direction of Xenia, and from
one signal mound to another until it would reach the great works at
Newark. Thus in the course of an hour the whole southern portion of
the State of Ohio could be warned of danger and prepare for combat or

Such a system has been used by all nations, both civilized and savage.
We need not wonder that the Mound-builders with such sagacity and
forethought, should establish such a system of alarm by which the
inhabitants could be apprised of invasion.

_Indefinite Mounds_.--Of this class there are many. Thousands of such
indefinite mounds and squares and circles are to be seen scattered
over the various States of the Union. Their structure, composition and
contents, give us no clue by which they may be assigned a place. It is
believed that many of the strange works that abound in Butler county,
Ohio, and which cannot be classified, are among the incomplete works,
that is, works left unfinished by the builders.

IMPLEMENTS.--The people of Ohio have appropriated the implements of
the Mound-builders to a large extent. Almost every homestead in Ohio
is ornamented with some of those ancient implements and relics, yet
tons have been taken away to grace private and public museums in all
parts of this country, and even the museums of Europe and Asia. Among
the implements are to be found spear heads, arrow heads; rimmers,
knives, axes, hatchets, hammers, chisels, pestles, mortars, pottery,
pipes, sculpture, gorgets, tubes, and articles of bone and clothing.
Fragments of coarse, but uniformly spun and woven cloth have been
found, of course not in preservation, but charred and in folds. One
piece, near Middletown, Ohio, was found connected with tassels or
ornaments, and may be seen at the Smithsonian Institute at Washington.
In Anderson township, Ohio, native gold has been found for the first
time. Several small ornaments of copper have been found covered with
thin sheets of gold. Earrings also, made of meteoric iron, have been
found, and a serpent cut out of mica. Some terra-cotta figures also,
which give us an idea of the way the hair was dressed in the days of
the Mound-builders. I cannot here name all the implements and
ornaments that have been discovered. Though most of them are of hard
stone, yet many have been found made of copper.

MINING, ETC.--That these people were miners, is evident from the
prevalence of various mineral fragments and implements. At Mound City,
near Chillicothe, has been found galena, none of which can be found in
Ohio. Obsidian also is found in the shape of instruments, which they
must have transported from the Rocky Mountains. Ancient mining shafts
are found in Minnesota, where the solid rock had been excavated to the
depth of 60 feet. On Isle Royal there are pits 60 feet deep, worked
through nine feet of solid rock, at the bottom of which is a rich vein
of copper, and in the two miles of excavations in the same straight
line have been found the mining implements in great numbers. Such
advancement in mining, sagacity in warfare, industrial pursuits, and
geometric skill, as their works display, prove their great superiority
of race over the modern Indian. Their implements, some of them most
elaborately made, their brick-making and various other ingenious
works, enable us to place them high as an industrial people, while
their sacred enclosures, and altars, and tablets, together with the
numerous evidences of their being an agricultural nation, enable us to
place them far above the modern Indian in the scale of civilization.

The people of the United States, though much to be commended because
of their prudence and forethought in laying out their modern towns and
cities along the various water courses, which serve as the different
highways of commerce, have by no means shown a superior sagacity in
that respect to the Mound-builders, whose great centres of population
are now mostly occupied, or are encroached upon by the modern cities.

We may with safety assert that the population about Newark, and Xenia,
and Mound City, was far above what it is now. The country about
Dayton, Miamisburg, Oxford, Hamilton and Marietta was, undoubtedly, in
the days of the Mound-builders moving with a greater mass of human
beings than it can boast of to-day.

And if those peaceable and industrious inhabitants were as numerous as
their remains indicate, what must have been the strength of those
invading hordes who caused their downfall and perhaps wiped out
forever every living representative of that ancient race, who could
leave no more lasting memorial of their existence and struggles than
those mysterious mounds which have given them their name.

ANTIQUITY OF THE MOUND-BUILDERS.--Upon this point there are many
theories, some regarding them as the earliest of the Indian tribes.
Others give them a very great age and claim them to belong to
preadamite man. By far the greater number of archæologists, however,
place their existence at about 2,000 years ago.

In favor of the latter view we may call as evidence the present forest
trees, which, though of great age, still flourish on some of the
ancient remains. On one of the mounds at Marietta, Ohio, there stood a
gigantic tree, which, when cut down, displayed 800 rings of annual
growth. In many other places, trees of the age of 750 years have been
cut, and underneath them evidences of previous forests found. One tree
750 years old was found to have underneath it, on the walls of one of
the forts in Ohio, the cast of another tree of equal size, which would
carry us back at least 1,500 years since those trees began to grow on
those deserted walls of that ancient fortification.

We have some data in the vegetable accumulations in the ancient mining
shafts near Lake Superior, as well as in the vegetable and other
matter deposited in the numerous pits and trenches found among the
works. Though these evidences cannot give the exact time of their
accumulation, yet they give it approximately, by comparison with
similar recent deposits.

There is another still stronger argument in favor of their antiquity,
viz., the decayed condition of the skeletons. The skeletons of the
oldest Indian tribes are comparatively sound while those of the
Mound-builders are much decayed. If they are sound when brought out,
they at once begin to disintegrate in the atmosphere, which is a sure
sign of their antiquity. We know that some skeletons in Europe have
lately been exhumed, which, though buried more than 1,000 years, are
comparatively firm and well-preserved. We are, I think, bound to
ascribe a greater antiquity to the Mound-builders' skeletons than to
those found in the ancient barrows of Europe. Other considerations,
such as stream encroachment, and river-terrace formation, might also
be brought in as presumptive arguments in favor of their great

ORIGIN OF THE MOUND-BUILDERS.--This is a question not easily answered.
It brings me into no discredit before the educated world to
acknowledge ignorance on this mysterious point. The study of
Craniology and Philology, in connection with Ethnology, shall alone
throw light on this subject. Dr. Wilson says, in his "Prehistoric Man"
(p. 123), "The ethnical classification of this strange race is still
an unsettled question," and he declares without fear of contradiction,
"that especially concerning the Scioto Mound skull, the elevation and
breadth of the frontal bone, differs essentially from the Indian, and
that the cerebral development was more in accordance with the
character of that singular people, who without architecture have
perpetuated, in mere structures of earth, the evidences of geometric
skill, a definite means of determining angles, a fixed standard of
measurement, and the capacity as well as the practice of repeating
geometrically constructed works of large and uniform dimensions."

Undoubtedly they were skilled in agriculture, from the remains of
ancient garden-beds, which were cultivated in a methodical manner. The
modern Indians give no such evidence of labor. For wherever they are
found they love to roam in undisputed possession of the forest, and
lead an indolent life. Of course I do not assign this as a valid
reason for their not being identified with the Mound-builders. An
ancient race may have a degenerate offspring.

Nor shall I attempt to find in the various inscriptions any clue to
their Hebrew origin, or to identify that ancient people with the lost
tribes, as some have dared to do. Foster inclines to regard them as
emigrating from the tropics, rather than coming from the north.

This would involve us in investigating the antiquity of the Mexican
and Peruvian ruins, where vast works of high architecture and more
advanced civilization were found than among the Mound-builders. There
is little difficulty in concluding that the Aztecs, who occupied
Mexico during the Spanish invasion under Cortez, were the conquerors
of several races that preceded them. Among these conquered races, no
doubt, were the Toltecs, who were afterwards found in such great
numbers, and in an amazing state of advanced civilization. The crania
of the Mound-builders and the Toltecs correspond. Now, whether they
migrated to the north from the tropics, or journeyed south from the
north, I cannot say. I should incline to the latter theory. Industry
is sure to advance. The rude mounds of the United States are far
surpassed by those immense pyramids in Mexico and Peru, surpassing the
Egyptian in size. And those fine architectural palaces and temples,
whose history we cannot fully know, far eclipse anything in the
northern part of America.

Whoever they were and wherever they came from, they were doubtless
driven southward by the invading tribes of the north. They nobly
fought their way, contesting every foot, until superior numbers took
them by force. Thus these quiet and inoffensive creatures were finally
expelled from their home which doubtless their fathers had occupied
through centuries. If any escaped they, no doubt, found an asylum
southward, where there were other tribes equally civilized, and,
forming an union with them or conquered by them, they began a higher
and better civilization as seen in Mexico and Peru.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Page 8: Octogon has been changed to octagon.

Page 15: Smithsonion has been changed to Smithsonian.

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