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Title: Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley - Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, Vol. I.
Author: Squier, E. G., Davis, E. H.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley - Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, Vol. I." ***

 [Illustration: I. Ancient Works, Marietta, Ohio.]


 VOL. I.




 114 Nassau street, New York.








 114 Nassau street, New York.


This volume is intended to form the first of a series of volumes,
consisting of original memoirs on different branches of knowledge
published at the expense, and under the direction of the Smithsonian
Institution. The publication of this series forms part of a general
plan adopted for carrying into effect the benevolent intentions of
JAMES SMITHSON, Esq., of England. This gentleman left his property
in trust to the United States of America, to found at Washington an
institution which should bear his own name, and have for its objects
“the «increase» and «diffusion» of knowledge among men.” This trust
was accepted by the Government of the United States, and an Act of
Congress was passed August 10th, 1846, constituting the President and
the other principal executive officers of the general government, the
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Mayor of Washington, and such
other persons as they might elect honorary members, an establishment
DIFFUSION OF KNOWLEDGE AMONG MEN.” The members and honorary members
of this establishment are to hold stated and special meetings for the
supervision of the affairs of the Institution, and for the advice and
instruction of a Board of Regents, to whom the financial and other
affairs are entrusted.

The Board of Regents consists of three members ex officio of the
establishment, namely, the Vice President of the United States, the
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the Mayor of Washington,
together with twelve other members, three of whom are appointed by
the Senate from its own body, three by the House of Representatives
from its members, and six citizens appointed by a joint resolution of
both houses. To this board is given the power of electing a Secretary
and other officers, for conducting the active operations of the

To carry into effect the purposes of the testator, the plan of
organization should evidently embrace two objects,—one, the increase
of knowledge by the addition of new truths to the existing stock;
the other, the diffusion of knowledge thus increased, among men. No
restriction is made in favor of any kind of knowledge, and hence each
branch is entitled to and should receive a share of attention.

The Act of Congress, establishing the Institution, directs, as a part
of the plan of organization, the formation of a Library, a Museum,
and a Gallery of Art, together with provisions for physical research
and popular lectures, while it leaves to the Regents the power of
adopting such other parts of an organization as they may deem best
suited to promote the objects of the bequest.

After much deliberation, the Regents resolved to divide the annual
income, thirty thousand nine hundred and fifty dollars, into two
equal parts,—one part to be devoted to the increase and diffusion of
knowledge by means of original research and publications,—the other
half of the income to be applied in accordance with the requirements
of the Act of Congress, to the gradual formation of a Library, a
Museum, and a Gallery of Art.

The following are the details of the two parts of the general plan
of organization provisionally adopted at the meeting of the Regents,
Dec. 8th, 1847.


I. TO INCREASE KNOWLEDGE.—«It is proposed to stimulate research, by
offering rewards, consisting of money, medals, etc., for original
memoirs on all subjects of investigation.»

1. The memoirs thus obtained to be published in a series of volumes,
in a quarto form, and entitled “Smithsonian Contributions to

2. No memoir, on subjects of physical science, to be accepted
for publication, which does not furnish a positive addition to
human knowledge, resting on original research; and all unverified
speculations to be rejected.

3. Each memoir presented to the Institution to be submitted for
examination to a commission of persons of reputation for learning
in the branch to which the memoir pertains; and to be accepted for
publication only in case the report of this commission is favorable.

4. The commission to be chosen by the officers of the Institution,
and the name of the author, as far as practicable, concealed, unless
a favorable decision be made.

5. The volumes of the memoirs to be exchanged for the Transactions
of literary and scientific societies, and copies to be given to all
the colleges, and principal libraries, in this country. One part of
the remaining copies may be offered for sale; and the other carefully
preserved, to form complete sets of the work, to supply the demand
from new institutions.

6. An abstract, or popular account, of the contents of these memoirs
to be given to the public through the annual report of the Regents to

II. TO INCREASE KNOWLEDGE.—«It is also proposed to appropriate a
portion of the income, annually, to special objects of research,
under the direction of suitable persons.»

1. The objects, and the amount appropriated, to be recommended by
counsellors of the Institution.

2. Appropriations in different years to different objects; so that in
course of time, each branch of knowledge may receive a share.

3. The results obtained from these appropriations to be published,
with the memoirs before mentioned, in the volumes of the Smithsonian
Contributions to Knowledge.

4. Examples of objects for which appropriations may be made:

(1.) System of extended meteorological observations for solving the
problem of American storms.

(2.) Explorations in descriptive natural history, and geological,
magnetical, and topographical surveys, to collect materials for the
formation of a Physical Atlas of the United States.

(3.) Solution of experimental problems, such as a new determination
of the weight of the earth, of the velocity of electricity, and
of light; chemical analyses of soils and plants; collection and
publication of articles of science, accumulated in the offices of

(4.) Institution of statistical inquiries with reference to physical,
moral, and political subjects.

(5.) Historical researches, and accurate surveys of places celebrated
in American history.

(6.) Ethnological researches, particularly with reference to the
different races of men in North America; also explorations, and
accurate surveys, of the mounds and other remains of the ancient
people of our country.

I. TO DIFFUSE KNOWLEDGE.—«It is proposed to publish a series of
reports, giving an account of the new discoveries in science, and of
the changes made from year to year in all branches of knowledge not
strictly professional.»

1. Some of these reports may be published annually, others at longer
intervals, as the income of the Institution or the changes in the
branches of knowledge may indicate.

2. The reports are to be prepared by collaborators, eminent in the
different branches of knowledge.

3. Each collaborator to be furnished with the journals and
publications, domestic and foreign, necessary to the compilation of
his report; to be paid a certain sum for his labors, and to be named
on the title-page of the report.

4. The reports to be published in separate parts, so that persons
interested in a particular branch, can procure the parts relating to
it without purchasing the whole.

5. These reports may be presented to Congress, for partial
distribution, the remaining copies to be given to literary and
scientific institutions, and sold to individuals for a moderate price.

«The following are some of the subjects which may be embraced in the


1. Physics, including astronomy, natural philosophy, chemistry, and

2. Natural history, including botany, zoology, geology, &c.

3. Agriculture.

4. Application of science to arts.


5. Ethnology, including particular history, comparative philology,
antiquities, &c.

6. Statistics and political economy.

7. Mental and moral philosophy.

8. A survey of the political events of the world; penal reform, &c.


9. Modern literature.

10. The fine arts, and their application to the useful arts.

11. Bibliography.

12. Obituary notices of distinguished individuals.

II. TO DIFFUSE KNOWLEDGE.—«It is proposed to publish occasionally
separate treatises on subjects of general interest.»

1. These treatises may occasionally consist of valuable memoirs
translated from foreign languages, or of articles prepared under the
direction of the Institution, or procured by offering premiums for
the best exposition of a given subject.

2. The treatises to be submitted to a commission of competent judges,
previous to their publication.


This part contemplates the formation of a Library, a Museum, and a
Gallery of Art.

1. To carry out the plan before described, a library will be
required, consisting, 1st, of a complete collection of the
transactions and proceedings of all the learned societies in the
world; 2d, of the more important current periodical publications, and
other works necessary in preparing the periodical reports.

2. The Institution should make special collections, particularly
of objects to verify its own publications. Also a collection of
instruments of research in all branches of experimental science.

3. With reference to the collection of books, other than those
mentioned above, catalogues of all the different libraries in the
United States should be procured, in order that the valuable books
first purchased may be such as are not to be found elsewhere in the
United States.

4. Also catalogues of memoirs, and of books in foreign libraries, and
other materials, should be collected for rendering the Institution
a centre of bibliographical knowledge, whence the student may be
directed to any work which he may require.

5. It is believed that the collections in natural history will
increase by donation as rapidly as the income of the Institution can
make provisions for their reception, and, therefore, it will seldom
be necessary to purchase any articles of this kind.

6. Attempts should be made to procure for the gallery of art casts of
the most celebrated articles of ancient and modern sculpture.

7. The arts may be encouraged by providing a room, free of expense,
for the exhibition of the objects of the Art-Union and other similar

8. A small appropriation should annually be made for models of
antiquities, such as those of the remains of ancient temples, &c.

9. For the present, or until the building is fully completed, only
one permanent assistant to the Secretary will be required, to act as

10. The Secretary and his assistants, during the session of Congress,
will be required to illustrate new discoveries in science, and to
exhibit new objects of art; distinguished individuals should also be
invited to give lectures on subjects of general interest.

11. When the building is completed, and when, in accordance with the
Act of Congress, the charge of the National Museum is given to the
Smithsonian Institution, other assistants will be required.

       *       *       *       *       *

The first memoir of the proper character presented after the adoption
of the foregoing plan of organization, was the one which occupies
the present volume. It was submitted in accordance with the rule
adopted, to a commission of examination, consisting of a committee
of the members of the American Ethnological Society, and on the
favorable report of this committee and the responsibility of the
Society, the memoir was accepted for publication. The following is
the correspondence which took place on the occasion.


 CHILLICOTHE, OHIO, «May» 15, 1847.

 DEAR SIR:—It is proposed in the recognized plan of organization of
 the Smithsonian Institution, of which you are the executive officer,
 to publish, under the title of “«Smithsonian Contributions to
 Knowledge»,” such original papers and memoirs “as shall constitute
 valuable additions to the sum of human knowledge.” Under the belief
 that it falls legitimately within the scope of the above plan,
 the undersigned herewith submit for acceptance and publication,
 subject to the prescribed rules of the Institution, a MS. memoir
 the results of Extensive Original Surveys and Explorations:» by E.
 G. SQUIER and E. H. DAVIS.” The extent of these investigations, and
 their general character, are sufficiently indicated in the prefatory
 remarks to the volume.

                     With high consideration, we are truly yours,
                                                          E. G. SQUIER,
                “JOSEPH HENRY, Esq., Secretary Smithsonian Institution.
                                                          E. H. DAVIS.”

       *       *       *       *       *

 «Princeton», June 2, 1847.

 “DEAR SIR:—I am authorized by the Regents of the Smithsonian
 Institution, to publish, in the numbers of the ‘«Smithsonian
 Contributions to Knowledge»,’ any memoir which may be presented
 for this purpose, provided, that, on a careful examination by a
 commission of competent judges, the memoir shall be found to be
 a new and interesting addition to knowledge, resting on original
 research. The accompanying memoir, entitled ‘ANCIENT MONUMENTS
 OF THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY,’ etc. etc., having been presented for
 publication, I beg leave to refer the same, through you, to the
 American Ethnological Society, with the request that a committee of
 the members may be appointed to examine and report on the character
 of the work, with reference to the particulars above mentioned.
 If the report of the committee be favorable, the memoir, without
 further consideration, will be accepted for publication; full
 confidence being placed in the ability of the committee to judge of
 the article, and in their caution in making up their opinion.

 “I have the honor to be, very respectfully,
                              “Your ob’t servant,   JOSEPH HENRY,
                                              “Secretary Smithsonian Inst.
 “Hon. ALBERT GALLATIN, President American Ethnological Society.”

       *       *       *       *       *

 “«New York», June 12, 1847.

 “DEAR SIR:—I have the honor to enclose a copy of the proceedings and
 resolutions of the New York Ethnological Society, upon the MS. work
 on American Antiquities, by Messrs. E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis,
 submitted with your letter of the 2d instant.

 “I approve entirely of the resolutions and recommendations of the
 Society. The publication of Mr. C. Atwater, in the first volume of
 the Transactions of the American Antiquarian Society of Worcester,
 which appeared twenty years ago, is as yet, so far as I know, the
 only general account of the antiquarian remains of the West, which
 is entitled to any credit. Yet, many mistakes have been discovered
 in it, and it is very incomplete, and in no degree to be compared to
 the extensive researches of the gentlemen above mentioned. What has
 particularly recommended their labors to me is their love of truth.

 “Such are the combined effects of the fondness for the marvellous,
 of the illusions of the imagination, of credulity, thirst of
 notoriety and lack of discrimination, that, in many specific
 statements, and in almost all the general accounts of our Western
 antiquities, which I have seen, the most vague and fabulous reports
 (independent of most groundless theories), and even flagrant
 impositions, are so mixed with true accounts, as to render it
 almost impossible, even for the American reader, to make the proper
 discrimination, or arrive at a correct estimate of their extent or

 “Whatever may be the intrinsic value of the remains of former times
 which are found in the United States, it is necessary that they
 should at least be correctly described, and that existing gross
 errors should be corrected; and I repeat my conviction that, though
 ardent, Messrs. Squier and Davis are animated by that thorough love
 of truth, which renders their researches worthy of entire confidence.

 “Late Ethnological researches have thrown such light on the History
 of Man, that it is unnecessary to dwell on their general utility.
 With respect to those which relate to the Indians of the United
 States, I am ready to acknowledge, the field is comparatively
 barren, and the results hitherto attained neither satisfactory nor
 refreshing. Still, with proper caution, important information may
 be acquired, on what man, insulated, and without intercourse with
 other nations, can, by his solitary efforts, accomplish. In order,
 however, to attain these results, considerations, foreign to the
 immediate object of this letter, are required, which may hereafter
 be made the subject of another communication.

                 “I have the honor to be, &c.
                                                      “ALBERT GALLATIN.
               “Professor J. HENRY, Secretary Smithsonian Institution.”

       *       *       *       *       *

 “At a regular meeting of the American Ethnological Society, held
 at the house of Hon. ALBERT GALLATIN, on the evening of the 4th
 of June, the President laid before the members a communication
 from Professor J. HENRY, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution;
 transmitting for the examination and opinion of the Society, a MS.
 work on the Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley. On motion,
 the letter and accompanying MS. were referred to a committee,
 consisting of EDWARD ROBINSON, D.D., JOHN R. BARTLETT, Professor
 report upon the same. At a subsequent meeting of this Society, the
 committee submitted the following Report and Resolutions, which were
 unanimously accepted and adopted:—


 “The Committee of the American Ethnological Society, to which was
 referred the communication of the Secretary of the Smithsonian
 Institution, transmitting a manuscript work entitled ‘ANCIENT
 MONUMENTS OF THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY; «comprising the Results of
 Extensive Original Surveys and Explorations», by E. G. SQUIER and E.
 H. DAVIS,’ beg leave to report that—

 “They have examined the work in question, and regard it not only as
 a new and interesting, but an eminently valuable addition to our
 stock of knowledge on a subject little understood, but in which is
 felt a deep and constantly increasing interest, both in our country
 and abroad. In their judgment the work is worthy of the subject,
 and highly creditable to the authors. Its chief features are, a
 scientific arrangement, simplicity and directness of statement, and
 legitimate deduction of facts, while there is no attempt at mere
 speculation or theory. If published, it will be an enduring monument
 to connect the names of the investigators in honorable and lasting
 remembrance with the great subject of American Archæology.

 “The existence and progress of these investigations were made known
 to the Society by correspondence, early in the year 1846; and in
 June of that year, specimens of the relics recovered, accompanied by
 numerous maps and plans of ancient Earthworks and Sectional Views
 of the Mounds from which the remains were taken, were laid before
 the Society by Mr. Squier in person. These excited deep interest
 and surprise in all who saw them; and the Society immediately
 took measures to encourage further investigation, and secure the
 publication, under its own auspices, of the important results
 already obtained. A few months later, the chairman of the present
 committee, being in Ohio, was enabled, through the kindness of
 Messrs. Squier and Davis, to visit several of the more important
 monuments in the immediate vicinity of Chillicothe; and among these
 ‘Mound City,’ so called, from which very many of the minor relics
 and specimens were procured. He was struck with the accuracy of the
 plans and drawings as well as of the accounts which had been laid
 before the Society; and bears full testimony to the fidelity and
 integrity with which the process of investigation and delineation
 has been conducted.

 “During the last and present season the researches of these
 gentlemen have been actively prosecuted and widely extended, and
 the above work, largely illustrated, comprising the results,
 has been prepared. These results are so numerous and important,
 and consequently such is the extent and magnitude of the work
 itself, as to put its publication beyond any means which the
 Society can command. Under these circumstances, your Committee
 learn with pleasure that preliminary arrangements have been made
 for its publication by the Smithsonian Institution, among its
 ‘Contributions to Knowledge.’ It can only be a matter of sincere
 gratification to this Society, to see that which it cannot itself
 accomplish for the history and antiquities of our country, taken
 up and carried out under such favorable auspices; and they cannot
 but rejoice that an opportunity is thus afforded to that noble
 institution of opening its high career, by fostering scientific
 research into the interesting problems connected with the
 Ante-Columbian history and Ancient Monuments of our own country.

 “In view of these facts, your Committee would recommend the adoption
 of the following resolutions by the Society:—

 “Resolved, That this Society regard the researches of Messrs. Squier
 and Davis, as of very great importance in American Archæology, and
 as casting much light upon our Aboriginal Antiquities, especially
 upon the character and habits of the earliest races which had their
 seat in the Mississippi Valley.

 “Resolved, That we regard the work prepared upon this subject, as
 one of great general interest, and as worthy to be adopted for
 publication by the Smithsonian Institution, both as resting on
 original researches, and as affording remarkable illustrations of
 the history of the American Continent.

 “Your Committee would also append to this Report, the accompanying
 letters from Samuel G. Morton, M.D., of Philadelphia, and Hon.
 George P. Marsh, of Vermont, both members of this Society, and joint
 members of this Committee.

 “All of which is respectfully submitted.

    W. W. TURNER,

“«New York», June, 1847.”

       *       *       *       *       *

 “«New- York.» June 9th, 1847.

“I have examined, with much interest and attention, the manuscripts,
drawings, and ancient remains in the possession of Mr. E. G. Squier,
and am happy to say that my previous impressions concerning the value
of the researches of that gentleman and his associate, are fully
confirmed. It is fortunate for the cause of American Archæology, that
the systematic attempt at its elucidation should have been conceived
and executed in so truly philosophical a spirit; and, rich as this
age already is in antiquarian lore, it has, I think, received few
more important contributions than that which the enlightened and
generous zeal of these two private gentlemen is about to confer
upon it. The Smithsonian Collection could not begin with a more
appropriate or creditable essay; and I hope that every facility may
be afforded to the investigators, in bringing before the public the
results of their honorable labors, in as suitable a form and with as
little delay as possible.

 (Signed)   GEO. P. MARSH.”

       *       *       *       *       *

 “«Philadelphia», June 8, 1847

“As a Member of the Committee of the American Ethnological Society,
appointed to report on the Memoir on American Archæology, by Messrs.
E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis, I have great pleasure in saying, that
after a careful and repeated inspection of the materials in the
hands of those gentlemen, I am convinced they constitute by far the
most important contribution to the Archæology of the United States,
that has ever been offered to the public. The number and accuracy of
their plans, sketches, &c., have both interested and surprised me;
and it is gratifying to learn that the preliminary arrangements have
been made for their publication under the honorable auspices of the
Smithsonian Institution.

 (Signed)   “«Samuel George Morton.»”

To ensure accuracy in the present volume, the plates and engravings
have been prepared under the supervision of Mr. E. G. SQUIER, who has
also had the general direction of the press. The sheets as they were
printed, were also examined by Professor W. W. TURNER, of New York,
and Mr. F. A. TEALL. The wood engravings were executed by Messrs. ORR
& RICHARDSON, and Mr. J. W. ORR, from drawings on the blocks, chiefly
by WM. WADE and Mr. HAMILTON BROWN. The Lithographic engraving was
executed by Messrs. SARONY & MAJOR, and the printing by Mr. E. O.









 GEORGE M. DALLAS,       «Vice President of the United States».
 ROGER B. TANEY,         «Chief Justice of the United States».
 WILLIAM W. SEATON,      «Mayor of the City of Washington».

 JAMES A. PEARCE,        «Member of the Senate of the United States».
 SIDNEY BREESE,          «Member of the Senate of the United States».
 JEFFERSON DAVIS,        «Member of the Senate of the United States».

 HENRY W. HILLIARD,      «Member of the House of Representatives».
 GEORGE P. MARSH,        «Member of the House of Representatives».
 ROBERT MCCLELLAND,      «Member of the House of Representatives».

 RUFUS CHOATE,           «Citizen of Massachusetts».
 GIDEON HAWLEY,          «Citizen of New York».
 WILLIAM C. PRESTON,     «Citizen of South Carolina».
 RICHARD RUSH,           «Citizen of Pennsylvania».
 ALEXANDER D. BACHE,     «Mem. of Nat. Inst., Washington».
 JOSEPH G. TOTTEN,       «Mem. of Nat. Inst., Washington».


 JAMES K. POLK,           «President of the United States».
 GEORGE M. DALLAS,        «Vice President of the United States».
 JAMES BUCHANAN,          «Secretary of State of the United States».
 ROBERT J. WALKER,        «Secretary of the Treasury of the United States».
 WILLIAM L. MARCY,        «Secretary of War of the United States».
 JOHN Y. MASON,           «Secretary of the Navy of the United States».
 CAVE JOHNSON,            «Post Master General of the United States».
 ISAAC TOUCEY,            «Attorney General of the United States».
 ROGER B. TANEY,          «Chief Justice of the United States».
 EDMUND BURKE,            «Commissioner of Patents of the United States».
 WILLIAM W. SEATON,       «Mayor of the City of Washington».


 [No Honorary Members have yet been elected.]




 JUNE 1847.



 This work is respectfully


 CONTENTS, … xviii












       CLAY, … 186–196











           TITLES                                    Facing page

 I.        View of ancient works at Marietta,                 ----
 II.       Map of a section of 12 miles of Scioto valley,        3
 III.      Map of a section of 6 miles of Miami valley,          4
 No. 2.    Map of 6 miles of Paint creek valley,                 4
 IV.       Stone work near Bourneville, Ross co., Ohio,         11
 V.        Fort Hill, Highland county, Ohio,                    14
 VI.       Fortified Hill, Butler county, Ohio,                 16
 VII.      Fort Ancient, Warren county, Ohio,                   18
 VIII.     Ancient work, Butler county, Ohio,                   21
 No. 2.    Ancient work, Butler county, Ohio,                   22
 No. 3.    Ancient work near Piqua, Miami co., Ohio,            23
 No. 4.    Ancient work near Dayton, Montgomery county, Ohio,   23
 IX.       Fortified Hill near Granville, Licking co., Ohio,    24
 No. 2.    Fortified Hill at the mouth of Great Miami river,    25
 No. 3.    Ancient work near Lexington, Kentucky,               26
 X.        Ancient work, Ross county, Ohio,                     26
 XI.       Ancient work, Butler county, Ohio,                   29
 No. 2.    Ancient work, Butler county, Ohio,                   29
 No. 3.    Ancient work, Butler county, Ohio,                   30
 XII.      Stone work on Duck river, Tennessee,                 31
 No. 2.    Ancient work, Preble county, Ohio,                   33
 No. 3.    Ancient work, Greene county, Ohio,                   33
 No. 4.    Ancient work, Ross county, Ohio,                     34
 XIII.     Ancient work, Bourbon county, Kentucky,              35
 No. 2.    Colerain works, Butler county, Ohio,                 35
 XIV.      Ancient work, Pickaway county, Ohio,                 36
 No. 2.    Ancient Work, Franklin county, Ohio,                 36
 No. 3.    Ancient work, Fayette county, Kentucky,              36
 No. 4.    Ancient work, Fayette county, Kentucky,              36
 XV.       Ancient work, Huron county, Ohio,                    37
 No. 2.    Ancient work, Ashtabula county, Ohio,                38
 No. 3.    Ancient work, Cuyahoga county, Ohio,                 38
 No. 4.    Ancient work, Lorain county, Ohio,                   39
 No. 5.    Ancient work, Lorain county, Ohio,                   39
 No. 6.    Ancient work, Cuyahoga county, Ohio,                 40
 No. 7.    Ancient work Cuyahoga county Ohio                    40
 No. 8.    Ancient work Wood county Ohio                        40
 XVI.      High Bank works Ross county Ohio                     50
 XVII.     Hopeton works Ross county Ohio                       51
 XVIII.    Cedar Bank works Ross county Ohio                    52
 XIX.      Mound City Ross county Ohio                          54
 XX.       Ancient work Ross county Ohio                        56
 XXI.      Ancient work Ross county Ohio                        57
 No. 2.    Ancient work Ross county, Ohio                       57
 No. 3.    Ancient work Ross county Ohio                        58
 No. 4.    Ancient work Ross county Ohio                        59
 XXII.     Junction Group Ross county Ohio                      60
 No. 2.    Blackwater Group Ross county, Ohio                   61
 XXIII.    Dunlap’s works Ross county Ohio                      63
 No. 2.    Ancient work Athens county Ohio                      64
 XXIV.     Ancient work Pike county Ohio                        66
 XXV.      Newark works Licking county Ohio,                    67
 XXVI.     Marietta works Washington county Ohio                73
 XXVII.    Portsmouth works, Scioto county Ohio                 77
 XXVIII.   Portsmouth works Group A                             78
 No. 2.    Portsmouth works Group B                             80
 No. 3.    Portsmouth works Group C                             81
 XXIX.     Ancient works Montgomery county, Ohio                82
 No. 2.    Ancient works, Scioto county, Ohio,                  83
 No. 3.    Ancient works Franklin county, Ohio,                 84
 XXX.      Ancient works, Butler county Ohio                    85
 No. 2.    Ancient works Butler county Ohio                     85
 No. 3.    Ancient works Ross county Ohio                       86
 No. 4.    Stone work Ross county, Ohio                         87
 XXXI.     Graded way, Pike county, Ohio,                       88
 No. 2.    Ancient work, Butler county, Ohio,                   90
 No. 3.    Ancient work Butler county Ohio                      90
 No. 4.    Ancient work Butler county Ohio,                     90
 XXXII.    Ancient work, Butler county Ohio                     91
 No. 2.    Ancient work Washington county Ohio                  92
 No. 3.    Ancient work Ross county Ohio                        92
 No. 4.    Ancient work Ross county Ohio                        92
 No. 5.    Ancient work Ross county Ohio                        92
 No. 6.    Ancient work Montgomery co Kentucky,                 93
 XXXIII.   Ancient work Montgomery co Kentucky,                 93
 No. 2.    Ancient work Randolph county, Indiana                94
 XXXIV.    Ancient work, Clermont county, Ohio,                 94
 No. 2.    Ancient work Clermont county, Ohio                   95
 No. 3.    Ancient work, Greene county Ohio                     95
 No. 4.    Ancient work Greene county, Ohio                     95
 XXXV.     Great Serpent, Adams county Ohio                     96
 XXXVI.    The Cross Pickaway county, Ohio                      97
 No. 2.    The Alligator, Licking county Ohio                   98
 No. 3.    Ancient work, Fairfield county Ohio                 100
 No. 4.    Map of section of Newark valley,                    101
 XXXVII.   Ancient work Wateree District S. C.                 105
 XXXVIII.  Ancient works on Etowah river, Alabama              108
 ----      Ancient works on Tennessee river, Alabama           109
 No. 2.    Ancient works, Chickasaw surveys, Miss.             110
 No. 3.    Ancient works, Lafayette county, Miss.              111
 No. 4.    Ancient works, Prairie Jefferson, Louisiana.        113
 XXXIX.    Ancient work, Madison parish, Louisiana.            115
           Ancient work, Bolivar county, Mississippi.          116
 XL.       Ancient works, Dade county, Wisconsin.              126
 XLI.      Ancient works, Dade county, Wisconsin.              127
 No. 2.    Ancient works, Dade county, Wisconsin.              127
 XLII.     Ancient works, Dade county, Wisconsin.              128
 No. 2.    Ancient works, Richland county, Wisconsin.          128
 XLIII.    Ancient works, Grant county, Wisconsin.             129
           Nos. 2 to 13, various localities.                   130
 XLIV.     Ancient work on Rock river, Wisconsin.              131
           Nos. 2 to 8, various localities.                    132
 XLV.      View of great mound at Marietta.                    138
 XLVI.     Pottery from the mounds.                            139
 XLVII.    Crania from the mounds.                             288
 XLVIII.   Crania from the mounds.                             288

 LITHOGRAPHERS.—Sarony & Major, 117 Fulton street, New York.

 WOOD ENGRAVERS.—Orr & Richardson, 90 Fulton street, New York.

 PRINTER.—Edward O. Jenkins, 114 Nassau street, New York.


           “Date of
           survey.”  Surveyors                           Delineators.

 I.        ----                                          Charles Sullivan,
 II.       1847                                          E. G. Squier,
 III.      1840                                          James McBride,
 No. 2.    1847                                          E. G. Squier,
 IV.       1847      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis.       E. G. Squier,
 V.        1846      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis.       E. G. Squier,
 VI.       1836      James McBride.                      James McBride.
 VII.      1842      John Locke, M.D.                    John Locke.
 VIII.     1840      James McBride and J. W. Erwin,      James McBride,
 No. 2.    1840      James McBride J. W. Erwin,          James McBride,
 No. 3.    1846      James McBride,                      James McBride,
 No. 4.    1846      James McBride and Sam. Forrer,      James McBride,
 IX.       1847      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis,       E. G. Squier.
 No. 2.    ----
 No. 3.    1818      C. S. Rafinesque,                   C. S. Rafinesque.
 X.        1845      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis,       E. G. Squier,
 XI.       1836      James McBride and J. W. Erwin,      J. W. Erwin,
 No. 2.    1832      James McBride,                      James McBride.
 No. 3.    1840      James McBride and J. W. Erwin,      James McBride,
 XII.      ----      C. S. Rafinesque,                   C. S. Rafinesque,
 No. 2.    1846      James McBride.                      James McBride,
 No. 3.    1846      S. T. Oweins and L. K. Dille,       S. T. Oweins,
 No. 4.    1846      P. N. White,                        P. N. White,
 XIII.     1820      C. S. Rafinesque,                   C. S. Rafinesque,
 No. 2.    1836      James McBride and J. W. Erwin,      James McBride,
 XIV.      ----      Charles Whittlesey,                 Charles Whittlesey,
 No. 2.    ----      Charles Whittlesey,                 Charles Whittlesey,
 No. 3.    1820      C. S. Rafinesque.                   C. S. Rafinesque,
 No. 4.    1820      C. S. Rafinesque.                   C. S. Rafinesque.
 XV.       ----      Charles Whittlesey,                 Charles Whittlesey,
 No. 2.    ----      Charles Whittlesey,                 Charles Whittlesey,
 No. 3.    ----      Charles Whittlesey,                 Charles Whittlesey,
 No. 4.    ----      Charles Whittlesey,                 Charles Whittlesey,
 No. 5.    ----      Charles Whittlesey,                 Charles Whittlesey,
 No. 6.    ----      Charles Whittlesey,                 Charles Whittlesey,
 No. 7.    ----      Charles Whittlesey                  Charles Whittlesey
 No. 8.    ----      Charles Whittlesey                  Charles Whittlesey
 XVI.      1846      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier
 XVII.     1845      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier
 XVIII.    1846      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier
 XIX.      1846      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier
 XX.       1846      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier
 XXI.      1847      E. G. Squier                        E. G. Squier
 No. 2.    1847      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier
 No. 3.    1846      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier
 No. 4.    1846      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier
 XXII.     1845      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier
 No. 2.    1847      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier
 XXIII.    1846      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier
 No. 2.    1836      S. P. Hildreth                      S. P. Hildreth,
 XXIV.     1847      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier,
 XXV.      1836      C Whittlesey E. G. S. and E. H. D.
 XXVI.     1837      C Whittlesey and E. G. Squier       Charles Whittlesey,
 XXVII.    1847                                          E. G. Squier,
 XXVIII.   1846      E. G. Squier and D Morton           E. G. Squier,
 No. 2.    1847      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis,       E. G. Squier,
 No. 3.    1846      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis,       E. G. Squier,
 XXIX.     ----      James McBride                       James McBride,
 No. 2.    ----      Charles Whittlesey,                 Charles Whittlesey,
 No. 3.    1823      Charles Whittlesey,                 Charles Whittlesey,
 XXX.      1840      James McBride,                      James McBride,
 No. 2.    1847      James McBride and J. W. Erwin,      James McBride,
 No. 3.    1845      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier,
 No. 4.    1847      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier,
 XXXI.     1846      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier,
 No. 2.    ----      James McBride and J. W. Erwin       J. W. Erwin
 No. 3.    ----      James McBride and J. W. Erwin       J. W. Erwin
 No. 4.    1842      James McBride and J. W. Erwin       James McBride
 XXXII.    ----      James McBride and J. W. Erwin       James McBride
 No. 2.    1846
 No. 3.    1846      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier,
 No. 4.    1846      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier,
 No. 5.    1847      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier,
 No. 6.    1818      C. S. Rafinesque                    C. S. Rafinesque,
 XXXIII.   1818      C. S. Rafinesque                    C. S. Rafinesque,
 No. 2.    1847      James McBride,                      James McBride,
 XXXIV.    1847      E. H. Davis,                        E. H. Davis,
 No. 2.    ----      Gen Lytle,                          Gen Lytle,
 No. 3.    1846      S. Kyle and L. K. Dillo
 No. 4.    1846      S. Kyle and L. K. Dillo
 XXXV.     1846      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier
 XXXVI.    1847      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier
 No. 2.    1847      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier
 No. 3.    1847      E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis        E. G. Squier
 No. 4.    1847                                          E. G. Squier
 XXXVII.   ----      William Blanding                    William Blanding
 XXXVIII.  ----      C. S. Rafinesque.                   C. S. Rafinesque.
 ----      ----
 No. 2.    1846      R. Morris.                          R. Morris.
 No. 3.    1846      R. Morris.                          R. Morris.
 No. 4.    ----      C. G. Forshey.                      C. G. Forshey.
 XXXIX.    ----      James Hough.                        James Hough.
           ----      James Hough.                        James Hough.
 XL.       ----      R. C. Taylor.                       R. C. Taylor.
 XLI.      ----      R. C. Taylor and John Locke.
 No. 2.    ----      John Locke.                         John Locke.
 XLII.     ----      John Locke.                         John Locke.
 No. 2.    ----      S. Taylor.                          S. Taylor.
 XLIII.    ----      S. Taylor.                          S. Taylor.
           ----      S. Taylor.                          S. Taylor.
 XLIV.     ----
           ----      S. Taylor.                          S. Taylor.
 XLV.      1847                                          C. Sullivan.
 XLVI.     ----                                          E. G. Squier.
 XLVII.    ----                                          J. French.
 XLVIII.   ----                                          J. French.


 FIG.                                                      PAGE.

 1.    View of Great Mound at Miamisburgh, Ohio,               3
 2.    Section, exhibiting Septaria,                          13
 3.    Group of Mounds within an enclosure,                   27
 4.    Plan of Ancient Work, Lorain county, Ohio,             39
 5.    Plan of Ancient Work, Lorain county, Ohio,             39
 6.    Plan of Ancient Work, Cuyahoga county, Ohio,           40
 7.    Plan of Ancient Work, Cuyahoga county, Ohio,           40
 8.    Plan of Ancient Work, Wood county, Ohio,               40
 9.    Circle and truncated Pyramid,                          53
 10.   Plan of Ancient Work, at Circleville, Ohio,            60
 11.   Plan of Sacred Enclosure, Pike county, Ohio,           66
 12.   Bird-shaped Mound, Newark, Ohio,                       68
 13.   View of Gateway of Octagon, Newark, Ohio,              69
 14.   Truncated Mound covering gateway,                      69
 15.   Crown-work of Circle,                                  69
 16.   View of “Observatory” at Newark,                       70
 17.   “Elevated Squares” at Marietta, Ohio,                  74
 18.   Plan of Ancient Work, Parkersburgh, Virginia,          77
 19.   Circle and Mound, Greenup county, Kentucky,            82
 20.   Graded Way, Piketon, Ohio,                             88
 21.   Plan of Ancient Work in Alabama,                      109
 22.   Plan of Ancient Work in Bolivar county, Mississippi,  116
 23.   Public Square of the Muscogulges,                     121
 24.   Mound at Mount Royal, Florida,                        122
 25.   Plan of Mound and Parallels,                          122
 26.   Plan of Works in Wisconsin,                           133
 27.   Group illustrating the forms of the Mounds,           139
 28.   Hill Mounds,                                          141
 29.   Section of Sacrificial Mound,                         144
 30.   Structure of Mounds,                                  144
 31.   Section of Sacrificial Mound,                         147
 32.   Plan of Altar,                                        147
 33.   Section of Sacrificial Mound,                         148
 34.   Section of Sacrificial Mound,                         149
 35.   Section of Altar,                                     150
 36.   Section of Altar,                                     150
 37.   Section of Sacrificial Mound,                         152
 38.   Plan of Altar,                                        152
 39.   Section of Sacrificial Mound,                         153
 40.   Position of recent deposits,                          153
 41.   Section of Sacrificial Mound,                         154
 42.   Plan of Excavation, etc.                              154
 43.   Section of Sacrificial Mound,                         155
 44.   Section of Sacrificial Mound,                         156
 45.   Section of Sacrificial Mound,                         156
 46.   Section of a Stratified Mound,                        158
 47.   Section of a Mound,                                   159
 48.   View of Elliptical Mound,                             160
 49.   Group of Sepulchral Mounds,                           161
 50.   Section of Sepulchral Mound,                          162
 51.   Plan of Sepulchral Chamber,                           162
 52.   Section of Sepulchral Mound,                          164
 53.   Position of Skeleton,                                 164
 54.   Section of Sepulchral Mound,                          165
 55.   Section of Grave creek Mound,                         169
 56.   View of Grave creek Mound,                            169
 57.   Plans of groups of Mounds,                            170
 58.   Mounds of Oregon,                                     171
 59.   Terraced Mound,                                       173
 60.   Plan of Cahokia Mound,                                174
 61.   Lozenge-shaped Mound,                                 175
 62.   Section of a truncated Mound,                         176
 63.   Plan of an Ancient octagonal Terrace,                 176
 64.   Plan of an Ancient rectangular Terrace,               176
 65.   Plan of Temple Mound with graded ascent,              177
 66.   Group of Sepulchral Mounds,                           177
 67.   Plan and Section of Anomalous Mound,                  178
 68.   Ancient Pipe from the Mounds,                         179
 69.   Section of Anomalous Mound,                           180
 70.   Conical Mound,                                        185
 71.   Ancient Pottery, three figures,                       191
 72.   Ancient Pottery, three figures,                       192
 73.   Ancient Earthen Vessel,                               192
 74.   Ancient Earthen Vessel,                               192
 75.   Ancient Terra Cotta,                                  193
 76.   Terra Cotta from the Mounds,                          194
 77.   Terra Cotta from the Mounds,                          194
 78.   Terra Cotta from the Mounds,                          194
 79.   Terra Cotta from the Mounds,                          194
 80.   Terra Cotta from the Mounds,                          194
 81.   Copper Axe from the Mounds,                           197
 82.   Earthen Pipes, two figures,                           197
 83.   Adjustment of Ancient Axes,                           198
 84.   Copper Axe from the Mounds,                           199
 85.   Copper Gravers from the Mounds, five figures,         200
 86.   Copper Spear-head and Knife,                          201
 87.   Ancient Copper Implements, five figures,              201
 88.   Copper Bracelets from the Mounds,                     204
 89.   Copper Gorgets from the Mounds,                       205
 90.   Copper Ornament from the Mounds,                      206
 91.   Copper Ornament from the Mounds,                      206
 92.   Ancient Work-block of stone,                          206
 93.   Copper Beads from the Mounds,                         207
 94.   Copper Fibulæ from the Mounds,                        207
 95.   Copper Bands, etc.,                                   207
 96.   Silver Beads from the Mounds,                         207
 97.   Silver Cross,                                         208
 98.   An article of Lead,                                   209
 99.   Flint Spear-heads, three figures,                     211
 100.  Quartz Spear-head,                                    211
 101.  Ancient Mexican «mahquahuitl»,                        211
 102.  Sword of Pacific Islanders,                           211
 103.  Arrow-heads, nine figures,                            212
 104.  Hornstone Disks, three figures,                       214
 105.  Flint Knives, three figures,                          215
 106.  Hematite Cutting Implements,                          215
 107.  Slate Cutting Implements,                             216
 108.  Ancient Stone Axe,                                    216
 109.  Ancient Stone Axe, four figures,                      217
 110.  Stone Axe from Mounds,                                217
 111.  Stone Hand-axe,                                       218
 112.  Ancient Stone-axe, four figures,                      218
 113.  Ancient Scandinavian Axes, two figures,               218
 114.  Ancient ornamented Axes, six figures,                 218
 115.  Ancient ornamented Axe,                               219
 116.  Ancient Club-head of Stone,                           219
 117.  Ancient Club-head of Stone,                           219
 118.  Pestles of Stone, two figures,                        220
 119.  Implements of Bone, three figures.                    220
 120.  Ancient Bone Awls,                                    220
 121.  Discoidal Stones, six figures,                        221
 122.  Tubes of Stone, two figures,                          224
 123.  Ornamented Stone Tube,                                225
 124.  Stone Tube,                                           226
 125.  Stone Tubes,                                          227
 126.  Ancient Mound Pipe,                                   227
 127.  Granite Pipe,                                         228
 128.  Modern Indian Pipes,                                  230
 129.  Beads of Shell,                                       232
 130.  Beads of Shell, three figures,                        233
 131.  Pendants, eight figures,                              234
 132.  Pendants of Stone,                                    235
 133.  Stone Gorgets, two figures,                           236
 134.  Stone Gorget,                                         237
 135.  Stone Gorget,                                         237
 136.  Stone Gorgets, seventeen figures,                     237
 137.  Section of Gorget,                                    238
 138.  Stone Ornaments,                                      239
 139.  Prismatic Tube,                                       240
 140.  Articles of Stone,                                    240
 141.  Mica Ornaments,                                       240
 142.  Sculptured head from the Mounds, two views,           244
 143.  Sculptured head from the Mounds, two views,           244
 144.  Sculptured head from the Mounds, two views,           245
 145.  Sculptured head from the Mounds, two views,           245
 146.  Ancient Sculpture,                                    247
 147.  Sculptured Pipe,                                      247
 148.  Sculptured Pipe,                                      248
 149.  Sculptured Pipe,                                      249
 150.  Mask of Stone,                                        250
 151.  Mask of Stone,                                        251
 152.  Mask of Stone,                                        251
 153.  Sculpture of the Manitus,                             251
 154.  Sculpture of the Manitus,                             252
 155.  Sculpture of the Beaver,                              256
 156.  Sculpture of the Otter,                               256
 157.  Sculpture of the Otter,                               256
 158.  Sculpture of the Panther,                             256
 159.  Sculpture of the Panther,                             256
 160.  Sculpture of the Panther,                             256
 161.  Sculptured head of Elk,                               257
 162.  Sculptured Head,                                      258
 163.  Sculptured Head,                                      258
 164.  Sculpture of tufted Heron,                            259
 165.  Sculpture of Eagle,                                   259
 166.  Sculpture of Hawk,                                    261
 167.  Sculpture of Swallow,                                 261
 168.  Sculpture of Summer Duck,                             261
 169.  Sculpture of Toucan?                                  261
 170.  Sculpture of Grouse,                                  261
 171.  Sculpture of Turkey Buzzard?                          261
 172.  Sculpture of Paroquet,                                263
 173.  Sculpture of Bird                                     263
 174.  Sculpture of Bird                                     263
 175.  Sculpture of Bird                                     263
 176.  Sculpture of Bird                                     263
 177.  Sculpture of Bird                                     264
 178.  Sculpture of Toucan,                                  266
 179.  Sculpture of unknown Bird,                            267
 180.  Heads of Eagles,                                      267
 181.  Head of Raven?                                        267
 182.  Sculpture of unknown Bird,                            267
 183.  Sculpture of Toad,                                    269
 184.  Sculpture of Toad,                                    269
 185.  Sculpture of Frog,                                    269
 186.  Sculpture of Rattlesnake,                             269
 187.  Sculptured head of Goose,                             269
 188.  Sculptured Death’s Head,                              269
 189.  Sculptured Head of Bear?                              271
 190.  Sculptured Head of Wolf?                              271
 191.  Sculptured Head of unknown animal,                    271
 192.  Sculptured Head of unknown animal,                    271
 193.  Sculptured Head of unknown animal,                    271
 194.  Front View of Tablet found at Cincinnati,             275
 195.  Reverse of same,                                      275
 196.  Carving of Rattlesnake, coiled,                       276
 197.  Shark’s Teeth, fossil,                                282
 198.  Marine Shell, pyrula perversa,                        283
 199.  Section of Hill Mound,                                289
 200.  Inscribed Rock on Guyandotte river, Va.,              294
 201.  Inscribed Rock on Guyandotte river, Va.,              295
 202.  Inscribed Rock on Guyandotte river, Va.,              295
 203.  Inscribed Rock on Guyandotte river, Va.,              296
 204.  Inscribed Rock on Guyandotte river, Va.,              296
 205.  Inscribed Rock on Guyandotte river, Va.,              297
 206.  Inscribed Rock on Ohio river,                         298
 207.  Site of Sculptured Rocks of the Guyandotte            299


The fact of the existence, within the valley of the Mississippi river
and its tributaries, of many ancient monuments of human labor and
skill, seems to have escaped the notice of the adventurers who first
made known to the world the extent and fertility of that vast region.
Except some incidental allusions by La Vega, and the Portuguese
chronicler of De Soto’s unfortunate expedition, to structures
bearing some analogy to those of the West, (and which seem to have
been occupied, if they were not built, by the Indians of Florida,)
we find no mention made of these monuments by any of the earlier
explorers. No sooner, however, had trade been opened with the Indians
beyond the Alleghanies, and the valley of the Mississippi begun to
attract the attention of the rival nations that laid claim to this
division of the continent, than the less prominent features of the
country became subjects of observation and remark. Then, for the
first time, we find these ancient monuments distinctly alluded to.
It was not however until some time afterwards, when settlements had
been established at various prominent points within the valley, and
the tide of emigration began to flow thitherward, that any special
attention was directed to them. Carver in 1776, and Hearte and others
in 1791, were among the earliest of these observers at the North.
Their accounts, however, served scarcely to make known the existence
of these remains, and failed to convey any clear idea of their
extent or character. But as the country became better known and more
densely populated, notices of their existence became more numerous,
and some detailed accounts of particular groups were presented to
the world, in the form of incidental notices in books of travel and
local gazetteers, or in contributions to the pages of periodicals,
and to the transactions of learned societies. HARRIS, in his “«Tour
into the Territory north-west of the Ohio»,” published in 1805,
noticed at considerable length the ancient remains at Marietta on
the Ohio river; and H. H. BRACKENRIDGE, one of the most accurate
of the early explorers of the West, in his “«Views of Louisiana»,”
published in 1814, and in a paper in the first volume of the new
series of the Transactions of the “American Philosophical Society,”
presented accounts of ancient remains at various points, together
with some general remarks upon our antiquities, distinguished for
their comprehensiveness and sound philosophical spirit. Bishop
MADISON of Virginia, in 1803, addressed to Dr. Barton, then Vice
President of the American Philosophical Society, a communication of
considerable length “upon the supposed fortifications of the western
country,” which was published in the sixth volume of the old series
of the Transactions of that institution. It contains some interesting
facts relative to the ancient remains found within the valley of
the great Kenhawa river, in Virginia, and is principally devoted
to combating the popular notion that «all» the ancient earthworks
were of defensive origin. BARTRAM, in his animated Journal of
Travels in Florida, published in 1779, makes frequent mention of the
ancient remains which fell under his notice. His accounts have been
amply confirmed by later observations, and they may be regarded as
presenting a very accurate view of their general character. Previous
to Bartram’s expedition, Adair, in his “Account of the American
Indians,” published in 1775, mentioned the existence of these
remains, but gave no details respecting them.

In 1817, DE WITT CLINTON, whose active mind neglected no department
of inquiry, read a paper before the “Literary and Philosophical
Society of New York,” (an institution no longer existing,) upon the
“Antiquities of the western part of New York,” which was subsequently
published in a pamphlet form. It gave a connected view of these
antiquities so far as then known, and indicated their character with
such clearness, as to identify them at once as belonging to that
imposing class of remains found in the valley of the Mississippi.
MCCAULEY, in his “«History of New York»,” published at a later
period, (1829,) added considerably to the number of facts presented

Among the earliest and more important contributions to the general
stock of information respecting the western monuments, is the
chapter entitled “Antiquities,” contained in “«The Natural and
Statistical View of Cincinnati and the Miami country»,” by DANIEL
DRAKE, M.D., published in 1815. It not only embraces many facts,
but is free from the tendency towards exaggeration which has been
the prevailing fault of most that has been written upon the subject
of American Antiquities. In connection with what was published by
Mr. BRACKENRIDGE, and at a subsequent date by the late President
HARRISON, (Address before the Historical Society of Ohio, 1832,) it
presents a better view of the ancient remains of the region north of
the Ohio, than can be obtained from any other source,—Mr. ATWATER’S
Memoir, in the Transactions of the American Antiquarian Society,
alone excepted.

It would be impossible, as it is unnecessary, particularly to
point out all that has been published upon this subject, chiefly
consisting, as it does, of detached and incidental observations.
In addition to the several authorities above named, we may mention
Prof. RAFINESQUE, CHARLES WHITTLESEY, etc., etc., as among those
who have contributed to the general stock of information upon this

The first attempt towards a general account of the ancient
monuments of the West, was made by Mr. CALEB ATWATER, who deserves
the credit of being the pioneer in this department. His Memoir,
constituting 150 octavo pages, was published in the first volume
of the “Archæologia Americana,” in 1819. It contains plans and
descriptions of a considerable number of ancient works,—embracing the
imposing structures at Marietta, Newark, Portsmouth, Circleville,
etc., etc.,—with accounts of a variety of ancient remains found in
the mounds. It gives a better conception of the number, magnitude,
and more obvious characteristics of the monuments treated of, than
was before possessed, and for a time appeared to have satisfied
public inquiry. It contains many errors, for which however we can
find a ready apology in the unsettled state of the country, and
the attendant difficulties of investigation at the time it was
written,—errors which, under present advantages of research, would be

The facts presented by the earlier of the authorities above named,
have been collected by various authors, either in support of a
favorite hypothesis, or with a view of conveying to the world some
conception of the antiquities of our country. These compilations,
however, have proved eminently unsatisfactory, not less from the
vague nature of the original accounts, than from the circumstance
that they were in most instances mixed up with the crudest
speculations and the wildest conjectures. Even when this was not
the case, the fact that the original observations were made in a
disconnected and casual manner, served still further to confuse the
mind of the student and render generalization impossible. It was
under an impression of existing deficiencies in these respects,—the
paucity of facts, and the loose manner in which most of them had
been presented,—that the investigations recorded in this memoir
were commenced and prosecuted. At the outset, as indispensable to
independent judgment, all preconceived notions were abandoned,
and the work of research commenced «de novo», as if nothing had
been known or said concerning the remains to which attention was
directed. It was concluded that if these monuments were capable of
reflecting any certain light upon the grand archæological questions
connected with the primitive history of the American Continent, the
origin, migrations and early state of the American race, that then
they should be more carefully and minutely, and above all, more
systematically investigated.

The locality chosen for the commencement of operations, is a section
of the Scioto river and Paint creek valleys, of which the city of
Chillicothe is the centre, and which possesses a deserved celebrity
for its beauty, unexampled fertility, and the great number, size, and
variety of its ancient remains. Situated in the middle of southern
Ohio, and possessing a mild and salubrious climate, this seems to
have been one of the centres of ancient population; and, probably,
no other equal portion of the Mississippi basin furnishes so rich
and interesting a field for the antiquarian. A glance at the “«Map
of a Section of Twelve Miles of the Scioto Valley, with its Ancient
Monuments»,” Plate II, will fully illustrate this remark.

The plan of operations was agreed upon, and the field-work commenced,
early in the spring of 1845. Subsequently, the plan was greatly
extended, and the investigations were carried on, over Ohio and the
adjacent States, with slight interruption, up to the summer of 1847.

The body of this memoir will indicate with sufficient clearness, the
mode in which these investigations were conducted, and the extent to
which they were prosecuted. It is perhaps enough here to say, that
the surveys of ancient works were, for the most part, made by the
authors in person, and that the excavations of mounds, etc., were all
of them conducted under their personal direction and supervision.
Care was exercised to note down, on the spot, every fact which it
was thought might be of value, in the solution of the problems of
the origin and purposes of the remains under notice; and particular
attention was bestowed in observing the dependencies of the position,
structure, and contents of the various works in respect to each other
and the general features of the country. Indeed, no exertion was
spared to ensure entire accuracy, and the compass, line, and rule
were alone relied upon, in all matters where an approximate estimate
might lead to erroneous conclusions.

The ancient enclosures and groups of works personally examined or
surveyed, are upwards of one hundred in number. Some of these had
before been noticed, but most are now for the first time presented
to the world. About two hundred mounds, of all forms and sizes,
and occupying every variety of position, have also been excavated.
Several thousand remains of ancient art were collected in the course
of these investigations, chiefly from the mounds themselves. These
constitute a cabinet, as valuable in its extent, as it is interesting
in the great variety and singular character of the illustrations
which it furnishes of the condition of the minor arts, and the
connections and communications of the people by whom these monuments
were erected.

The prosecution of these researches naturally led to an acquaintance
and correspondence with a large number of gentlemen in various
parts of the Union, who felt interested in them, or who had devoted
attention to the same subject. All of these have kindly rendered
their services in cases where they could prove of value, or have
freely contributed the results of their own labors to complete the
design of the authors, in presenting as full and comprehensive a view
of the ancient monuments of our country, as private means and limited
facilities would allow.

First among these, it will not be invidious to name JAMES MCBRIDE,
Esq., of Hamilton, Butler county, Ohio, whose valuable contributions
constitute an important feature in the memoir herewith presented.
This gentleman, residing for a long time in the centre of the fertile
valley of the Great Miami river, amidst the numerous evidences of
ancient population with which that valley abounds, has devoted
a large proportion of his time to their attentive examination.
Personally, and with the assistance of J. W. ERWIN, Esq., resident
engineer on the Miami canal, he has made numerous surveys of ancient
enclosures and groups of works in that valley, distinguished for
their minute fidelity. He also, without however resorting very
extensively to direct excavations, has collected an interesting
cabinet of aboriginal relics. Anxious to contribute his share to
whatever might elucidate the subject of American Archæology, Mr.
MCBRIDE, with a generous liberality, placed in the hands of the
authors his notes, plans, and drawings, without restriction, to be
used as they deemed proper. This tender was accepted in the same
spirit it was made, and the materials thus furnished have been freely
used in the succeeding pages, where they rank second to none in
interest and value.

Among the most zealous investigators in the field of American
antiquarian research, is CHARLES WHITTLESEY, Esq., of Cleveland,
formerly Topographic Engineer of Ohio. His surveys and observations,
carried on for many years and over a wide field, have been both
numerous and accurate, and are among the most valuable, in all
respects, of any hitherto made. Although Mr. Whittlesey, in
conjunction with JOSEPH SULLIVANT, Esq., of Columbus, Ohio,
originally contemplated a joint work, in which the results of his
investigations should be embodied, he has nevertheless, with a
liberality which will be not less appreciated by the public than
by the authors, contributed to this memoir about twenty plans of
ancient works, which, with the accompanying explanations and general
observations, will be found embodied in the following pages. Relating
principally to the aboriginal monuments of northern Ohio, (as do
those of Mr. McBride to the remains of western Ohio,) they contribute
much to the interest and completeness of this memoir. It is to be
hoped the public may yet be put in possession of the entire results
of Mr. Whittlesey’s labor, which could not fail of adding greatly to
our stock of knowledge on this interesting subject.

Acknowledgment is also due to Rev. R. MORRIS, of Mount Sylvan,
Lafayette county, Mississippi, for valuable facts relating to the
monuments of the South. Although but recently commenced, Mr. Morris’s
investigations have been prosecuted in a manner which gives promise
of important results.

It will be observed that several plans and notices of ancient works
are presented in the succeeding chapters, upon the authority of the
late Prof. C. S. RAFINESQUE. This gentleman, while living, devoted
considerable attention to the antiquities of the Mississippi valley,
and published several brief papers relating to them. His notes
and plans, for the most part brief, crude, and imperfect, at his
death found their way into the possession of BRANTZ MAYER, Esq., of
Baltimore, late Secretary of the American Legation to Mexico. This
gentleman placed them in the hands of the authors, with liberty to
make use of the information which they contained. They, however,
have chosen to avail themselves of this permission, only so far as
to adopt Prof. Rafinesque’s plans, etc., in cases where they have
either been able to verify them in person, or to assure themselves by
collateral evidence of their accuracy in all essential particulars.
His notes are principally important, as indicating the localities of
many interesting monuments, rather than as conveying any satisfactory
information concerning them.

To SAMUEL GEORGE MORTON, M.D., of Philadelphia, the eminent author
of “«Crania Americana»,” is acknowledgment especially due, not only
for the warm interest manifested in these investigations from their
commencement, but for the use of valuable manuscripts relating to
our antiquities,—the collections of many years of laborious research
in collateral departments. Among these is the brief account of the
ancient remains on the Wateree river in South Carolina, by Dr.
WILLIAM BLANDING; and also the highly important account of the
monuments of the States bordering the Gulf of Mexico, by WILLIAM
BARTRAM, the first naturalist who penetrated the dense tropical
forests of Florida. The history of the MSS. from which the latter
account was taken, is unknown. It found its way by accident into the
hands of its present possessor. It consists of answers to a series of
questions, by a second person, (probably Dr. Barton,) relating to the
history, religion, manners, institutions, etc., of the tribes which
composed the Creek confederacy, and is undoubtedly the most complete
and accurate account of those Indians in existence.

Dr. S. P. HILDRETH, of Marietta, and Prof. JOHN LOCKE, of Cincinnati,
both of whom have devoted much attention to our antiquities,
and whose observations upon the subject are distinguished for
their accuracy, are also entitled to honorable mention for facts
contributed, and assistance rendered. So also, for surveys of ancient
works, drawings and descriptions of ancient relics, and facts of
various kinds, is acknowledgment due to J. DILLE, Esq., of Newark,
Ohio; S. T. OWEINS and W. B. FAIRCHILD, Esqs., of Xenia, Ohio; Col.
B. L. C. WAILES, of Washington, Mississippi; J. H. BLAKE, Esq., of
Boston; THOMAS REYNOLDS, M.D., of Brockville, Canada West; ARIUS
NYE, Esq., and CHARLES SULLIVAN, Marietta, Ohio; HENRY HOWE, R.
of Cincinnati; J. E. WHARTON, Esq., of Wheeling, Virginia; DANIEL
MORTON, Esq., of New York; L. K. DILLE, M.D., of Cedarville, Ohio;
CHARLES O. TRACY, of Portsmouth, Ohio; Prof. W. W. MATHER, Jackson,
Ohio; Rev. W. B. STEVENS, Athens, Georgia; Hon. T. H. CLINGMAN, North
Carolina; ASHEL AYLESWORTH, Granville, Ohio; P. N. WHITE, Esq.,
Circleville, Ohio; C. J. ORTON, Lower Sandusky, Ohio; Lieut. JOHN
H. ALLEN, now of Easton, Md.; T. B. HUNT, Esq., of New Haven; WM.
F. CLEMSON, Esq., of Chillicothe, Ohio; and JOSEPH SULLIVANT, Esq.,
Columbus, Ohio.

And while rendering these acknowledgments, it is but proper to
express the obligations which the authors of these investigations
feel themselves under to gentlemen in the various Atlantic cities,
who, if they have not been able to add to the number of facts
here presented, have nevertheless by their thorough appreciation
of the subject, friendly encouragement, and disinterested aid,
extended in various ways, facilitated this new attempt towards the
elucidation of the antiquities of our own country. To the learned
and venerable President of the American Ethnological Society, Hon.
ALBERT GALLATIN, the closing years of whose long, active, and useful
life have been closely and successfully devoted to researches in
the wide field of American Ethnological Science, are our grateful
acknowledgments especially due. His assistance and enlightened
approbation have had a controlling influence in sustaining and
carrying on these investigations. To JOHN R. BARTLETT, Esq., of New
York, Foreign Corresponding Secretary of the Ethnological Society,
distinguished for his zeal and energy in organizing and promoting
historical and ethnological research, we cannot sufficiently express
our obligations. His assistance, in a variety of ways, has been of
value, especially in directing public attention to the importance
of a subject, the extent and bearings of which were but imperfectly

Hon. GEO. P. MARSH, of Burlington, Vermont, whose disinterested
exertions have mainly contributed to the appearance of this memoir
in its present form, has kindly examined the following chapters and
given them the benefit of his sound and critical judgment. To Prof.
EDWARD ROBINSON, D.D., and to Prof. W. W. TURNER, both of New York,
and both officers of the American Ethnological Society, are we also
indebted. The gentleman last named has supervised the memoir, and
his suggestions have been deferred to with a readiness implying a
confidence in his critical abilities, which is shared alike by the
authors and by the public.

To Professors B. SILLIMAN and B. SILLIMAN, jr., of New Haven; Prof.
JEFFRIES WYMAN, of Boston; Prof. LEWIS AGASSIZ, of Cambridge; S.
F. HAVENS, Esq., Librarian of the American Antiquarian Society,
Worcester; and to numerous other gentlemen in various parts of the
Union, and particularly to GEO. R. GLIDDON, Esq., whose lectures
and publications upon the subject of Egyptian Archæology have
given a new and powerful impulse to cognate researches in America,
and invested them with a popular interest indispensable to their
successful prosecution,—to all of these are the warmest thanks of the
investigators due.

It will not be improper here to mention, that the literary part of
the present work, the responsible task of arranging and embodying
for publication the original MSS. and other materials jointly got
together in the course of these investigations, has devolved mostly
upon the gentleman whose name stands first upon the title-page, who
has also prepared the plans, drawings, and other illustrations. The
other gentleman has been engaged for a number of years in researches
connected with our ancient monuments, and in collecting relics of
aboriginal art; and it is due to him to say, that the investigations
here recorded, so far as they involve inquiries in natural science,
have principally been made by him. He has also sustained the larger
proportion of the expenses attending these explorations, and devoted
considerable time to the restoration and arrangement of the relics
recovered from the mounds.

Before concluding these prefatory remarks,—already extended beyond
the original design,—we may be permitted to say that it has been
a constant aim in the preparation of this memoir, to present
facts in a clear and concise form, with such simple deductions
and generalizations alone, as may follow from their careful
consideration. With no hypothesis to combat or sustain, and with a
desire only to arrive at truth, whatever its bearings upon received
theories and current prejudices, everything like mere speculation
has been avoided. Analogies, apparently capable of reflecting light
upon many important questions connected with an enlarged view of
the subject, have seldom been more than indicated. Their full
consideration, as also that of the relations which the ancient
monuments of the Mississippi valley bear to those of other portions
of America and the world, has not been attempted here. To such an
undertaking, involving long and careful research, as also a more
comprehensive view of the monuments of the central parts of the
continent, this memoir is only preliminary. It yet remains to be seen
whether all the ancient monuments of the Mississippi valley were
constructed upon similar principles; whether they denote a common
origin, and whether they were probably contemporaneous or otherwise
in their erection. It remains to be settled whether the singular and
anomalous structures of Wisconsin and the North-west are part of the
same grand system of defensive, religious, and sepulchral monuments
found in the valley of the Ohio, and the more imposing, if not more
regular remains which abound in the Southern States. The work of
investigation has been just commenced; its future progress may, and
no doubt will, result in new and perhaps more important disclosures
than any hitherto made.

The importance of a complete and speedy examination of the whole
field, cannot be over-estimated. The operations of the elements,
the shifting channels of the streams, the levelling hand of public
improvement, and most efficient of all, the slow but constant
encroachments of agriculture, are fast destroying these monuments of
ancient labor, breaking in upon their symmetry and obliterating their
outlines. Thousands have already disappeared, or retain but slight
and doubtful traces of their former proportions. Such an examination
is, however, too great an undertaking for private enterprise to
attempt. It must be left to local explorers, to learned associations,
or to the Government. And if this memoir shall succeed in directing
that attention to the subject which it merits, and thereby in some
manner secure the thorough investigation of these monuments, that
result will prove an ample recompense for labors performed in a field
of absorbing interest, and one which holds out abundant attractions
to the Antiquary and Archæologist.

CHILLICOTHE, OHIO, «June», 1847.



The ancient monuments of the Western United States consist, for the
most part, of elevations and embankments of earth and stone, erected
with great labor and manifest design. In connection with these, more
or less intimate, are found various minor relics of art, consisting
of ornaments and implements of many kinds, some of them composed of
metal, but most of stone.

These remains are spread over a vast extent of country. They are
found on the sources of the Alleghany, in the western part of the
State of New-York, on the east; and extend thence westwardly along
the southern shore of Lake Erie, and through Michigan and Wisconsin,
to Iowa and the Nebraska territory, on the west.[1] We have no record
of their occurrence above the great lakes. Carver mentions some
on the shores of Lake Pepin, and some are said to occur near Lake
Travers, under the 46th parallel of latitude. Lewis and Clarke saw
them on the Missouri river, one thousand miles above its junction
with the Mississippi; and they have been observed on the Kanzas
and Platte, and on other remote western rivers. They are found all
over the intermediate country, and spread over the valley of the
Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. They line the shores of the Gulf
from Texas to Florida, and extend, in diminished numbers, into South
Carolina. They occur in great numbers in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois,
Wisconsin, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana,
Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Texas. They are found,
in less numbers, in the western portions of New-York, Pennsylvania,
Virginia, and North and South Carolina; as also in Michigan, Iowa,
and in the Mexican territory beyond the Rio Grande del Norte. In
short, [p002] they occupy the entire basin of the Mississippi and
its tributaries, as also the fertile plains along the Gulf.

It is a fact but recently made known, that there are an abundance
of small mounds, or tumuli, in the territory of Oregon. We are not
informed, however, whether there are any enclosures, or other works
of like character with those usually accompanying the mounds of the
Mississippi valley, nor whether the mounds of Oregon are generally
disseminated over that territory.[2] That they are of frequent
occurrence upon the river Gila, in California, and also upon the
tributaries of the Colorado of the West, is also a fact but recently
ascertained. Whether these mounds possess features identifying them
with those of the Mississippi valley, or indicating a common origin,
remains to be decided.

It is not to be understood that these works are dispersed equally
over the area above indicated. They are mainly confined to the
valleys of the rivers and large streams, and seldom occur very far
back from them. Occasional works are found in the hill or broken
country; but they are not frequent, and are always of small size.

Although possessing throughout certain general points of resemblance,
going to establish a kindred origin, these works, nevertheless,
resolve themselves into three grand geographical divisions, which
present, in many respects, striking contrasts, yet so gradually
merge into each other, that it is impossible to determine where one
series terminates and the other begins. In the region bordering the
upper lakes, to a certain extent in Michigan, Iowa, and Missouri, but
particularly in Wisconsin, we find a succession of remains, entirely
singular in their form, and presenting but slight analogy to any
others of which we have an account, in any portion of the globe. The
larger proportion of these are structures of earth, bearing the forms
of beasts, birds, reptiles, and even of men; they are frequently of
gigantic dimensions, constituting huge «basso-relievos» upon the face
of the country. They are very numerous, and in most cases occur in
long and apparently dependent ranges. In connection with them, are
found many conical mounds and occasional short lines of embankment,
in rare instances forming enclosures. These animal effigies are
mainly confined to Wisconsin, and extend across that territory from
Fond du Lac, in a south-western direction, ascending the Fox river,
and following the general course of Rock and Wisconsin rivers to the
Mississippi. They may be much more extensively disseminated; but it
is here only that they have been observed in considerable numbers. In
Michigan, as also in Iowa and Missouri, similar elevations, of more
or less regular outline, are said to occur. They are represented as
[p003] dispersed in ranges, like the buildings of a modern city,
and covering sometimes an area of many acres.

[Illustration: II. Map of a section of twelve miles of the Scioto
Valley with its ancient monuments.]

Further to the southward, in the region watered by the Ohio and its
tributaries, we find ancient works of greater magnitude and more
manifest design. Among them are a few animal-shaped structures; but
they seem to have been erected on different principles and for a
different purpose from those just noticed. Here we find numberless
mounds, most of them conical but many pyramidal in form, and often
of great dimensions. The pyramidal structures are always truncated,
sometimes terraced, and generally have graded ascents to their
summits. They bear a close resemblance to the Teocallis of Mexico;
and the known uses of the latter are suggestive of the probable
purposes to which they were applied. Accompanying these, and in some
instances sustaining an intimate relation to them, are numerous
enclosures of earth and stone, frequently of vast size, and often
of regular outline. These are by far the most imposing class of our
aboriginal remains, and impress us most sensibly with the numbers
and power of the people who built them. The purposes of many of
these are quite obvious; and investigation has served to settle,
pretty clearly, the character of most of the other works occurring in
connection with them.

Proceeding still further southwards, we find, in the States bordering
on the Gulf of Mexico, the mounds increasing in size and regularity
of form, if not in numbers. Conical mounds become comparatively rare,
and the Teocalli-shaped structures become larger and more numerous,
and assume certain dependencies in respect to each other, not before
observed. The enclosures, on the other hand, diminish in size and
numbers; and lose many of the characteristic features of those of
a higher latitude, though still sustaining towards them a strong
general resemblance. Here, for the first time, we find traces of
bricks in the mounds and in the walls of enclosures.

The peculiarities of these several divisions will be more
particularly pointed out in the progress of this work; when the
points of resemblance and difference will become more apparent.
The succeeding observations relate more especially to the remains
included in the central geographical section above indicated, where
the investigations recorded in this volume were principally carried
on, and which, in the extent, variety, and interesting nature of its
ancient monuments, affords by far the richest and most important
field for archæological research and inquiry.

The number of these ancient remains is well calculated to excite
surprise, and has been adduced in support of the hypothesis that
they are most, if not all of them, natural formations, “the
results of diluvial action,” modified perhaps in some instances,
but never erected by man. Of course no such suggestion was ever
made by individuals who had enjoyed the opportunity of seeing and
investigating them. Simple structures of earth could not possibly
bear more palpable evidences of an artificial origin, than do most of
the western monuments. The evidences in support of this assertion,
derived from the form, structure, position, and contents of these
remains, will sufficiently appear in the progress of this work.

PLATE II, «exhibiting a section of twelve miles of the Scioto valley,
with its ancient» [p004] «monuments», will serve to give some
general conception of the number of these remains. The enclosures are
here indicated by dark lines, the mounds by simple dots. Within the
section represented, it will be observed that there are not less than
«ten» groups of large works, accompanied by a great number of mounds,
of various sizes. Within the enclosure designated by the letter E are
embraced twenty-four mounds. The enclosures D, H, I, K, have each
about two and a half miles of embankment; and H and K enclose but
little less than one hundred acres each. It is proper to observe,
to prevent misconception, that there are few sections of country
of equal extent which embrace so large a number of ancient works.
The fertile valley of the Scioto river was a favorite resort of the
ancient people, and was one of the seats of their densest population.
The various works indicated in these maps, will be described at
length in the subsequent pages. An enlarged plan of the enclosure
designated by the letter A is given on Plate XXIII; B, on Plate
XVIII; C, Plate XVIII; D, Plate XVII; E and F, Plate XIX; G, Plate
XXII; H, Plate XXI; I, Plate XVI; K, Plate XX.

PLATE III, No. 1, «exhibits a section of six miles of the Valley
of Paint Creek», a tributary of the Scioto river. The village of
Bourneville is ten miles west of Chillicothe. Within this limit are
embraced three works of extraordinary size, besides several smaller
ones. The works, designated by the letters A and B, have each upwards
of two miles of heavy embankment, and contain not far from one
hundred acres. The stone work C has an area of one hundred and forty
acres, enclosed within a wall upwards of two and a fourth miles long.
Enlarged plans of the various works here indicated are given in the
following pages. A and B, Plate XXI; C, Plate IV; D and E, Plate XXX.

Plate III, No. 2, «presents a section of six miles of the Great Miami
valley», included principally within the limits of Butler county,
Ohio. Not less than seven enclosures, of considerable size, occur
within these bounds. The work indicated by the letter G contains
ninety-five acres. An enlarged plan of the work marked A, is given on
Plate VI; of B, on Plate XI; C and F, on Plate XXX; D, Plate XXXI;
and G, on Plate XIII.

Not far from one hundred enclosures of various sizes, and five
hundred mounds, are found in Ross county, Ohio. The number of tumuli
in the State may be safely estimated at ten thousand, and the number
of enclosures at one thousand or fifteen hundred. Many of them are
small, but cannot be omitted in an enumeration. They are scarcely
less numerous on the Kenhawas in Virginia, than on the Scioto and
Miamis; and are abundant on the White river and Wabash, as also
upon the Kentucky, Cumberland, Tennessee, and the numerous other
tributaries of the Ohio and Mississippi.

[Illustration: III. Map exhibiting a section of six miles of the
Great Miami Valley, with its ancient monuments.

No. 2. Map exhibiting a section of six miles of the Paint Creek
Valley, with its ancient monuments.]

Nor is their magnitude less a matter of remark than their great
number. Lines of embankment, varying in height from five to thirty
feet, and enclosing areas of from one to fifty acres, are common;
while enclosures of one or two hundred acres area are far from
infrequent. Occasional works are found enclosing as many as [p005]
four hundred acres.[3] The magnitude of the area enclosed is not,
however, always a correct index of the amount of labor expended in
the erection of these works. A fortified hill in Highland county,
Ohio, has one mile and five-eighths of heavy embankment; yet it
encloses an area of only about forty acres. A similar work on the
Little Miami river, in Warren county, Ohio, has upwards of four miles
of embankment, yet encloses little more than one hundred acres. The
group of works at the mouth of the Scioto river has an aggregate of
at least twenty miles of embankment; yet the entire amount of land
embraced within the walls does not probably much exceed two hundred

The mounds are of all dimensions, from those of but a few feet
in height and a few yards in diameter, to those which, like the
celebrated structure at the mouth of Grave Creek in Virginia,
rise to the height of seventy feet, and measure one thousand feet
in circumference at the base. The great mound in the vicinity
of Miamisburgh, Montgomery county, Ohio, is sixty-eight feet
in perpendicular height, and eight hundred and fifty-two in
circumference at the base, containing 311,353 cubic feet.

[Illustration: Fig. 1. Great Mound at Miamisburgh, Ohio.

From a sketch by Henry Howe, Esq.]

The truncated pyramid at Cahokia, Illinois, has an altitude of
ninety feet, and is upwards of two thousand feet in circumference
at the base. It has a level summit of several acres area. The great
mound at Selserstown, Mississippi, is computed to cover six acres
of ground. Mounds of these extraordinary dimensions are most common
at the south, though there are some of great size at the north. The
usual dimensions are, however, considerably less than in the examples
here given. The greater number range from six to thirty feet in
perpendicular height, by forty to one hundred feet diameter at the
base.[4] [p006]

All the above-mentioned constructions are composed of earth or
stone; though a combination of these materials in the same work is
by no means rare. When there are no ditches interior or exterior to
the embankments, «pits» or “dug holes,” from which the earth for
their formation was taken, are generally visible near by. These are
sometimes very broad and deep, and occasionally quite symmetrical
in shape.[5] In the vicinity of large mounds such excavations are
common. The earth and stone composing these works are sometimes
foreign to the locality which they occupy, and must have been brought
from considerable distances.

A large, perhaps the larger, portion of these enclosures are
regular in outline, the square and the circle predominating. Some
are parallelograms, some ellipses, others polygons, regular or
irregular. The regular works are almost invariably erected on level
river-terraces, great care having evidently been taken to select
those least broken. The irregular works are those which partake most
of the character of defences, and are usually made to conform to the
nature of the ground upon which they are situated,—running along
the brows of hills, or cutting off the approaches to strong natural
positions. The square and the circle often occur in combination,
frequently communicating with each other or with irregular works
directly, or by avenues consisting of parallel lines of embankment.
Detached parallels are numerous. The mounds are usually simple cones
in form; but they are sometimes truncated, and occasionally terraced,
with graded or winding ascents to their summits. Some are elliptical,
others pear-shaped, and others squares or parallelograms, with
flanking terraces. Besides these, there are others already alluded
to, most common in the extreme north-west, which assume the forms of
animals and reptiles. Another variety of remains are the causeways or
“roads,” and the graded descents to rivers and streams, or from one
terrace to another. These several classes of works will be described
at length, under appropriate heads.

As already remarked, these remains occur mainly in the valleys
of the Western rivers and streams. The alluvial terraces, or
“river-bottoms,” as they are popularly termed, were the favorite
sites of the builders. The principal monuments are found where these
“bottoms” are most extended, and where the soil is most fertile and
easy of cultivation. At the junction of streams, where the valleys
are usually broadest and most favorable for their erection, some
of the largest and most singular remains are found. The works at
Marietta; at the junction of the Muskingum with the Ohio; at the
mouth of Grave Creek; at Portsmouth, the mouth of the Scioto; and
at the mouth of the Great Miami, are instances in point. Occasional
works are found on the hill tops, overlooking the valleys, or at
a little distance from them; but these are manifestly, in most
instances, works of defence or last resort, or in some way connected
with warlike purposes. And it is worthy of remark, that the sites
selected for settlements, towns, and cities, by the invading
Europeans, are often those which were the especial favorites of the
mound-builders, and the seats of their heaviest population. Marietta,
Newark, Portsmouth, Chillicothe, [p007] Circleville, and Cincinnati,
in Ohio; Frankfort in Kentucky; and St. Louis in Missouri, may be
mentioned in confirmation of this remark. The centres of population
are now, where they were at the period when the mysterious race of
the mounds flourished.[6]

The aboriginal monuments of the Mississippi valley, the general
character of which has been thus briefly and imperfectly indicated,
fall within two general divisions, namely, CONSTRUCTIONS OF EARTH OR
STONE, comprising «Enclosures, Mounds, etc.»; and MINOR VESTIGES OF
ART, including the «Implements, Ornaments, Sculptures, etc.» of the
ancient people.

The Earth and Stone Works resolve themselves into two classes, viz:
ENCLOSURES, bounded by embankments, circumvallations, or walls; and
simple tumuli, or MOUNDS.[7] They constitute, together, a single
system of works; but, for reasons which will satisfactorily appear,
it is preferred to classify them as above. These grand classes
resolve themselves into other subordinate divisions: ENCLOSURES FOR


[1] Some ancient works, probably belonging to the same system with
those of the Mississippi valley, and erected by the same people,
occur upon the Susquehanna river, as far down as the Valley of
Wyoming, in Pennsylvania. The mound-builders seem to have skirted the
southern border of Lake Erie, and spread themselves, in diminished
numbers, over the western part of the State of New-York, along the
shores of Lake Ontario to the St. Lawrence river. They penetrated
into the interior, eastward, as far as the county of Onondaga, where
some slight vestiges of their works still exist. These seem to have
been their limits at the north-east.

[2] The only reference we have to the mounds of Oregon is contained
in a paragraph in the Narrative of the United States Exploring
Expedition, vol. iv. p. 313:

“We soon reached the Bute Prairies, which are extensive, and covered
with tumuli, or small mounds, at regular distances asunder. As far as
I can learn, there is no tradition among the natives concerning them.
They are conical mounds, thirty feet in diameter, about six or seven
feet above the level, and «many thousands in number». Being anxious
to ascertain if they contained any relics, I subsequently visited
these prairies, and opened three of the mounds, but found nothing in
them but a pavement of round stones.”

[3] Lewis and Clarke describe one on the Missouri river which they
estimated to contain not far from six hundred acres.—«Travels», p. 47.

[4] “We have seen mounds which would require the labor of a thousand
men employed upon our canals, with all their mechanical aids, and the
improved implements of their labor, for months. We have more than
once hesitated, in view of one of these prodigious mounds, whether
it were not really a natural hill. But they are uniformly so placed,
in reference to the adjacent country, and their conformation is so
unique and similar, that no eye hesitates long in referring them to
the class of artificial erections.”—«Flint’s Geography», p. 131.

[5] These are the “«wells»” of Mr. Atwater and other writers on
American antiquities. It is barely possible that a few were really
wells, or «secondarily» designed for reservoirs.

[6] “The most dense ancient population existed in precisely the
places where the most crowded future population will exist in ages to
come. The appearance of a series of mounds generally indicates the
contiguity of rich and level lands, easy communications, fish, game,
and the most favorable adjacent positions.”—«Flint.»

“The most numerous, as well as the most considerable of these remains
are found precisely in any part of the country where the traces of a
numerous population might be looked for.”—«Brackenridge.»

[7] The term «Mound» is used in this work in a technical sense, as
synonymous with «Tumulus» or «Barrow», and in contradistinction to
embankment, wall, &c.



The Enclosures, or, as they are familiarly called throughout the
West, “Forts,” constitute a very important and interesting class
of remains. Their dimensions, and the popular opinion as to their
purposes, attract to them more particularly the attention of
observers. As a consequence, most that has been written upon our
antiquities relates to them. A considerable number have been surveyed
and described by different individuals, at different times; but
no systematic examination of a sufficient number to justify any
general conclusion as to their origin and purposes has heretofore
been attempted. We have therefore had presented as many different
hypotheses as there have been individual explorers; one maintaining
that all the enclosures were intended for defence, while another
persists that none could possibly have been designed for any such
purpose. Investigation has shown, however, that while certain works
possess features demonstrating incontestibly a military origin,
others were connected with the superstitions of the builders, or
designed for other purposes not readily apparent in our present state
of knowledge concerning them.

It has already been remarked that the square and the circle, separate
or in combination, were favorite figures with the mound-builders;
and a large proportion of their works in the Scioto valley, and in
Ohio generally, are of these forms. Most of the circular works are
small, varying from two hundred and fifty to three hundred feet in
diameter, while others are a mile or more in circuit. Some stand
isolated, but most in connection with one or more mounds, of greater
or less dimensions, or in connection with other more complicated
works. Wherever the circles occur, if there be a fosse, or ditch,
it is almost invariably «interior» to the parapet. Instances are
frequent where no ditch is discernible, and where it is evident that
the earth composing the embankment was brought from a distance,
or taken up evenly from the surface. In the square and in the
irregular works, if there be a fosse at all, it is «exterior» to the
embankment; except in the case of fortified hills, where the earth,
for the best of reasons, is usually thrown from the interior. These
facts are not without their importance in determining the character
and purpose of these remains. Another fact, bearing directly upon
the degree of knowledge possessed by the builders, is, that many, if
not most, of the circular works are «perfect circles», and that many
of the rectangular works are «accurate squares». This fact has been
demonstrated, in numerous instances, by careful admeasurements; and
has been remarked in cases where the works embrace an area of many
acres, and where the embankments, or circumvallations, are a mile and
upwards in extent. [p009]

To facilitate description, and to bring something like system out of
the disordered materials before us, the enclosures are, to as great a
degree as practicable, divided into classes; that is to say, such as
are esteemed to be works of defence are placed together, while those
which are regarded as sacred, or of a doubtful character, come under
another division.


Those works which are incontestibly defensive usually occupy strong
natural positions; and to understand fully their character, their
capability for defence, and the nature of their entrenchments, it
is necessary to notice briefly the predominant features of the
country in which they occur. The valley of the Mississippi river,
from the Alleghanies to the ranges of the Rocky Mountains, is a
vast sedimentary basin, and owes its general aspect to the powerful
agency of water. Its rivers have worn their valleys deep into a
vast original plain; leaving, in their gradual subsidence, broad
terraces, which mark the eras of their history. The edges of the
table-lands, bordering on the valleys, are cut by a thousand ravines,
presenting bluff headlands and high hills with level summits,
sometimes connected by narrow isthmuses with the original table, but
occasionally entirely detached. The sides of these elevations are
generally steep, and difficult of access; in some cases precipitous
and absolutely inaccessible. The natural strength of such positions,
and their susceptibility of defence, would certainly suggest them
as the citadels of a people having hostile neighbors, or pressed by
invaders. Accordingly we are not surprised at finding these heights
occupied by strong and complicated works, the design of which is no
less indicated by their position than by their construction. But in
such cases, it is always to be observed, that they have been chosen
with great care, and that they possess peculiar strength, and have
a special adaptation for the purposes to which they were applied.
They occupy the highest points of land, and are never commanded
from neighboring positions. While rugged and steep on most sides,
they have one or more points of comparatively easy approach, in the
protection of which the utmost skill of the builders seems to have
been exhausted. They are guarded by double, overlapping walls, or
a series of them, having sometimes an accompanying mound, designed
perhaps for a look-out, and corresponding to the barbican in the
system of defence of the Britons of the middle era. The usual defence
is a simple embankment, thrown up along and a little below the brow
of the hill, varying in height and solidity, as the declivity is more
or less steep and difficult of access.

Other defensive works occupy the peninsulas created by the rivers
and large [p010] streams, or cut off the headlands formed by their
junction with each other. In such cases a fosse and wall are thrown
across the isthmus, or diagonally from the bank of one stream to the
bank of the other. In some, the wall is double, and extends along the
bank of the stream some distance inwardly, as if designed to prevent
an enemy from turning the flanks of the defence.

To understand clearly the nature of the works last mentioned, it
should be remembered that the banks of the western rivers are
always steep, and where these works are located, invariably high.
The banks of the various terraces are also steep, and vary from
ten to thirty and more feet in height. The rivers are constantly
shifting their channels; and they frequently cut their way through
all the intermediate up to the earliest-formed, or highest terrace,
presenting bold banks, inaccessibly steep, and from sixty to one
hundred feet high. At such points, from which the river has, in some
instances, receded to the distance of half a mile or more, works of
this description are oftenest found.

And it is a fact of much importance, and worthy of special note, that
within the scope of a pretty extended observation, no work of any
kind has been found occupying the first, or latest-formed terrace.
This terrace alone, except at periods of extraordinary freshets, is
subject to overflow.[8] The formation of each terrace constitutes
a sort of semi-geological era in the history of the valley; and
the fact that none of the ancient works occur upon the lowest or
latest-formed of these, while they are found indiscriminately upon
all the others, bears directly upon the question of their antiquity.

In addition to the several descriptions of defensive works above
enumerated, there are others presenting peculiar features, which
will be sufficiently noticed in the plans and explanations that
follow. These plans are all drawn from actual and minute, and in
most instances personal survey, and are presented, unless otherwise
specially noted, on a uniform scale of five hundred feet to the inch.
When there are interesting features too minute to be satisfactorily
indicated on so small a scale, enlarged plans have been adopted.
This is the case with the very first plan presented. Sections and
supplementary plans are given, whenever it is supposed they may
illustrate the description, or assist the comprehension of the
reader. To shorten the text, the admeasurements are often placed
upon the plans, and the “Field Books” of survey wholly omitted.
The greatest care has, in all cases, been taken to secure perfect
fidelity in all essential particulars. In the sectional maps, in
order to show something of the character as well as the positions
of the works, it has been found necessary to exaggerate them beyond
their proportionate size. Some of the minor features of a few works
are also slightly exaggerated, but in no case where it would be apt
to lead to misapprehension or wrong conceptions of their character.

[Illustration: IV. Ancient Stone Work near the village of
Bourneville, Ross Co. Ohio, 12 miles west of Chillicothe.]


This work occupies the summit of a lofty, detached hill, twelve
miles westward from the city of Chillicothe, near the village
of Bourneville. The hill is not far from four hundred feet in
perpendicular height; and is remarkable, even among the steep hills
of the West, for the general abruptness of its sides, which at some
points are absolutely inaccessible. It is the advance point of a
range of hills, situated between the narrow valleys of two small
creeks; and projects midway into the broad valley of Paint creek,
so as to constitute its most prominent natural feature. It is a
conspicuous object from every point of view. Its summit is a wide
and fertile plain, with occasional considerable depressions, some of
which contain water during the entire year.

The defences consist of a wall of stone which is carried around the
hill, a little below the brow; but at some places it rises, so as to
cut off the narrow spurs, and extends across the neck that connects
the hill with the range beyond. It should not be understood by the
term «wall», that, at this time, anything like a wall of stones
regularly laid up exists; on the contrary, where the line is best
preserved, there is little evidence that the stones were laid one
upon the other so as to present vertical faces, much less that they
were cemented in place. At a few points, however, more particularly
at the isthmus D, there are some indications of arrangement in the
stones, tending to the belief that the wall here may have been
regularly faced on the exterior. The appearance of the line, for the
most part, is just what might be expected from the «falling outwards»
of a wall of stones placed, as this was, upon the declivity of a
hill. Upon the western, or steepest face of the hill, the range of
stones covers a space varying from thirty to fifty feet in width,
closely resembling the “«protection walls»” carried along the
embankments of rail-roads and canals, where exposed to the action of
rivers or large streams. But for the amount of stones, it might be
taken for a natural feature,—the «debris» of the out-cropping sand
strata. Such, certainly, is the first impression which it produces
upon the visitor; an impression, however, which is speedily corrected
upon reaching the points where the supposed line of «debris», rising
upon the spurs, forms curved gateways, and then resumes its course as

Upon the eastern face of the hill, where the declivity is least
abrupt, the wall is heavier and more distinct than upon the west,
resembling a long stone-heap of fifteen or twenty feet base, and
from three to four feet in height. Where it crosses the isthmus
it is heaviest; and although stones enough have been removed from
it, [p012] at that point, to build a stout division wall between
the lands of two proprietors, their removal is not discoverable.
This isthmus is seven hundred feet wide, and the wall is carried
in a right line across it, at its narrowest point. Here are three
gateways opening upon the continuous terrace beyond. These are formed
by the curving inward of the ends of the wall for forty or fifty
feet, leaving narrow pass-ways between, not exceeding eight feet in
width. At the other points, A and C of the plan, where there are
jutting ridges, are similar gateways. It is at these points that
the hill is most easy of access. At A is a modern roadway; at C is
a pathway leading down into the valley of “Black Run.” At B appears
to have been a similar gateway, which for some reason was closed
up; a like feature may be observed in the line D. At the gateways,
the amount of stones is more than quadruple the quantity at other
points, constituting broad, mound-shaped heaps. They also exhibit the
marks of intense heat, which has in some instances vitrified their
surfaces, and fused them together. Light, porous scoriæ are abundant
in the centres of some of these piles. Indeed, strong traces of fire
are visible at many places on the line of the wall, particularly at
F, the point commanding the broadest extent of country. Here are two
or three small mounds of stone, which seem burned throughout. Nothing
is more certain than that powerful fires have been maintained, for
considerable periods, at numerous prominent points on the hill;
for what purposes, unless as alarm signals, it is impossible to

It will be observed that the wall is interrupted for some distance
at E, where the hill is precipitous and inaccessible. There are, as
has already been remarked, several depressions upon the hill which
contain constant supplies of water. One of them covers about two
acres, and furnishes a supply estimated by the proprietor as adequate
to the wants of a thousand head of cattle. Water is obtained in
abundance at the depth of twenty feet.

The area enclosed within this singular work is something over one
hundred and forty acres, and the line of the wall measures upwards of
«two and a quarter miles» in length. Most of the wall, and a large
portion of the area, are still covered with a heavy primitive forest.
Trees of the largest size grow on the line, twisting their roots
among the stones, some of which are firmly imbedded in their trunks.

That this work was designed for defence, will hardly admit of doubt;
the fact is sufficiently established, not less by the natural
strength of the position, than by the character of the defences. Of
the original construction of the wall, now so completely in ruins,
we can of course form no very clear conception. It is possible that
it was once regularly laid up; but it seems that, if such were ever
the case, some satisfactory evidence of the fact would still be
discoverable. We must consider, however, that it is situated upon a
yielding and disintegrating declivity; and that successive forests,
in their growth and prostration, aided by the action of the elements,
in the long period which must certainly have elapsed since its [p013]
construction, would have been adequate to the total demolition of
structures more solid and enduring than we are justified in supposing
any of the stone works of the ancient people to have been. The stones
are of all sizes, and sufficiently abundant to have originally formed
walls eight feet high, by perhaps an equal base. At some points,
substantial fence-lines have been built from them, without sensibly
diminishing their numbers. It can readily be perceived that, upon
a steep declivity, such as this hill presents, so large an amount
of stones, even though simply heaped together, must have proved
an almost insurmountable impediment in the way of an assailant,
especially if they were crowned by palisades.

In the magnitude of the area enclosed, this work exceeds any
hill-work now known in the country; although the wall is considerably
less in length than that of “Fort Ancient,” on the Little Miami
river. It evinces great labor, and bears the impress of a numerous
people. The valley in which it is situated was a favorite one with
the race of the mounds; and the hill overlooks a number of extensive
groups of ancient works, the bearings of which are indicated by
arrows on the plan.

Paint creek washes the base of the hill upon the left, and has for
some distance worn away the argillaceous slate rock, so as to leave
a mural front of from fifty to seventy-five feet in height. It has
also uncovered a range of «septaria», occurring near the base of the
slate stratum; a number of which, of large size, are to be seen in
the bed of the creek, at «a». These, most unaccountably, have been
mistaken for works of art,—“stone covers” for deep wells sunk in
the rock. This notion has been gravely advanced in print; and the
humble septaria, promoted to a high standing amongst the antiquities
of America, now figure prominently in every work of speculations on
the subject. The reason for sinking wells in the bed of a creek, was
probably never very obvious to any mind. The supposed “wells” are
simple casts of huge septaria, which have been dislodged from their
beds; the cyclopean “covers” are septaria which have resisted the
disintegrating action of the water, and still retain their places.
Parallel ranges of these singular natural productions run through the
slate strata of this region: they are of an oblate-spheroidal figure,
some of them measuring from nine to twelve feet in circumference.
They frequently have apertures or hollows in their middle, with
radiating fissures, filled with crystalline spar or sulphate of
baryta. These fissures sometimes extend beyond them, in the slate
rock, constituting the “good joints” mentioned by some writers.
The slate layers are not interrupted by these productions, but are
bent or wrapped around them. The following cut illustrates their
character. A is a vertical section: «a» exhibiting the water, «b» the
rock. At «c» the septarium has disintegrated, or has been removed,
and its cavity or bed is filled with pebbles. At «d» the nodule still
remains. B exhibits the appearance presented by «d» from above.

[Illustration: Fig. 2.]

A stone work, somewhat similar in character to that here described,
exists near the town of Somerset, Perry county, Ohio. It is described
by Mr. Atwater in the Archæologia Americana, vol. i. p. 131. [p014]

Still another, of small size and irregular outline, is situated on
Beaver creek, a branch of the Great Kenhawa, in Fayette county,
Virginia, of which an account was published by Mr. I. Craig of
Pittsburgh, in the “American Pioneer,” vol. i. p. 199.


This work occurs in the southern part of Highland county, Ohio; and
is distant about thirty miles from Chillicothe, and twelve from
Hillsborough. It is universally known as “Fort Hill,” though no
better entitled to the name than many others of similar character.
The defences occupy the summit of a hill, which is elevated five
hundred feet above the bed of Brush creek at its base, and eight
hundred feet above the Ohio river at Cincinnati. Unlike the hills
around it, this one stands detached and isolated, and forms a
conspicuous object from every approach. Its sides are steep and
precipitous; and, except at one or two points, if not absolutely
inaccessible, extremely difficult of ascent. The points most easy of
access are at the southern and northern angles, and may be reached
on horseback. The top of the hill is level, and has an area of
not far from fifty acres, which is covered with a heavy primitive
forest of gigantic trees. One of these, a chestnut, standing on the
embankment near the point indicated by the letter «e», measures
«twenty-one feet» in circumference; another, an oak, which also stood
on the wall, at the point «f», though now fallen and much decayed,
still measures «twenty-three feet» in circumference. All around are
scattered the trunks of immense trees, in every stage of decay; the
entire forest presenting an appearance of the highest antiquity.

[Illustration: V. Fort Hill, Highland Co. Ohio.]

Thus much for its natural features. Running along the edge of the
hill is an embankment of mingled earth and stone, interrupted at
intervals by gateways. Interior to this is a ditch, from which the
material composing the wall was taken. The length of the wall is
eight thousand two hundred and twenty-four feet, or something over a
mile and a half. In height, measuring from the bottom of the ditch,
it varies from six to ten feet, though at some places it rises to
the height of fifteen feet. Its average base is thirty-five or forty
feet. It is thrown up somewhat below the brow of the hill, the level
of the terrace being generally about even with the top of the wall;
but in some places it rises considerably above, as shown in the
sections. The outer slope of the wall is more abrupt than that of the
hill; the earth and stones from the ditch, sliding down fifty or a
hundred feet, have formed a [p015] declivity for that distance, so
steep as to be difficult of ascent, even with the aid which the trees
and bushes afford. The ditch has an average width of not far from
fifty feet; and, in many places, is dug through the sandstone layer
upon which the soil of the terrace rests.[12] At the point A, the
rock is quarried out, leaving a mural front about twenty feet high.
The inner declivity of the ditch appears to have been terraced. It
descends abruptly from the level for a few feet, then declines gently
for some distance, and again dips suddenly, as it approaches the
wall. The vertical section «a b» exhibits this feature.

There are «thirty-three» gateways or openings in the wall, most of
them very narrow, not exceeding fifteen or twenty feet in width at
the top: only eleven of these have corresponding causeways across
the ditch. They occur at irregular intervals; and some of them
appear to have been rather designed to let off the water which
might otherwise accumulate in the ditch, than to serve as places of
egress or ingress. Indeed, most of them cannot be supposed to have
been used for the last named purposes, inasmuch as they occur upon
the very steepest points of the hill, and where approach is almost
impossible. At the northern and southern spurs or angles of the hill,
the gateways are widest, and the parapet curves slightly outwards.
The ditch is interrupted at these points.

There are three depressions or ponds within the enclosure; the
largest of these, «g», has a well-defined artificial embankment on
its lower side, which has recently been cut through, and the water
principally drawn off. When full, the water must have covered very
nearly an acre. Bog-clumps are growing around its edges, and it is
free from trees. It does not seem to have any perennial sources of
supply. There are several other small circular depressions, a number
of which occur together at the bluff A; there are also traces of
other excavations, not clearly defined, at various points on the hill.

An inspection of the plan of the work, shows that it is naturally
divided into three parts; that at A being, in many respects, the
most remarkable. It is connected with the main body of the work by
a narrow ridge but one hundred feet wide, and terminates at a bold,
bluff ledge, the top of which is thirty feet above the bottom of the
trench, and twenty feet above the wall. This bluff is two hundred
feet wide. It is altogether the most prominent point of the hill,
and commands a wide extent of country. Here are strong traces of
the action of fire on the rocks and stones; though whether remote
or recent, it is not easy to determine. The connection between the
two principal divisions of the work is also narrow, being barely two
hundred and fifty feet in width.

Such are the more striking features of this interesting work.
Considered in a military point of view, as a work of defence, it is
well chosen, well guarded, and, with an adequate force, impregnable
to any mode of attack practised by a rude, or semi-civilized people.
As a natural stronghold, it has few equals; and the [p016] degree
of skill displayed and the amount of labor expended in constructing
its artificial defences, challenge our admiration, and excite our
surprise. With all the facilities and numerous mechanical appliances
of the present day, the construction of a work of this magnitude
would be no insignificant undertaking. And when we reflect how
comparatively rude, at the best, must have been the means at the
command of the people who raised this monument, we are prepared to
estimate the value which they placed upon the objects sought in its
erection, and also to form some conclusion respecting the number and
character of the people themselves.

It is quite unnecessary to recapitulate the features which give to
this the character of a military work; for they are too obvious to
escape attention. The angles of the hill form natural bastions,
enfilading the wall. The position of the wall, the structure of the
ditch, the peculiarities of the gateways where ascent is practicable,
the greater height of the wall where the declivity of the hill is
least abrupt, the reservoirs of water, the look-out or citadel, all
go to sustain the conclusion.

The evidence of antiquity afforded by the aspect of the forest, is
worthy of more than a passing notice. Actual examination showed the
existence of not far from «two hundred» annual rings or layers to the
foot, in the large chestnut-tree already mentioned, now standing upon
the entrenchments. This would give nearly «six hundred years» as the
age of the tree. If to this we add the probable period intervening
from the time of the building of the work to its abandonment, and
the subsequent period up to its invasion by the forest, we are led
irresistibly to the conclusion, that it has an antiquity of at least
«one thousand years».[13] But when we notice, all around us, the
crumbling trunks of trees half hidden in the accumulating soil, we
are induced to fix upon an antiquity still more remote.

It is worthy of note, that this work is in a broken country, with no
other remains, except perhaps a few small, scattered mounds, in its
vicinity. The nearest monuments of magnitude are in the Paint creek
valley, sixteen miles distant, from which it is separated by elevated
ridges. Lower down, on Brush creek, towards its junction with the
Ohio, are some works; but none of importance occur within twelve
miles in that direction.

[Illustration: VI. Fortified Hill, Butler Co. Ohio, 3 Mile S. W. of
the town of Hamilton.]


This fine work is situated in Butler county, Ohio, on the west side
of the Great Miami river, three miles below the town of Hamilton.
The plan is from a [p017] survey by JAMES MCBRIDE, Esq., and the
description is made up from his notes. The hill, the summit of which
it occupies, is about a half mile distant from the present bed of
the river, and is not far from two hundred and fifty feet high,
being considerably more elevated than any other in the vicinity. It
is surrounded at all points, except a narrow space at the north, by
deep ravines, presenting steep and almost inaccessible declivities.
The descent towards the north is gradual; and from that direction,
the hill is easy of access. It is covered with a primitive forest of
oak, hickory, and locust, of the same character with the surrounding

Skirting the brow of the hill, and generally conforming to its
outline, is a wall of mingled earth and stone, having an average
height of five feet by thirty-five feet base. It has no accompanying
ditch; the earth composing it, which is a stiff clay, having been for
the most part taken up from the surface, without leaving any marked
excavation. There are a number of “dug holes,” however, at various
points, from which it is evident a portion of the material was
obtained. The wall is interrupted by four gateways or passages, each
twenty feet wide; one opening to the north, on the approach above
mentioned, and the others occurring where the spurs of the hill are
cut off by the parapet, and where the declivity is least abrupt. They
are all, with one exception, protected by inner lines of embankment,
of a most singular and intricate description. These are accurately
delineated in the plan, which will best explain their character. It
will be observed that the northern gateway, in addition to its inner
maze of walls, has an exterior work of a crescent shape, the ends of
which approach to within a few feet of the brow of the hill.

The excavations are uniformly near the gateways, or within the lines
covering them. None of them are more than sixty feet over, nor
have they any considerable depth. Nevertheless, they all, with the
exception of the one nearest to gateway S, contain water for the
greater portion, if not the whole of the year. A pole may be thrust
eight or ten feet into the soft mud, at the bottom of those at E.

At S and W, terminating the parapet, are two mounds, each eight feet
high, composed of stones thrown loosely together. Thirty rods distant
from gateway N, and exterior to the work, is a mound ten feet high,
on which trees of the largest size are growing. It was partially
excavated a number of years ago, and a quantity of stones taken out,
all of which seemed to have undergone the action of fire.

The ground in the interior of this work gradually rises, as indicated
in the section, to the height of twenty-six feet above the base of
the wall, and overlooks the entire adjacent country.

In the vicinity of this work, are a number of others occupying the
valley; no less than six of large size occur within a distance of six
miles down the river. [See Plate III. No. 2. This work is marked A on
the map.]

The character of this structure is too obvious to admit of doubt.
The position which it occupies is naturally strong, and no mean
degree of skill is employed in its artificial defences. Every avenue
is strongly guarded. The principal approach, the only point easy
of access, or capable of successful assault, is rendered doubly
secure. A mound, used perhaps as an alarm post, is placed at about
one-fourth of the distance down the ascent; a crescent wall crosses
the isthmus, leaving but [p018] narrow passages between its ends
and the steeps on either hand. Next comes the principal wall of the
enclosure. In event of an attack, even though both these defences
were carried, there still remains a series of walls so complicated
as inevitably to distract and bewilder the assailants, thus giving
a marked advantage to the defenders. This advantage may have been
much greater than we, in our ignorance of the military system of this
ancient people, can understand. But, from the manifest judgment with
which their defensive positions were chosen, as well as from the
character of their entrenchments, so far as we comprehend them, it is
safe to conclude that all parts of this work were the best calculated
to secure the objects proposed by the builders, under the modes of
attack and defence then practised.

The coincidences between the guarded entrances of this and similar
works throughout the West, and those of the Mexican defences, is
singularly striking. The wall on the eastern side of the Tlascalan
territories, mentioned by Cortez and Bernal Diaz, was six miles long,
having a single entrance thirty feet wide, which was formed in the
manner represented in the supplementary plan A. The ends of the wall
overlapped each other, in the form of semicircles, having a common


[Illustration: VII. Fort Ancient, East Bank of the Little Miami
River, 33 miles above Cincinnati.]

One of the most extensive, if not the most extensive, work of this
class, in the entire West, occurs on the banks of the Little Miami
river, about thirty-five miles north-east from Cincinnati, in Warren
county, Ohio. It has not far from four miles of embankment, for the
most part very heavy, rising, at the more accessible points, to the
height of eighteen and twenty feet. The accompanying map is from a
faithful survey, made by Prof. LOCKE, of Cincinnati, and published by
him amongst the papers of the American Association of Geologists and
Naturalists, in [p019] 1843. One or two slight additions have been
made to his map, to indicate features which may be of some importance
in a consideration of the work and its character. The description of
Prof. Locke, accompanying the map, though brief, and written with
a view to certain geological questions, may not be omitted in this

“This work occupies a terrace on the left bank of the river, and two
hundred and thirty feet above its waters. The place is naturally
a strong one, being a peninsula, defended by two ravines, which,
originating on the east side near to each other, diverging and
sweeping around, enter the Miami, the one above, the other below
the work. The Miami itself, with its precipitous bank of two
hundred feet, defends the western side. The ravines are occupied by
small streams. Quite around this peninsula, on the very verge of
the ravines, has been raised an embankment of unusual height and
perfection. Meandering around the spurs, and re-entering to pass
the heads of the gullies, it is so winding in its course that it
required one hundred and ninety-six stations to complete its survey.
The whole circuit of the work is between four and five miles. The
number of cubic yards of excavation may be approximately estimated at
six hundred and twenty-eight thousand eight hundred. The embankment
stands in many places twenty feet in perpendicular height; and
although composed of a tough, diluvial clay, without stone, except in
a few places, its outward slope is from thirty-five to forty-three
degrees. This work presents no continuous ditch; but the earth for
its construction has been dug from convenient pits, which are still
quite deep, or filled with mud and water. Although I brought over a
party of a dozen active young engineers, and we had encamped upon the
ground to expedite our labors, we were still two days in completing
our survey, which, with good instruments, was conducted with all
possible accuracy. The work approaches nowhere within many feet of
the river; but its embankment is, in several places, carried down
into ravines from fifty to one hundred feet deep, and at an angle
of thirty degrees, crossing a streamlet at the bottom, which, by
showers, must often swell to a powerful torrent. But in all instances
the embankment may be traced to within three to eight feet of the
stream. Hence it appears, that although these little streams have cut
their channels through fifty to one hundred feet of thin, horizontal
layers of blue limestone, interstratified with indurated clay marl,
not more than three feet of that excavation has been done since
the construction of the earthworks. If the first portion of the
denudation was not more rapid than the last, a period of at least
thirty to fifty thousand years would be required for the present
point of its progress. But the quantity of material removed from
such a ravine is as the square of its depth, which would render the
last part of its denudation much slower, in vertical descent, than
the first part. That our streams have not yet reached their ultimate
level, a point beyond which they cease to act upon their beds, is
evident from the vast quantity of solid material transported annually
by our rivers, to be added to the great delta of the Mississippi.
Finally, I am astonished to see a work, simply of earth, after
braving the storms of thousands of years, still so entire and well
marked. Several circumstances have contributed to this. The clay of
which it is built is not easily penetrated by water. The bank has
been, and is still, mostly covered by a forest [p020] of beech trees,
which have woven a strong web of their roots over its steep sides;
and a fine bed of moss («Polytrichum») serves still further to afford

Upon the steep slope of the hill, at the point where it approaches
nearest to the river, are distinctly traceable three parallel
terraces, which were not represented in the original map, but which
are indicated here. It is not impossible that they are natural, and
were formed by successive «slips» or slides of earth, a feature not
uncommon at the West. They nevertheless, from their great regularity,
appear to be artificial, and are so regarded by most persons. A very
fine view of the valley, in both directions, is commanded from them;
though, perhaps, no better than may be obtained from the brow of the
hill along which the embankment runs. It has been suggested that they
were designed as stations, from which to annoy an enemy passing in
boats or canoes along the river. This feature is illustrated in the
section «r s».

From a point near the two large mounds on the neck of the peninsula,
start off two parallel walls, which continue for about thirteen
hundred and fifty feet, when they diverge suddenly, but soon close
around a small mound. As this outwork is in cultivated grounds, it
has been so much obliterated as to escape ordinary observation,
and is now traceable with difficulty. These parallels are shown in
the Supplementary Plan A. They are almost identical, in all their
dimensions, with similar parallels attached to ancient works in the
Scioto valley.

It is a feature no less worthy of remark in this than in other works
of the same class, and one which bears directly upon the question of
their design, that at all the more accessible points, the defences
are of the greatest solidity and strength. Across the isthmus
connecting this singular peninsula with the table land, the wall is
nearly double the height that it possesses at those points where the
conformation of the ground assisted the builders in securing their
position. The average height of the embankment is between nine and
ten feet; but, at the place mentioned, it is no less than «twenty».
At the spur where the State road ascends the hill, and where the
declivity is most gentle, the embankment is also increased in height
and solidity, being at this time not less than fourteen feet high by
sixty feet base.

There are over seventy gateways or interruptions in the embankment,
at irregular intervals along its line. For reasons heretofore given,
it is difficult to believe they were all designed as places of
ingress or egress. We can only account for their number, upon the
hypothesis that they are places once occupied by block-houses or
bastions composed of timber, and which have long since decayed. These
openings appear to have been originally about ten or fifteen feet in

[Illustration: VIII. Ancient Works:

Nos. 1–2. Butler Co. Ohio.

No. 3. Miami Co. Ohio.

No. 4. Montgomery Co. Ohio.]

This work, it will be seen, consists of two grand divisions, the
passage between which is long and narrow. Across this neck is carried
a wall of the ordinary dimensions, as if to prevent the further
progress of an enemy, in the event of either of the principal
divisions being carried,—a feature which, while it goes to establish
the military origin of the work, at the same time evinces the skill
and foresight of the builders. This foresight is further shown,
in so managing the excavations necessary for the erection of the
walls, as to form numerous large reservoirs; sufficient, in [p021]
connection with the springs originating within the work, to supply
with water any population which might here make a final stand before
an invader. Even in the absence of these sources, surrounded as the
work is on every hand by streams, it would be easy, in face of the
most formidable investment, to procure an adequate supply.

At numerous points in the line of embankment, and where from
position they would yield the most effective support, are found
large quantities of stones. These are water-worn, and seem, for the
most part, to have been taken from the river. If so, an incredible
amount of labor has been expended in transporting them to the places
which they now occupy,—especially will it appear incredible, when we
reflect that all of them were doubtless transported by human hands.

A review of this magnificent monument cannot fail to impress us
with admiration of the skill which selected, and the industry
which secured this position. Under a military system, such as we
feel warranted in ascribing to the people by whom this work was
constructed, it must have been impregnable. In every point of view,
it is certainly one of the most interesting remains of antiquity
which the continent affords.

 [From the Surveys and Notes of JAMES MCBRIDE.]

This work occurs on the bank of the Great Miami river, four miles
above the town of Hamilton, in Butler county, Ohio, and is one
of the most interesting hill-works known. It corresponds in all
essential particulars with those of the same class already described.
It occupies the summit of a promontory cut from the table lands
bordering the Miami river, which upon three sides presents high and
steep natural banks, rendered more secure for purposes of defence by
artificial embankments thrown up along their brows. The remaining
side is defended by a wall and ditch, and it is from this side only
that the work is easy of approach. The walls are low, measuring
at this time but about four feet in height. The area enclosed is
level, subsiding somewhat towards the north, so as to form a sort
of natural terrace along the river. Previous to the construction of
the Miami canal, this terrace was eight or ten rods wide, having a
perpendicular bank next the river, some fifty or more feet high. Upon
this terrace are situated several small mounds. The point indicated
by «c» in the plan is the most elevated within the enclosure.
The ground here was intermixed with large stones, most of which
were removed in building the canal. Among them, it is said, were
found several human skeletons, and also a variety of carved stone

The most interesting feature in connection with this work is the
entrance on the south, of which the enlarged plan can alone afford
a fair conception. The ends [p022] of the wall curve inwardly
as they approach each other, upon a radius of seventy-five feet,
forming a true circle, interrupted only by the gateways. Within the
space thus formed, is a small circle one hundred feet in diameter;
outside of which and covering the gateway is a mound, «e», forty
feet in diameter and five feet high. The passage between the mound
and the embankment, and between the walls of the circles, is now
about six feet wide. The gateway or opening «d» is twenty feet wide.
This singular entrance, it will be remarked, strongly resembles
the gateways belonging to a work already described («Plate VI.»),
although much more regular in its construction.

The ditches, «f f», which accompany the wall on the south, subside
into the ravines upon either side. These ravines are not far from
sixty feet deep, and have precipitous sides, rendering ascent almost
impossible. The mound «h» is three feet high.

The area of the work is seventeen acres; the whole of which is yet
covered with a dense primitive forest. The valley beyond the river
is broad, and in it are many traces of a remote population, of which
this work was probably the fortress or place of last resort, during
turbulent periods.


This work is situated six miles south-west of the town of Hamilton,
in Butler county, Ohio. It has no very remarkable features, although
possessing the general characteristics of this class of works. It
consists of a simple embankment of earth carried around the brow
of a high, detached hill, overlooking a wide and beautiful section
of the Miami valley. The side of the hill on the north, towards
the river, is very abrupt, and rises to the height of one hundred
and twenty feet above the valley. The remaining sides are steep,
though comparatively easy of ascent. The walls are scarcely four
feet high, and seem to have been much reduced by time. There are six
gateways, two of which open upon natural bastions or look-outs, and
the remaining four towards copious springs, as shown in the plan. The
ground within the walls rises gradually to the centre, from which an
extended view of the valley and surrounding country may be obtained.
There are two mounds of earth placed near together on the highest
point within the enclosure, measuring respectively ten feet in height.

South-east of the work, and nine hundred feet distant, is an eminence
A, about fifty feet higher than the one occupied by the above
mentioned work,—being much the highest point in the neighborhood. The
area on the top is, however, inconsiderable. There are some traces of
ancient occupation here, though they are far from being distinct or
considerable. [p023]


The enclosure here represented is situated on the left bank of the
Great Miami river, two and a half miles above the town of Piqua,
Miami county, Ohio, upon the farm of Col. John Johnston, a prominent
actor in the early history of Ohio. It occupies the third terrace,
which here forms a bluff peninsula, bounded on three sides by
streams. The banks of the terrace vary from fifty to seventy-five
feet in height. The embankment is carried along the boundaries of the
peninsula, enclosing an oval-shaped area of about eighteen acres.
It is composed of earth intermixed with large quantities of stone,
and is unaccompanied by a ditch. The stones that enter into the
composition of the rampart are water-worn, and must have been brought
from the bed of the river; which, according to Dr. Drake, for two
miles opposite this work, does not at present afford a stone of ten
pounds weight. A mound, five feet high and surrounded by a ditch,
occurs within the work. There is also another, exterior to the walls,
upon the second terrace, towards the river. This is classed as a
defensive work, for very obvious reasons.[16]

Below this entrenchment, and on the present site of the town of
Piqua, a group of works formerly existed, consisting of circles,
ellipses, etc. These have been described at length, by Major
Long.[17] There are also various small works on the opposite bank of
the Miami. Indeed, the whole valley is here covered with traces of a
former dense population.

 PLATE VIII. No. 4.[18]

This work resembles one already described, No. 2 of this Plate. It
is situated on the bank of the Great Miami river, three miles below
Dayton, Montgomery county, Ohio. The side of the hill towards the
river is very steep, rising to the [p024] height of one hundred and
sixty feet. The remaining sides are less abrupt. Upon the south is
the principal gateway, and here the declivity is gentle. This gateway
is covered upon the interior by a ditch, «c c», twenty feet wide, and
seven hundred feet long. At «d d d» are dug holes, from which it is
apparent a portion of the earth composing the embankments was taken.
At «b» is a natural depression forty feet deep, and covering not far
from one and a half acres. At the northern slope of the narrow ridge
which intersects the work, and within the line of the embankment of
which it forms a part, is a small mound. From its top a full view
of the surrounding country, for a long distance up and down the
river, may be obtained. A terrace, apparently artificial, skirts the
north-west side of the hill, thirty feet below the embankment. As
remarked in a former instance, this terrace may be natural; it has,
however, all the regularity of a work of art.

 PLATE IX. No. 1.

The work here represented is situated two miles below the town of
Granville, Licking county, Ohio. It encloses the summit of a high
hill, and embraces an area of not far from eighteen acres. The
embankment is, for the most part, carried around the hill at a
considerable distance below its brow, and is completely overlooked
from every portion of the enclosed area. Unlike all other hill-works
which have fallen under notice, the ditch occurs «outside» of the
wall; the earth in the construction of the latter having been thrown
upwards and inwards. This is observed equally at the points where
the hill is steepest; and the result has been, in the lapse of time,
that the ditch is almost obliterated, while the accumulating earth
has filled the space above the wall, so that the appearance of the
defence, at these points, is that of a high, steep terrace. The
height of the wall varies at different places; where the declivity
is gentle and the approach easy, it is highest,—perhaps eight or
ten feet from the bottom of the ditch; elsewhere it is considerably
less. The embankment conforms generally to the shape of the hill. It
is interrupted by three gateways, two of which open towards springs
of water, and the other, or principal one, upon a long narrow spur,
which subsides gradually into the valley of Raccoon creek, affording
a comparatively easy ascent.

[Illustration: IX.

No. 1. Fortified Hill, Near Granville, Licking Co. Ohio.

No. 2. Fortified Hill, Near the mouth of the Great Miami River,
Hamilton Co. Ohio.

No. 3. Ancient Work, near Lexington, Kentucky.]

Upon the highest part of the ground enclosed in this work, is a small
circle, one hundred feet in diameter, within which are two small
mounds. There is also another truncated mound, a little distance
to the northward of the circle. The mounds within the circle, upon
excavation, were found, in common with all similar structures
occurring within enclosures, to contain «altars». No enduring remains
seem to have been deposited upon these altars, which were covered
with ashes, intermixed with small fragments of pottery. This is
the only hill-work which has [p025] been observed to embrace a
minor work of the description here represented. The character of
the principal enclosure can hardly be mistaken; it is palpably a
defensive work, although deficient in that grand essential, a supply
of water. If we concede, what can hardly admit of doubt, that the
minor structure had a sacred or superstitious origin, we must of
necessity arrive at the conclusion that the altars of the ancient
people sometimes accompanied their defences.

This work constitutes one of the Newark Group, and is indicated
by the letter B in the “«Map of six miles of the Newark Valley»,”
presented upon a succeeding plate. This section of country was once
densely populated, as is evidenced by the number and extent of the
ancient remains which it includes; and it is probable that the work
here noticed, together with one of like character upon the opposite
side of the valley, three miles distant, constituted the places of
last resort of the ancient inhabitants. The extensive works in the
immediate vicinity of Newark, of which a full account is elsewhere
given, can hardly be supposed to partake of a military character.

 PLATE IX. No. 2.[19]

This work is strictly analogous to the other hill-works already
described, and is so well exhibited in the engraving as to need
little explanation. It occupies the summit of a steep, insulated
hill, and consists of a wall carried along its brow, composed of
earth, thrown as usual in such cases from the interior. The wall
conforms strictly to the outline of the hill, except at the west,
where there is a considerable promontory, which is left unenclosed.
Upon this promontory is a mound, corresponding doubtless in its
purposes with the one on the principal avenue of approach to the
remarkable fortified hill, higher up on the Miami, in Butler
county (Plate VI.) The late President Harrison regarded this work
as admirably designed for defence, and as evincing extraordinary
military skill. He says:

“The work at the mouth of the Great Miami was a citadel, more
elevated than the Acropolis of Athens, although easier of access, as
it is not like the latter a solid rock, but upon three sides is as
nearly perpendicular as could be, to be composed of earth. A large
space of the low ground was, however, enclosed by walls uniting it
with the Ohio. The foundation of that (being of stone as well as
those of the citadel) which formed the western defence, is still
visible where it crosses [p026] the Miami river, which, at the
period of the erection of the work, must have discharged itself into
the Ohio at a point much lower down than it now does. I have never
been able to discover the eastern wall of the enclosure; but if its
direction from the citadel to the Ohio was such as it should have
been, to embrace the largest space with the least labor, there could
not have been less than three hundred acres enclosed.”[20]

 PLATE IX. No. 3.

This work is situated at the junction of the Town and South forks of
the Elkhorn river, seven miles from the town of Lexington, Kentucky.
Its character is sufficiently explained by the engraving. It is
entirely singular in having a stream, of considerable size, running
through it. The river has probably encroached upon its original
proportions. About one hundred yards to the eastward of this work is
a small, oblong enclosure, and a large, elliptical, truncated mound.
Other mounds and enclosures occur in the vicinity.[21]


The work here presented is one of the largest and most interesting
in the Scioto valley. It has many of the characteristics of a
work of defence, and is accordingly classified as such, although
differing in position and some other respects from the entrenched
hills just described. The minor works which it encloses, or which
are in combination with it, are manifestly of a different character,
probably religious [p027] in their design, and would seem to point
to the conclusion, that this was a fortified town, rather than a
defensive work of last resort.

[Illustration: X. North Fork, Works, Ross Co. Ohio.]

It is situated on the North fork of Paint creek, on the estate of W.
C. CLARK, Esq. and occupies the entire width of the second terrace,
which here presents a broad and level plain, of exceeding beauty and
fertility. Its general form is that of a parallelogram, twenty-eight
hundred feet by eighteen hundred, with one of its corners somewhat
rounded. On the side next the creek, it is bounded by a wall four
feet high, running along the very edge of the terrace-bank, and
conforming to its irregularities; these however are slight. Its
remaining sides are bounded by a wall and exterior ditch; the
wall is six feet high by thirty-five feet base, and the ditch of
corresponding dimensions. The lines ascend the declivity of the table
land back of the terrace, and extend along its brow, dipping into the
ravines and rising over the ridges into which it has been cut by the
action of water. Wherever the ravines are of any considerable depth,
the wall has been washed away; but in all cases leaving evidences
that it once extended uninterruptedly through. The bank of the
terrace is thirty, that of the table-land fifty feet in height.

The area thus enclosed is one hundred and eleven acres. To the right
of the principal work, and connecting with it by a gateway at its
centre, is a smaller work of «sixteen acres area». It is a «perfect
square»; its sides measuring respectively eight hundred and fifty
feet. It has gateways at the middle of each side, thirty feet wide,
and covered by small mounds, which are placed fifty feet interior to
the walls. There are gateways also at the two outer corners, which
are unaccompanied by mounds. The opening which leads to the principal
enclosure is twice as wide as the others. The walls of the smaller
work are much lighter than those of the large one, and have no
attendant ditch.

[Illustration: Fig. 3.]

Within the area of the great work, are two small ones: one of them
is a perfect circle, three hundred and fifty feet in diameter,
bounded by a single slight wall, with a gateway opening to the
west; the other is a semi-circular enclosure, two thousand feet in
circumference, bounded by a slight circumvallation and ditch as
represented in the plan. Within this last enclosure (of which Fig.
3 is a view) are seven mounds; three of which are joined together,
forming a continuous elevation thirty feet high by five hundred feet
long, and one hundred and eighty broad at the base. (See longitudinal
section «n o».) The ground within this work appears to be elevated
above the general level of the plain, whether designedly or by the
wasting of the mounds it is impossible to say. There are other
mounds at the points indicated in the plan, most of which have been
explored; with what results will appear in the chapter on mounds.
It may nevertheless be proper to remark, that nearly all the mounds
examined were places of sacrifice, containing altars; thus confirming
the opinion already confidently expressed, respecting the character
of the work.

Where the defences descend from the table lands to the left, is a
gully or [p028] torrent-bed, which, before the construction of this
work, kept the course indicated by the dotted line «x». It was turned
by the builders from its natural channel into the ditch, along which
it still runs for a considerable distance; but at one place it has
broken over the wall, obliterating it for nearly two hundred feet. It
is dry at most seasons of the year; and, unless much swollen by the
rains, keeps the course of the ditch, terminating in a deep gully,
formed by the flow of water from a copious and unfailing spring. This
gully is made to answer as a ditch, for the space yet intervening,
to the edge of the terrace. It is fifteen feet deep, by sixty or
seventy wide. In several other instances, this artificial change in
water-courses has been observed.

The gateways of this work are six in number; one opening into the
smaller enclosure to the east, two upon the table lands, one to
the spring first mentioned, and two others towards the creek. Two
considerable springs occur within the walls. It is not necessary,
however, upon the hypothesis already advanced in respect to this
work, to suppose its ancient population wholly dependent upon these
sources for their supply of water; inasmuch as it is very evident
that many centuries have not elapsed since the creek, now one hundred
rods distant, washed the base of the terrace upon which it stands.
Indeed, until recently, and until prevented by dykes above, the creek
at its highest stages continued to send a portion of its waters along
its ancient channel.

The slight wall along the terrace bank is composed chiefly of smooth,
water-worn stones, taken from the creek, and cemented together by
tough, clayey earth. The wall of the square is wholly of clay, and
its outlines may be easily traced by the eye, from a distance, by
its color. It appears, as do the embankments of many other works, to
have been slightly burned. This appearance is so marked, as to induce
some persons to suppose that the walls were, in certain instances,
originally composed of bricks partially baked, but which have in
process of time lost their form, and subsided into a homogeneous
mass. That they have in some cases been subjected to the action of
fire, is too obvious to admit of doubt. At the point «z» in the lower
wall of the square, stones and large masses of pebbles and earth,
much burned, and resembling a ferruginous conglomerate, are turned
up by the plough. May not this feature be accounted for by supposing
the walls to have been originally surmounted by palisades, which were
destroyed by the action of fire? Such a cause, however, seems hardly
adequate to produce so striking results.

The broken table land upon which the main work extends, forms natural
bastions at «T» and «S», which have gateways opening to them. At the
point marked «C» in the embankment, a quantity of calcined human
bones are observable.

[Illustration: XI. Ancient Work, Butler Co. Ohio.]

Such are some of the features of this interesting work; and if their
detail has been tedious, it may be urged in extenuation of such
minuteness, that descriptions have hitherto been quite too vague and
general. Minute circumstances are often of the first importance in
arriving at correct conclusions. The comparative slightness of the
wall and the absence of a ditch, at the points possessing natural
defences,—the extension of the artificial defences upon the table
lands overlooking and commanding the terrace,—the facilities afforded
for an abundant supply of water, as well as the large area enclosed,
with its mysterious circles and sacred [p029] mounds,—«all» go to
sustain the conclusion, that this was a fortified town or city of the
ancient people. The history of its fall, if its strange monuments
could speak, would perhaps tell of heroic defence of homes and
altars, and of daring achievements in siege and assault.

The amount of labor expended in the construction of this work, in
view of the imperfect means at the command of the builders, is
immense. The embankments measure together nearly «three miles» in
length; and a careful computation shows that, including mounds, not
less than three millions cubic feet of earth were used in their

Within this work, some of the most interesting discoveries recorded
in this volume were made.

 PLATE XI. No. 1.
 [From the Surveys and Notes of JAMES MCBRIDE.]

This highly interesting work is situated in Butler county, Ohio,
on the banks of Seven Mile creek, five miles north of the town of
Hamilton. It is formed by two irregular lines of embankment, and an
exterior ditch, cutting off a jutting point of the second terrace;
and has an area of twenty-five acres. These embankments are parallel
throughout, and were evidently both made from the same ditch. The
outer one has an average height of four, the inner one of three feet.
The ditch is between five and six feet deep, by thirty-five feet
wide. At the southern portion of the work, both walls and the ditch
have their greatest dimensions. The side of the work next the stream
is bounded by an abrupt natural bank, eighteen feet high. Distant a
few rods from the north-eastern angle of the work, is an elliptical
mound eleven feet high; its conjugate and transverse diameters are
ninety-two and one hundred and eighteen feet respectively.

This work has a single gateway thirty feet wide. The inner wall,
near its southern extremity, curves inward along the terrace-bank
for a considerable distance. The first, or creek terrace, is a low
alluvion, not subject to overflow. It is evident, however, that the
creek once ran at the base of the natural bank (now bounding one
side of this work), probably at the period of its construction and

 PLATE XI. No. 2.

This work affords a very fair illustration of one portion of the
defensive structures of the West, already alluded to in the general
remarks on the subject, at the [p030] beginning of this chapter.
It occurs in Oxford township, Butler county, Ohio (Lot 6, Sec. 31,
Tp. 5, Range 2, E. M.), at a point on Four Mile creek, where that
stream forms a remarkable bend, constituting a peninsula one thousand
and sixty feet across at its neck, and one thousand three hundred
and twenty feet deep. This peninsula is, in fact, a bold head-land,
with precipitous banks, rising sixty feet above the water in the
creek, and overlooking the low bottoms that surround it. Across the
neck of this peninsula is carried a crescent-shaped wall with an
outer ditch. The wall is now but little over three feet in height,
and the ditch of corresponding depth. Formerly it was much higher,
precluding cultivation. It has been reduced by the present occupant,
who has ploughed along it longitudinally, throwing the furrows into
the ditch,—a common practice, which is fast reducing and obliterating
these interesting monuments of antiquity. A single gateway twenty
feet wide leads into the enclosure, which has an area of twenty
acres. A terrace, apparently artificial, and thirty feet wide, occurs
on the northern bank, at about midway from the water to the top.
It may be a natural feature, and caused by the subsidence of the
bank from the undermining of the stream. The creek, at one time,
unquestionably ran close under the banks of the peninsula; whether or
not the recession, leaving the intervening low bottom, B, took place
subsequently to the erection of the work, it is of course impossible
to determine.

In this work will be remarked the lapping round of the parapet,
on the natural bank of the stream at «b»,—a feature heretofore
mentioned, as probably designed to protect the flank of the defence.

 PLATE XI. No. 3.

Among the works remarkable as possessing double walls, is the one
here presented. It is situated on the Great Miami river, four miles
south-west of the town of Hamilton, Butler county, Ohio. The plan
obviates the necessity of a detailed description. The outer line
of defence consists of a simple embankment five feet high, with an
exterior ditch four feet deep. It has a single gateway fifteen feet
wide. There are apparent gateways at «a a», but the ditch only is

Interior to this line of embankment, is another of less dimensions,
having also but one opening. At «b» is a large broad mound, over
which, and somewhat below the summit on the outer side, the
inner line of embankment is carried. The ditch also continues
uninterruptedly over the mound, which is thirty feet high. From
its summit, a view of the entire work and surrounding country
is commanded. Another mound, ten feet high, occurs at the point
indicated in the plan. It is composed of stone and gravel, apparently
taken from the river, and probably belongs to the class of mounds
denominated “sacrificial,”—the characteristics of [p031] which
are explained in another chapter. At «c», the outer wall appears to
have formerly extended down to a lower level; but it has been much
obliterated by the washing of the bank. The natural banks, on the
side towards the river and next to Big Run, are inaccessibly steep,
and between sixty and seventy feet high.

[Illustration: XII. Ancient Works:

No. 1. Duck River, Franklin Co. Tennessee.

No. 2. Preble Co. Ohio.

No. 3. Greene Co. Ohio.

No. 4. Ross Co. Ohio.]

The area, embraced within the exterior lines, is a trifle less than
eighteen acres. The defensive character of this work can hardly be
doubted. It has been suggested that the large mound, over which the
inner wall is carried, was designed as a look-out, or alarm post.
This may not have been its primary, but it is not impossible that
such was its secondary purpose.

 PLATE XII. No. 1.

This work is situated in Franklin county, Tennessee, at the junction
of the east and west branches of Duck river, and near the main road
from Nashville to Winchester.

“It includes an area of about thirty-two acres. The walls are
composed of stones of various sizes, collected from the surface of
the surrounding country, and rudely thrown together; there is no
appearance of their having been united by cement, nor do they exhibit
any marks of the hammer. The wall on the south is covered with a
layer of earth from one to two feet deep, and is about sixteen feet
in thickness at the base, about five feet at the top, and from eight
to ten feet high.

“At the northern extremity, near the front wall, are two conical
mounds of stone, designated by M, M, in the plan. Each of these
mounds is about six feet high, and ten feet in diameter at the base;
originally they may have been of somewhat greater altitude, and being
on the exterior of the wall, may have been intended as watch towers.
In the rear of the mounds is the northern wall, extending to a high
bank on either branch of Duck river, and opposite to a waterfall on
each, of ten or twelve feet in height. In the northern wall is an
entrance or gateway, and in the rear of the gateway are what appear
to be the remains of two stone buildings [p032] (exaggerated in
the plan), one about sixteen feet square, the other about ten feet;
the stones are rough and unhewn. Stretching south, the walls are
continued on both sides until they reach the points «a a», at a bold
limestone bluff, which forms a good natural defence. South of the
bluff the walls are continued of the same height and thickness, until
they reach the angles of the wall fronting the south, which wall also
extends from the bank of one river to the other, and has a gateway
nearly opposite to that in the northern wall. At the points «a a», it
is supposed by many who have examined this work, there were formerly
excavated passages leading to each branch of Duck river, with steps
cut in the rock. There does not, however, appear to be sufficient
evidence to sustain this conclusion. The ascent or descent is not
very difficult; the steps appear to be formed by the projection of
the rock strata; and it was no doubt by these passages that the
occupants of the work gained access to the river, and were supplied
with water.

“Near the base of the wall on the south side is a ditch, from sixteen
to twenty feet wide, and six or eight deep. A short distance farther
from the southern wall is another and much more extensive ditch or
excavation. In some places it is seventy or eighty feet wide, and
from twenty-five to thirty feet deep. The earth from these ditches
was probably removed to cover the walls of the fort, or employed in
the erection of the neighboring mounds, while the ditches themselves
constituted an additional means of defence.

“About three quarters of a mile north of this work is a mound of an
oblong form, about twenty-five feet high, one hundred feet long,
and twenty broad. On the north-west, about half a mile distant, is
another mound of similar form, twenty feet high, eighty long, and
sixty wide. These mounds are constructed with the same regularity
that distinguishes all the other works of similar character. On both
these mounds, trees are growing as large as any in the surrounding

“This work differs in its form, and in the material used in its
construction, from all others in the vicinity; but it does not
exhibit greater evidence of skill. The difference in form was
probably owing to its location; it having evidently been made to
conform in all respects to the nature of the ground. Stones were
employed because they could be readily procured. Although the hammer
had nothing to do with the preparation of the materials, it was
nevertheless a work of great labor, and the place of location was
selected with a military eye.”

Numerous other defensive works are represented to exist in Tennessee;
but very few of them have been surveyed and described. In Bedford
county there is a stone work of considerable size, the walls of
which are said to be from sixteen to twenty feet wide at the base,
and four to five feet wide on the top. Other works adjoin it. It is
generally believed to have been erected by De Soto; but in 1819 an
oak-tree standing on the wall was cut down, which exhibited three
hundred and fifty-seven annual layers, and must consequently have
been seventy-eight years old when De Soto landed in Florida.[24]

A stone work, less in size, but of the same general character,
occurs in Larue [p033] county, Kentucky. It is situated on one of
the bluffs of the Rolling Fork of Salt river, where the creek makes
a sharp bend. A plan of it is published in Collins’s History of
Kentucky, p. 398. An account of another, of much the same character,
in Allen county, is published in the same work, p. 167.

 PLATE XII. No. 2.

This work is situated at the junction of the two principal forks
of Twin creek, an affluent of the Great Miami river, six miles
south-east of the town of Eaton, Preble county, Ohio, on S. E. corner
of Sec. No. 10, Township 5, of Range 3, E. M. The plan is from a
survey by Mr. MCBRIDE.

In position and mode of construction, this work does not differ
materially from a number of others already described. The embankment
has an average height of about four feet, and the ditch is not far
from five feet deep. The bluff bordering upon the Franklin fork
of the creek is for the most part precipitous, and has an average
height of between fifty and sixty feet. At its base are several
never-failing springs. The height of the bluff fronting upon the
other fork varies from thirty feet near the end of the wall, to sixty
feet at the junction of the two streams. At its highest part, the
bluff consists of a conglomerate, composed of gravel and stones of
considerable size. It is very porous, and overhangs about ten feet.
There are a number of large cavities in it, which were once supposed
to be artificial, and the entrances to subterranean chambers. They
are formed by the disintegration of the materials composing the bluff.

Nearly in the centre of the work, in the position indicated in the
plan, is a line of large stones. They occupy a space about seven
hundred feet long, by twelve broad, and are laid compactly together.
Though much sunk in the earth, they are yet distinctly traceable.

 PLATE XII. No. 3.[25]

The fortification here presented affords a fine illustration of
the character of the ancient defences of the West. It is situated
on Massie’s creek, a tributary of the Little Miami river, seven
miles east from the town of Xenia, Greene county, [p034] Ohio; and
consists of a high promontory, bounded on all sides, excepting an
interval at the west, by a precipitous limestone cliff. Across the
isthmus, from which the ground gradually subsides towards the plain
almost as regularly as an artificial glacis, is carried a wall of
earth and stones. This wall is now about ten feet high by thirty
feet base, and is continued for some distance along the edge of the
cliff where it is least precipitous, on the north. It is interrupted
by three narrow gateways, exterior to each of which was formerly a
mound of stones, now mostly carried away. Still exterior to these
are four short crescent walls, extending across the isthmus. These
crescents are rather slight, not much exceeding, at the present time,
three feet in height. The cliff has an average height of upwards of
twenty-five feet, and is steep and almost inaccessible. At «d d» are
breaks in the limestone, where the declivity is sufficiently gentle
to admit of a passage on horseback. At E is a fissure in the cliff,
where persons may ascend on foot. The valley, or rather ravine, C C,
is three hundred feet broad. Massie’s creek, a considerable stream,
washes the base of the promontory on the north. The area bounded by
the cliff and embankment is not far from twelve acres. The whole is
now covered with the primitive forest.

The natural strength of this position is great, and no inconsiderable
degree of skill has been expended in perfecting its defences. A
palisade, if carried around the brow of the cliff and along the
summit of the wall, would render it impregnable to savage assault.
About one hundred rods above this work, on the opposite side of the
creek, is a small circle, two hundred feet in diameter, enclosing a
mound. About the same distance below, upon the same bank, is a large
conical mound, thirty feet in height and one hundred and forty feet
in diameter at the base. No other works of magnitude are known to
exist, nearer than the great defensive structure on the Little Miami
(Plate VII.), twenty-one miles distant.

 PLATE XII. No. 4.

This work, unlike those just described, occurs upon the high
table-land bordering the Scioto river bottoms, on the west bank
of that stream, twelve miles above the city of Chillicothe. It
consists of a single wall and ditch, cutting off a high promontory,
formed by the declivity of the table land, and the bank of a wide
and deep ravine. These banks are not far from one hundred feet in
height, and at most points are absolutely inaccessible. It has a
single gateway, opening towards a copious spring, at the head of the
ravine just mentioned. The wall is four feet high, and the ditch of
corresponding depth. There are no mounds within this enclosure, nor
in its immediate vicinity; but a number of natural elevations are
discernible, which an unpractised eye might mistake for works of art.
In this instance, they may have subserved some of the purposes of the
mounds. [p035] The water flowing through the ditch has formed deep
gullies at the points where it terminates. The soil is here clayey
and hard. The level at the foot of the promontory upon which this
work stands, is the first or latest-formed terrace of the Scioto;
indicating that the river, at one period, swept along where the Ohio
canal now passes.

[Illustration: XIII. Ancient Works:

No. 1. In Bourbon Co. Kentucky.

No. 2. Near Colerain, Butler Co. Ohio.]


This work, which seems incontestibly of a defensive character, is
situated on Stoner’s creek, at the mouth of Flat Run, in Bourbon
county, Kentucky. The wall throughout is composed of earth, and is
slight, not exceeding three or four feet in height. A number of
mounds and excavations occur within the enclosure, together with
other remains, consisting of raised outlines, two or three feet broad
and one foot high. These are indicated by the letter «a», and are
denominated “remains of dwellings” by Rafinesque. Twenty of them are
found within, and fourteen without the walls; the latter occupying
the point of land to the north of the enclosure. The larger one is
called “the palace” by our fanciful authority, and is represented
to be eighty feet long by seventy-five broad. To the north of “the
palace” is an elliptical, hollow area, fifteen feet deep; it is
indicated by the letter «c». A number of irregular excavations are
marked by the letter «d». The Lexington road passes through this work.

 PLATE XIII. No. 2.[26]
 [From the Surveys and Notes of JAMES MCBRIDE.]

This work is one of the first magnitude; and in many respects bears
a close resemblance to the great work on the North fork of Paint
creek. (See Plate IX.) It is situated near the village of Coleraine,
Hamilton county, Ohio, on the right bank of the Great Miami river,
and encloses an area of ninety-five acres. The walls have an average
height of nine feet, and have an exterior ditch of proportionate
dimensions. The terrace upon which the work is located is thirty feet
above the usual stage of water in the river. [p036]

The outwork, of which A is an enlarged plan, possesses all the
features of a bastion, and was perhaps designed as such. It could
hardly have been intended as a gateway; for, although the ditch is
interrupted for a narrow space at «c», the embankment is unbroken.

The transverse section of the wall, «a b», demonstrates the
artificial origin of the work, which it is not probable any one would
be disposed to deny. The upheaved gravel upon the exterior side of
the wall, wherever it is under cultivation, supports dwarfed and
sickly maize; while on the inner side, the grain is luxuriant. This
feature and its cause are indicated in the section.

This work, which was undoubtedly defensive, commands a large
peninsula, two miles in circumference, formed by a singular bend
in the river. About two hundred paces distant from this enclosure,
in a southern direction, is the site of old Fort Dunlap, somewhat
celebrated in the early history of the Miami valley. It was invested
by the notorious Simon Girty, with a force of six hundred Indians, in
1791, without success. Some distance from the fort, and still further
to the south, is a hill three hundred feet in altitude, upon the
top of which are two mounds, measuring five and ten feet in height,
respectively. They are composed of earth and stones, considerably


NUMBER 1.—This work is situated near the north line of Pickaway
county, Ohio, on the right bank of the Scioto river. It is entirely
analogous to many of those already described; and is only remarkable
as possessing three lines of embankment, with corresponding ditches,
as shown by the section «a b». “The ditches are here interior to
the walls, which circumstance is adverse to the idea of a defensive
origin. The situation, however, with a steep bank and deep water on
one side, and deep ravines with precipitous banks on the others, is
one of great natural strength and adaptation for defence. The walls
are now very slight.”

NUMBER 2.—This work is, in most respects, similar to the one last
described. It is situated four and a half miles north of Worthington,
Franklin county, Ohio, on the left bank of Olentangy creek. The
artificial defences consist simply of an embankment of earth, three
feet in height, with an exterior ditch of corresponding depth. The
natural defences are sufficiently obvious. Both of these plans are
from surveys by CHARLES WHITTLESEY, Esq.

NUMBERS 3 AND 4.—The character of these works is sufficiently
explained by the engravings. From the position of the ditch and other
obvious circumstances, they have been classed as of defensive origin.
They are from the Rafinesque MSS. [p037]

[Illustration: XIV. Ancient Works:

No. 1. Pickaway Co. Ohio.

No. 2. Franklin Co. Ohio.

No. 3. Fayette Co. Kentucky.

No. 4. 6 m. from Lexington, Fayette Co. Kentucky.]

[Illustration: XV. Ancient Works:

No. 1. Norwalk, Huron Co. Ohio.

No. 2. Near Conneaut, Ashtibula Co. Ohio.

No. 3. 3 Miles S. E. of Cleveland, Cuyahoga Co. Ohio.]


The succeeding plans and descriptions, relating to aboriginal
monuments of northern Ohio, were communicated by CHARLES WHITTLESEY,
Esq., of Cleveland, whose archæological researches have been both
extensive and accurate.

NUMBER 1. «Ancient Works near Norwalk, Huron county, Ohio.»—“The
relative positions of the various works composing this group are
given by the eye; they are nevertheless sufficiently accurate. The
individual works are laid down from actual survey.

“The enclosure A is principally in a field long cultivated, and is
scarcely traceable. The ditch is exterior to the wall, and exists
only upon the north-west and south-west sides. The walls were very
much reduced: when first seen by the whites, they scarcely exceeded
eighteen inches in height. The ditch was of corresponding depth.

“The enclosure B occupies a promontory of gravelly land, elevated
about forty feet above the creek. The detached circular work D is
nearly obliterated by the plough. It had a slight exterior ditch, as
had also a part of the main work B. The present height of the wall
is from one to two and a half feet; depth of ditch somewhat less.
The breadth of the embankments, at the base, varies from fifteen
to thirty feet. Within the enclosure B is an elevation of earth,
«a», of a rectangular form, about three feet high, from which a low
embankment extends to the outer wall. At «b» is a similar elevation
connected with the wall. Exterior to the work, and occupying the
point of the headland on which it stands, is a small mound, from
which a skull was taken some years since, and deposited in the museum
of the Willoughby University of Lake Erie. In it were also found the
two valves of what is described as a «clam shell», each having three
holes near the beak, suggesting the probability of a handle having
been attached at that point, so as to constitute a spoon or ladle.
Besides these were found two pipes of clay, and one of white marble,
partly disintegrated, about two and a half inches high; also, a flat
piece of a hard grayish slate, half an inch thick, wrought to an edge
at the broad end, with a hole pierced obliquely through it, called
by the finders ‘a hoe.’ A small earthen vessel, of coarse material
and rude finish, holding about a pint, accompanied these relics.
All these articles were taken from the vicinity of coals and ashes,
and burned human bones. In the hands of one of the skeletons were
pieces of clay, which had evidently been placed in them while in a
plastic state, inasmuch as they still retained the impressions of the
fingers, joints, and palms.[27] [p038]

“The work C occupies a corresponding position with those already
described, as belonging to this group. The peninsula upon which it
is situated is approachable only from the south. Upon this side the
ditch is irregular. The mounds of the central group have been opened;
but it is not known with what results. They are quite low, not
exceeding three feet in height. The wall of this work is very slight.
At the south-west is a graded passage to the lower level of the river

“Huron river or creek, several branches of which join it at this
point, is always fordable; and the bluffs which surround the
enclosures are not very difficult of ascent. These works may have
been designed for defence,—perhaps they were ‘walled towns;’ but
they do not occupy positions of great natural strength. The grounds
adjacent to the river are low, and in places swampy: the river
evidently once ran at the base of the bluff occupied by the enclosure

NUMBER 2. «Ancient Work near Conneaut, Ashtabula county, Ohio.»—“This
work is at present very slight, but distinctly traceable. The sketch
is a mere «coup d’œil», without measurements. The elevation of the
bluff upon which it stands is about seventy feet; and the banks of
aluminous slate are, upon the north, very precipitous. It would be
entirely impracticable for a body of men to ascend upon this side,
without ladders and scaling apparatus. Upon the south side it would
be practicable for an assailant to ascend, unless prevented by some
artificial obstacle. Upon this side, the wall which skirts the brow
of the hill is accompanied by an outer ditch, while upon the north
there is a simple embankment. The ascent, C C, is gradual and easy.
Within the enclosure the earth is very black and rich; outside of the
walls it is a stiff clay. The adjacent bottoms are very fertile, and
the creek is everywhere fordable. There can be no doubt that this was
a fortified position.”

Near the village of Conneaut are a number of mounds, and other traces
of an ancient population, among which is an aboriginal cemetery
regularly laid out, and of great extent.

NUMBER 3. «Ancient Work three miles south-east of Cleveland, Cuyahoga
county, Ohio.»—“This stronghold is on the great plain which extends
some miles back from the shores of Lake Erie, gently declining
towards it, and by many supposed to have been its ancient bed. Many
portions of this plain are two hundred feet above the present surface
of the lake. The marl, sand, and gravel deposits, of which this
formation is made up, are from one hundred to three hundred feet

“These materials are readily washed away by rains, springs, and
rivulets; so that the flat region is intersected by numberless deep
and narrow ravines, leaving bluff headlands, and furnishing the
ancient people with numerous positions protected on nearly every side
by deep gullies and high precipitous banks, and capable, with little
artificial aid, of easy defence. These features of the country, and
the manner in which they were made available for defensive purposes,
are well illustrated in the example here presented. The isthmus
connecting this promontory with the general table is but about two
hundred feet wide, and is defended by parallel lines [p039] of
embankments accompanied by exterior ditches. There seems to be no
gateway or opening through the outer line; the inner one, however,
terminates before reaching the bank of the ravine on the left,
leaving a narrow passage-way upon that side. The natural banks have
an angle of forty-five to sixty degrees with the horizon, and are
in many places wet and slippery, and utterly inaccessible. About
one-fourth of a mile to the eastward of this work, is a mound ten
feet high, by sixty feet in diameter at the base.”

[Illustration: Fig. 4.]

FIG. 4.—“This work is situated on the right bank of Black river, in
Sheffield township, Lorain county, Ohio. The bank of the river is
here nearly perpendicular and quite impossible of ascent, except by
ropes or something equivalent, and is about sixty feet high. The
water level of the lake reaches to this spot, and the river is in
consequence too deep to be forded. The position seems to have been
selected for the purpose of defence, although the land back of it is
on the same level.

“The artificial defences consist of double embankments, with an
intermediate ditch. The embankments are very slight, not much
exceeding a foot in height. It is not improbable that the ditch
was occupied by wooden pickets, supported by embankments on either
side. The work could not have afforded any protection, except with
additional defences,—palisades, or something of the sort. Within the
enclosure the soil is very rich; but without, it is clayey and poor.
The gateway, opening to the north, is forty feet wide.”

[Illustration: Fig. 5.]

FIG. 5.—“This work is situated in the same township with that last
described. It is bounded upon three sides by a vertical slate bluff,
and defended upon the fourth by a double line of embankments, with
accompanying exterior ditches. The height of the walls is about eight
feet, measuring from the bottom of the ditches. There is an opening
or passage-way through the outer line, but none through the inner.
We may account for this circumstance by supposing the latter to have
been thrown up after the commencement of a siege. As usual, the soil
within this work is very rich compared with that without the walls.
Under any mode of attack known to barbarians, this must have been an
impregnable work. Upon the other side of the creek, are bluffs of
equal height with that upon which this defence is located; but they
are too far distant to afford positions of annoyance to besiegers.”

[Illustration: Fig. 6.]

FIG. 6.—“This work is situated upon the Cuyahoga river, eight miles
above Cleveland, Ohio. It corresponds, in all essential particulars,
with the one on the same stream, five miles below, which has already
been described. The ground has been so long under cultivation that
the parallels are with difficulty traced; they are not more than a
foot or eighteen inches high. The ditch is of corresponding depth.
Between the lines there is a depression,—undoubtedly artificial in
its origin, but now much deepened by rains. The soil is a clay-loam,
and the area very difficult of access from all sides. The bluff is
here from one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet high.”

[Illustration: Fig. 7.]

FIG. 7.—“This work is situated on the Cuyahoga river, two miles
below that last described, with which it coincides in respect to
position. It has, however, but a single wall and ditch; the latter
is from two to four feet deep, the former of proportionate height.
There is a gateway or unexcavated passage across the ditch, but no
corresponding opening in the embankment. There is, however, a narrow,
unprotected space between the left end of the defences and the bluff.
The elevation of the ground is here about two hundred feet above the
river, the soil sandy, and lately put under cultivation. The bluff
is steep and difficult of ascent. Water is found in the adjacent
ravines, which are narrow and deep.”

[Illustration: Fig. 8.]

FIG. 8.—“This work is situated on the right bank of the Maumee river,
two miles above Toledo, in Wood county, Ohio. The water of the
river is here deep and still, and of the lake level; the bluff is
about thirty-five feet high. Since the work was built, the current
has undermined a portion, and parts of the embankment are to be
seen on the slips at «a a». The country for miles in all directions
is flat and wet, though heavily timbered, as is the space in and
around this enclosure. The walls, measuring from the bottoms of the
ditches, are from three to four feet high. They are not of uniform
dimensions throughout their extent; and as there is no ditch on the
south-west side, while there is a double wall and ditch elsewhere, it
is presumable that the work was abandoned before it was finished.”

“Nothing can be more plain, than that most of the remains in northern
Ohio, particularly those on the Cuyahoga river, are military works.
There have not yet been found any remnants of timber in the walls;
yet it is very safe to presume that palisades were planted on them,
and that wooden posts and gates were erected at the passages left in
the embankments and ditches.

“All the positions are contiguous to water; and none of them have
higher land in their vicinity, from which they might in any degree
be commanded. Of the works bordering on the shore of Lake Erie,
through the State of Ohio, there are none but may have been intended
for defence; although in some of them the design is not perfectly
manifest. They form a line from Conneaut to Toledo, at a distance
of from three to five miles from the lake; and all stand upon or
near the principal rivers. There are probably five of them as yet
unknown, to one that has been publicly noticed. In the interior of
the State, so far as my observation has extended, this class of
works is wanting. Their place is supplied by larger works, situated
on low lands, their strength depending more on artifice than on
position.[28] They are so different, that I am disposed to regard
them, not only as designed for other purposes, but as the work of
another and probably later people.

“The most natural inference in respect to the northern cordon of
works is, that they formed a well-occupied line, constructed either
to protect the advance of a nation landing from the lake and moving
southward for conquest; or, a line of resistance for a people
inhabiting these shores and pressed upon by their southern neighbors.
The scarcity of mounds, the absence of pyramids of earth, which are
so common on the Ohio, the want of rectangular and other regular
works, at the north,—all these differences tend to the conclusion
that the northern part of Ohio was occupied by a distinct people.

“At the north there is generally more than one wall of earth, and
the ditches are invariably exterior. There are sometimes passages,
or ‘sally-ports,’ through the outer parallel, and none through the
inner one. There is also, in general, a space between the parallels
sufficiently large to contain a considerable body of fighting men.
By whatever people these works were built, they were much engaged
in offensive or defensive wars. At the south, on the other hand,
agriculture and religion seem to have chiefly occupied the attention
of the ancient people.

“In view of the above facts, we may venture to suggest a hypothesis,
without undertaking to assign to it any more than a basis of
probability. Upon the assumption that two distinct nations occupied
the State,—that the northern were warlike, and the southern peaceful
and agricultural in their habits,—may we not suppose that the latter
were overcome by their northern neighbors, who built the military
works to be observed upon the Ohio and its tributaries, while the
more regular structures are the remains of the conquered people?”

The differences between the northern and southern earthworks, pointed
out by Mr. Whittlesey, are not greater than would naturally be
exhibited between the structures of a sparse frontier population,
and those erected by more central and dense communities. Works,
generally corresponding with those here described, are found still
further to the northward and eastward; extending to the Genesee river
and its tributaries in New-York, and even to the head waters of the
Susquehanna in Pennsylvania,—which seems to have been the extreme
limit to which the mound-builders penetrated in that direction. From
plans previously presented, it will be seen that precisely analogous
works occur in Kentucky and Tennessee. It will be seen also, in a
succeeding chapter, on the “Antiquities of the Southern States,” that
similar structures are found in Mississippi, and elsewhere along the

The examples of defensive works here presented will serve to give a
very accurate conception of this class of structures. By a minute
attention to their various details, we are prepared to estimate the
judgment, skill, and industry of their builders. No one can rise from
such an examination, except with the conviction that the race, by
whom these works were erected, possessed no inconsiderable knowledge
of the science of defence,—a degree of knowledge much superior to
that known to have been possessed by the hunter tribes of North
America previous to the discovery by Columbus, or indeed subsequent
to that event. Their number and magnitude must also impress the
inquirer with enlarged notions of the power of the people commanding
the means for their construction, and whose numbers required such
extensive works for their protection. It is not impossible that,
like the defensive enclosures of the Polynesian Islanders, they were
to a certain extent designed to embrace cultivated fields, so as to
furnish the means of subsistence to their defenders, in the event of
a protracted siege. There is no other foundation, however, for this
suggestion, than that furnished by the great size of some of them.
The population that found shelter within their walls must have been
exceedingly large, if their dimensions may be taken as the basis of a

There is no positive evidence that the mound-builders fully
understood the value of the bastion in their works of defence;
although they seem, in some instances, to have secured the projecting
points of the hills on which their defences are situated, with a
view of enfilading the walls. The fortified hill near the mouth of
the Great Miami, (Plate IX,) and Fort Hill, in Highland county,
afford examples. These projecting points could however, from their
wide distance apart, but very imperfectly answer the purpose of
bastions; and the supposition that they were thus used is rendered
less probable, from the fact that the walls oftener cut off these
points than accommodate themselves to them. It is not improbable,
notwithstanding the absence of direct evidence to that effect, that
bastions of wood were erected at intervals along the walls. Such
constructions would undeniably be the most simple and efficient for
the purposes desired. The numerous openings in the walls of many of
these works, although indiscriminately denominated gateways, were
clearly not always designed as such. It is not unwarrantable to
suppose that they mark the positions of wooden constructions, like
the block-houses of later times, [p043] which projected beyond the
walls, and answered the double purpose of bastions and watch-towers.
The very regular intervals between these openings, particularly in
the great work on the Little Miami, (Plate VII,) and the Fortified
Hill in Highland county, just mentioned, (Plate V,) would seem to
favor this hypothesis. Of course we cannot now expect to find any
traces of wooden structures, even if such entered into the original

The walls of earth and stone which constitute all that remains to us
of these aboriginal fortifications, although often high and heavy,
would nevertheless, in themselves, furnish very imperfect means of
protection and resistance. Earth cannot be heaped up so as very much
to impede an assailant; and the stone works, as far as noticed, do
not appear to have been constructed of stone regularly laid, so
as to present a vertical or inaccessible front to an enemy. These
circumstances render it sufficiently obvious that the walls were
surmounted by palisades, or by something equivalent. We are sustained
in this conclusion by the concurrent practices of all nations, known
to construct permanent works of this description. The ramparts of the
Roman camps were strengthened by stakes fixed on the top; and to this
day, the walls of «E’Pas», or entrenched hills of the New Zealanders,
are surmounted by palisades. Such also is the present practice of
some of the tribes on the Missouri,—the Minatarees, Rickarees, and
others. The walls of some works, which, from their position and other
circumstances, are manifestly of defensive origin, are so slight that
it would be absurd to suppose them designed for protection, unless
crowned with palisades. Most of those of northern Ohio are subject
to this remark. It has been asserted by certain writers on American
antiquities, that traces of palisades are yet to be seen in some of
them. Aside from the palpable improbability of anything of the sort,
it is proper to remark that no such evidences have been observed in
the course of our own investigations. A very few years of exposure
would suffice to obliterate all traces of wood in these constructions.

We have already had occasion to remark the skill with which the
gateways or entrances to these enclosures are sometimes protected by
over-lapping or concentric walls, horn-works, etc. It is rational to
conclude that means were made use of by the builders to close the
entrances effectually, when desired. How this object was accomplished
is, of course, entirely a matter of conjecture. The Australians, in
case of alarm, completely close their entrenchments with stones or
other obstructions. Entrance is effected only by a succession of
posts of different lengths, like a stile, or by the aid of notched

In connection with many of the defensive structures, mounds are
occasionally to be found, so placed as to suggest the purposes
of watch-towers, look-outs, or alarm-posts. They are sometimes
exterior, and sometimes interior to the walls of the enclosures, and
occasionally incorporated with them. Plate XI (Nos. 1 and 3) affords
examples. It is possible that this was not the primary, perhaps not
even the secondary purpose of these mounds. Proper excavations would
settle the question. In the absence of these, we can only appeal to
such light as analogy affords us in our inquiry. Such mounds were
erected by the ancient Britons for purposes of observation, both
in advance of their other defences and within them; [p044] and
the early Spanish writers speak of similar erections, for similar
purposes, by the Floridian Indians. The New Zealanders compass the
same ends by raising a tree, the branches of which have been lopped
off within a few inches of the trunk, at some elevated point within
their works.

The almost invariable presence of water within, or in immediate
proximity to these enclosures, has been the occasion of frequent
remark in the foregoing descriptions. In the absence of springs and
streams, as also where, from position, access to such supplies of
water is impracticable, we find their place supplied by reservoirs;
an evidence of the forethought of the builders, as also an index to
the true character of the works in which these features occur.

The vast amount of labor necessary to the erection of most of these
works precludes the notion that they were hastily constructed to
check a single or unexpected invasion. On the contrary, there seems
to have existed a «System of Defences» extending from the sources
of the Alleghany and Susquehanna in New York, diagonally across the
country, through central and northern Ohio, to the Wabash. Within
this range, the works which are regarded as defensive are largest
and most numerous. If an inference may be drawn from this fact, it
is that the pressure of hostilities was from the north-east; or
that, if the tide of migration flowed from the south, it received
its final check upon this line. On the other hypothesis, that in
this region originated a semi-civilization which subsequently spread
southward, constantly developing itself in its progress, until
it attained its height in Mexico, we may suppose that from this
direction came the hostile savage hordes, before whose incessant
attacks the less warlike mound-builders gradually receded, or beneath
whose exterminating cruelty those who occupied this frontier entirely
disappeared, leaving these monuments alone to attest their existence,
and the extraordinary skill with which they defended their altars and
their homes. Upon either assumption, it is clear that the contest
was a protracted one, and that the race of the mounds were for a
long period constantly exposed to attack.[29] This conclusion finds
its support in the fact that, in the vicinity of those localities,
where, from the amount of remains, it appears the ancient population
was most dense, we almost invariably find one or more works of a
defensive character, furnishing ready places of resort in times
of danger. We may suppose that a condition of things prevailed
somewhat analogous to that which attended the advance of our pioneer
population, when every settlement had its little fort, to which the
people flocked in case of alarm or attack.

It may be suggested that there existed among the mound-builders
a state of society something like that which prevailed among the
Indians; that each tribe had its separate seat, maintaining, with
its own independence, an almost constant warfare against its
neighbors, and, as a consequence, possessing its own “castle,” as
a place of final resort when invaded by a powerful foe. Apart from
the fact, [p045] however, that the Indians were hunters averse to
labor, and not known to have constructed any works approaching in
skilfulness of design or in magnitude those under notice, there is
almost positive evidence that the mound-builders were an agricultural
people, considerably advanced in the arts, possessing a great
uniformity throughout the whole territory which they occupied, in
manners, habits, and religion,—a uniformity sufficiently well marked
to identify them as a single people, having a common origin, common
modes of life, and, as an almost necessary consequence, common
sympathies, if not a common and consolidated government.

The question whether the North American Indians constructed defensive
works of this description, is one of much importance, but which
cannot be fully discussed in this connection. All the early writers
concur in representing that the Indian tribes, from Florida to
Canada, possessed common modes of defending their villages and
protecting themselves from the attacks of their enemies. Their
fortifications consisted of rows of pickets firmly fixed in the
ground, sometimes wattled together, but occasionally placed so far
apart, as to permit missiles of various kinds to be discharged
between them upon an assailant.[30] They seldom had more than a
single entrance, which, among the Floridians, was not direct, but
circuitous. Entrenchments of earth, consisting of an embankment and
ditch, do not appear to have been constructed by them. It seems,
however, that of late years, the Indians to the westward of the
Mississippi, particularly the Mandans and Rickarees, have constructed
entrenchments of earth, surmounted by palisades.[31] But whether the
practice is of recent introduction or otherwise, it is difficult to
say. It is stated by Prince Maximilian, in his Travels in America,
that the defences of the Mandan village of Mih-tutta-hang-kush,
which consisted of a wall and ditch, were built by whites, who were
employed by the Indians for that purpose.[32]

The defences of the nations of the central portion of the Continent,
and especially those of the Mexicans and Peruvians, so far as we are
informed concerning them, bore a close resemblance to those of the
mound-builders, although exhibiting a superiority entirely consonant
with the further advance which we are justified in supposing they
had made in all the arts, including the art of defence.[33] Some
reference has already been had to the actual identity which a few
of the defences of the West exhibit with those of Mexico, in some
of their most interesting features. These resemblances might be
pointed out in detail, but they will readily suggest themselves to
the Archæologist. The usual mode of fortification in Peru consisted
in throwing up a series of embankments around the summits of isolated
hills,—a practice which was common among the ancient Celts, and which
is still preserved among the Australian and Polynesian islanders.[34]
Ulloa observes, [p046] in respect to their numbers, that “one
scarcely meets with a mountain without them.” Precisely similar modes
of defence prevailed among the savage South American tribes, who
invariably crowned their entrenchments of earth with palisades of

The traces of ancient fortifications in the northern part of the
State of New York, and upon the head waters of the Susquehanna in
Pennsylvania, may, it is believed, be referred with entire safety to
the same hands with those of the Mississippi valley. It will be seen
that they have a close resemblance to those of northern Ohio, both in
position and structure.


[8] This observation is confirmed by all who have given attention
to the subject, in the Ohio and Upper Mississippi valleys. Along
the Gulf, and at points on the Lower Mississippi, where the entire
country is low, and subject to inundation, and where the operation
of natural causes is rather to elevate than depress the beds of the
streams, some of the ancient works are invaded by water.

[9] This work is marked C in the “«Map of a Section of Six Miles of
the Paint Creek Valley»,” Plate III.

[10] It has been suggested that perhaps the walls of stone were
sustained or surmounted by wooden structures of some sort, the
destruction of which, in whole or in part, by fire, caused the
appearances noticed in the text. The suggestion that these are the
traces of “ancient furnaces,” is not to be entertained for an instant.

[11] This work was first described, though not first surveyed,
by Professor LOCKE, of Cincinnati, in 1838. His description and
plan—to the accuracy and fidelity of which every visitor can bear
witness—were published in the “Second Annual Report of the Geological
Survey of Ohio.”

[12] This sandstone, it should be remarked, to prevent
misapprehension, is the “Waverley sandstone,” underlying the coal
series, and which is found capping most of the hills in this region.
It occurs in successive layers, of from a few inches to several feet
in thickness. It is quite friable, and quarries readily.

[13] “One of the mounds at Marietta must be more than eight hundred
years old; for Dr. Hildreth counted eight hundred rings of annual
growth in a tree which grew upon it.”—«Lyell’s Travels in North
America», vol. ii. p. 29. «See also Second Geological Report of the
State of Ohio», p. 268.

[14] De Solis describes this Tlascalan work as “a great wall which
ran from one mountain to the other, entirely stopping up the way: a
sumptuous and strong piece of building which showed the power and
greatness of the owner. The outside was of hewn stone cemented with
mortar of extraordinary strength. It was twenty feet thick and a
fathom and a half high; and on the top was a parapet after the manner
of our fortifications. The entrance was narrow and winding; the wall
in that part dividing and making two walls, which circularly crossed
each other for the space of ten paces.”—«History of the Conquest of
Mexico, p.» 139.

[15] An account of this work, accompanied by a very good
plan, appeared in the “Portfolio,” (a periodical published in
Philadelphia,) for the year 1809. Both plan and description were
copied by Mr. Atwater, in his memoir, in the first volume of the
“Archæologia Americana.” It was also briefly described by Dr. Drake,
in the chapter on Antiquities contained in his “View of Cincinnati.”
Since that period, it has been the object of frequent visit and

[16] Dr. Drake, in the chapter on antiquities, in his “View of
Cincinnati,” has the following notice of this work:

“The adjacent hill, at the distance of half a mile, and at the
greater elevation of about one hundred feet, is the site of a stone
wall, mainly circular, and enclosing perhaps twenty acres. The valley
of the river on one side, and a deep ravine on the other, render
access to three-fourths of this fortification extremely difficult.
The wall is carried generally along the brow of the hill, in one
place descending a short distance, so as to include a spring. The
silicious limestone of which it was built, must have been transported
from the bed of the river, which, for two miles opposite these works,
does not at present afford one of ten pounds weight. They exhibit no
marks of the hammer or any other tool. The wall was laid up without
mortar, and is now in ruins.”

[17] Long’s Second Expedition, vol. i, pp. 54–66.

[18] Surveyed by JAMES MCBRIDE, Esq and SAMUEL FORRER, Esq of the
Ohio Board of Public Works.

[19] The above plan is copied from the map accompanying
Harrison’s published Address before the Historical Society of
Ohio.—«Transactions», vol. i. p. 217.

[20] Transactions Historical Society of Ohio, vol. i. p. 225.

[21] This work is not placed in the connection which it was designed
to occupy. Its position in the text was determined by circumstances;
and its character will be better understood in the progress of this

[22] This plan is from an original, minute survey by the authors. A
plan and description of the same work were published by Mr. Atwater
in the “Archæologia Americana.” It will be found to differ in some
important respects.

[23] Two plans of this work exist among the MSS. of Rafinesque, which
differ slightly from each other. One of them coincides, however, in
all important particulars with a plan published some years ago in
the “Western Messenger,” and has therefore been adopted as probably
essentially correct. The description in the “Messenger,” which seems
to have been written by an intelligent observer, is also adopted.
It is amply sustained by the account of Judge Haywood, and by other
evidence, and it is thought may be relied on in all respects.

[24] Haywood’s Tenn. vol. ii.

[25] This work is laid down from surveys made by S. T. OWEINS,
surveyor of Greene county, and by L. K. DILLE, M.D. The survey by Mr.
Oweins was kindly communicated by W. B. Fairchild, Esq. of Xenia. The
work has also been personally examined by the authors.

[26] This work is marked C, in the map of a “«Section of six miles of
the Miami valley»,” Plate III.

[27] These relics, as also the skeletons found with them, were
probably those of the more recent Indians, and constituted a second
and comparatively late deposit. The burned remains, doubtless,
resulted from the original burial by fire. Incremation was
extensively practiced by the mound builders.

[28] “There is a small enclosure on the south line of Franklin
county, and another in Pickaway county, which closely resemble those
along the lake shore.” See Plate XIV, Nos. 1 and 2.

[29] “The Ohio fortresses were not erected for defence against a
casual invasion. The size of the walls, and the solidity of their
construction, show that the danger which they were designed to arrest
was of constant recurrence.”—«Harrison’s Discourse», «Transactions
Ohio Historical Society», vol. i. p. 263.

[30] Charlevoix, Canada, vol. ii. p. 128; Loskiel, p. 53; Du Pratz,
Louisiana, p. 375; Herrara, History of America, vol. v. p. 324.

[31] Catlin’s North American Indians, vol. i. p. 81; Lewis and Clark,
«ubi supra».

[32] Travels in North America, pp. 173, 243.

[33] De Solis, History of Mexico, p. 54; Juarros, History Guatemala,
p. 462; Stephens’s Yucatan, vol. i. pp. 165, 230; Molina, vol. ii.
pp. 10, 68; Ulloa, vol. ii. p. 27.

[34] Ellis’s Polynesian Res. vol. i. pp. 313, 314; Cook’s Second
Voyage, «ubi supra»; Pollack’s New Zealand, vol. ii. p. 26.

[35] Charlevoix, History of Paraguay, vol. i. p. 156.



The structure not less than the form and position of a large number
of the Earthworks of the West, and especially of the Scioto valley,
render it clear that they were erected for other than defensive
purposes. The small dimensions of most of the circles, the occurrence
of the ditch interior to the embankments, and the fact that many
of them are completely commanded by adjacent heights, are some
of the circumstances which may be mentioned as sustaining this
conclusion.[36] We must seek, therefore, in the connection in which
these works are found, and in the character of the mounds, if such
there be within their walls, for the secret of their origin. And
it may be observed, that it is here we discover evidences still
more satisfactory and conclusive than are furnished by their small
dimensions and the other circumstances above mentioned, that they
were not intended for defence. Thus, when we find an enclosure
containing a number of mounds, all of which it is capable of
demonstration were «religious» in their purposes, or in some way
connected with the superstitions of the people who built them, the
conclusion is irresistible, that the enclosure itself was also
deemed sacred, and thus set apart as “«tabooed»” or consecrated
ground,—especially where it is obvious, at the first glance, that it
possesses none of the requisites of a military work. But it is not to
be concluded that those enclosures alone, which contain mounds of the
description here named, were designed for sacred purposes. We have
reason to believe that the religious system of the mound-builders,
like that of the Aztecs, exercised among them a great, if not a
controlling influence. Their government may have been, for aught we
know, a government of the priesthood; one in which the priestly and
civil functions were jointly exercised, and one sufficiently powerful
to have secured in the Mississippi valley, as it did in Mexico,
the erection of many of those vast monuments, which for ages will
continue to challenge the wonder of men. There may have been certain
superstitious ceremonies, having no connection with the purposes of
the mounds, carried on in enclosures specially dedicated to them.
The purposes of the minor enclosures within and connected with the
great defensive work already described on the banks of the North fork
of Paint creek, (Plate X,) would scarcely admit of a doubt, even
though the sacred mounds which they embrace were wanting. It is a
conclusion which every day’s [p048] investigation and observation
has tended to confirm, that most, perhaps all, of the earthworks not
manifestly defensive in their character, were in some way connected
with the superstitious rites of the builders,—though in what precise
manner, it is, and perhaps ever will be, impossible satisfactorily to

The general character of these works has already been briefly
indicated. They are mostly regular in their structure, and occupy the
broad and level river bottoms, seldom occurring upon the table lands
or where the surface of the ground is undulating or broken. They
are usually square or circular in form; sometimes they are slightly
elliptical. Occasionally we find them isolated, but more frequently
in groups. The greater number of the circles are of small size, with
a nearly uniform diameter of two hundred and fifty or three hundred
feet, and invariably have the ditch interior to the wall. These have
always a single gateway, opening oftenest to the east, though by no
means observing a fixed rule in that respect. It frequently happens
that they have one or more small mounds, of the class denominated
sacrificial, within the walls. These small circles occasionally occur
within larger works of a different character. Apart from these,
numerous little circles, from thirty to fifty feet in diameter, are
observed in the vicinity of large works. They consist of very slight
embankments of earth, and have no entrances or passage ways. It
has been suggested that these are the remains of ancient lodges or
buildings. The accounts which we have of the traces left of the huts
of the Mandans and other Indians, at their deserted villages, render
this supposition not improbable. It sometimes happens that we find
small circles embracing large mounds: these can hardly be regarded as
of the same character with that numerous class already noticed.

The larger circles are oftenest found in combination with rectangular
works, connected with them directly, or by avenues. Some of these
circles are of great extent, embracing fifty or more acres. They
seldom have a ditch; but whenever it occurs, it is interior to
the wall. As in the case of the square or rectangular works to
which they are attached, (and which, it is believed, «never» have
ditches, exterior or interior,) the walls are usually composed
of earth taken up evenly from the surface, or from large pits in
the neighborhood. Evident care appears in all cases to have been
exercised, in procuring the material, to preserve the surface of
the adjacent plain smooth, and as far as possible unbroken. This
fact is in itself almost conclusive against the supposition of a
defensive design, especially as we have abundant evidence that the
mound-builders understood perfectly the value of the external fosse
in their works of defence. The walls of these works are, for the
most part, comparatively slight, varying from three to seven feet
in height. Sometimes they are quite imposing; as in the case of the
great circle at Newark, Licking county, Ohio; where, at the entrance,
the wall from the bottom of the ditch has a vertical height of not
far from thirty feet. The square or rectangular works, attending
these large circles, are of various dimensions. It has been observed,
however, that certain groups are marked by a great uniformity of
size. Five or six of these are noticed in the succeeding pages; they
are «exact» squares, each measuring one thousand and eighty feet
side,—a coincidence which could not possibly be accidental, and
which must possess some significance. It certainly establishes the
[p049] existence of some standard of measurement among the ancient
people, if not the possession of some means of determining angles.
The rectangular works have almost invariably gateways at the angles
and midway on each side, all of which are covered by small interior
mounds or elevations. In some of the larger structures the openings
are more numerous. A few of this description of remains have been
discovered which are octagonal. One of these of large size, in the
vicinity of Chillicothe, has its alternate angles coincident with
each other, and its sides equal.

Another class of works, probably akin to those here noticed, are
the parallels, consisting of slight embankments seven or eight
hundred feet in length and sixty or eighty feet apart. Indeed, so
various are these works, and so numerous their combinations, that it
is impossible, through the medium of description alone, to convey
an adequate conception of their character. If we are right in the
assumption that they are of sacred origin, and were the temples
and consecrated grounds of the ancient people, we can, from their
number and extent, form some estimate of the devotional fervor or
superstitious zeal which induced their erection, and the predominance
of the religious sentiment among their builders.

Their magnitude is, perhaps, the strongest objection that can be
urged against the purpose here assigned them. It is difficult to
comprehend the existence of religious works, extending, with their
attendant avenues, like those near Newark, over an area of little
less than «four square miles»! We can find their parallels only in
the great temples of Abury and Stonehenge in England, and Carnac in
Brittany, and must associate them with sun worship and its kindred

It was originally proposed to include within another division those
structures which were regarded as anomalous, or to which it was
impossible to assign a definite purpose. Reflection, however, has
tended to strengthen the opinion, that those works not manifestly
defensive were connected with the superstitions of the builders, and
that all the enclosures of the West (except perhaps some of the petty
circles to which allusion has been made) were either military or
religious in their origin. Those only which are obviously defensive
have been classed under the head of Defences, and all others have
been thrown together into this chapter. It is not impossible,
therefore, that some which follow should be included in the former
division; nor is it improbable that a few were designed to answer a
double purpose. [p050]


The beautiful group here represented is situated on the right bank of
the Scioto river, five miles below the town of Chillicothe, near the
road from that place to Jackson. It occurs at a place where the river
has cut its way up to the third terrace, which in consequence here
presents a bold bank, rising seventy-five or eighty feet above the
water. This point is generally known as the “«High Bank»,” and gives
its name to these works. The third terrace here spreads out into a
beautiful, level plain of great extent. The principal work consists
of an octagon and a circle; the former measuring nine hundred and
fifty feet, the latter ten hundred and fifty feet, in diameter.
The coincidences, in the dimensions, between this and the “Hopeton
Works,” (Plate XVII,) will be at once observed. The octagon is not
strictly regular; although its alternate angles are coincident, and
its sides equal. The circle is a perfect one. In immediate connection
with the work are two small circles, which are shown in the plan,
each measuring two hundred and fifty feet in diameter.

The walls of the octagon are very bold; and, where they have been
least subjected to cultivation, are now between eleven and twelve
feet in height, by about fifty feet base. The wall of the circle is
much less, nowhere measuring over four or five feet in altitude. In
all these respects, as in the absence of a ditch and the presence of
the two small circles, this work resembles the Hopeton Works already
alluded to. There are no mounds, except the small ones covering the
gateways of the octagon. About half a mile to the southward, and
connected with this work by lines of embankment, much reduced but
still traceable, is a small group of works, partially destroyed by
the river. A fourth of a mile below this subordinate group, on the
bank of the terrace, is a large truncated mound, thirty feet in
height. It does not fall within the area exhibited on the map.

At various points around this work are the usual pits or dug holes,
some of which are of large size. To the left of the great circle, on
the brow of the terrace, is an Indian burial place. The construction
of a farm road down the bank disclosed a large quantity of human
bones, accompanied by a variety of rude implements. A short distance
below this point, on the same bank of the river, is the former site
of an Indian town.

[Illustration: XVI. High Bank Works, Ross Co., Ohio.]

[Illustration: XVII. Hopeton Work, Ross Co. Ohio (four miles north of

A number of small circles occur about a hundred rods distant from
the octagon, in the forest land to the south-east. They measure
nearly fifty feet in diameter, and the walls are about two feet in
height. It has been suggested that they are [p051] the remains
of structures of some kind, and also that they were the bases of
unfinished mounds. There are no indications of entrances or passage
ways, a circumstance which favors the latter hypothesis. Similar
small circles occur within or in the immediate vicinity of several
other large works.


Four miles above the city of Chillicothe, on the east bank of the
Scioto river, is situated the singular group of works figured in
the Plate. They are found upon the third “bottom” or terrace, just
at the base of an elevated plain, upon which, five hundred paces
distant, and to the right of the main works, the minor group B is
situated. They consist of a rectangle, with an attached circle, the
latter extending into the former, instead of being connected with it
in the usual manner. The rectangle measures nine hundred and fifty
by nine hundred feet, and the circle is ten hundred and fifty feet
in diameter. The centre of the circle is somewhat to the right of
a line drawn through the centre of the rectangle, parallel to its
longest sides. The exterior gateways are twelve in number, and have
an average width of about twenty-five feet. The chord of that part
of the circle interior to the rectangle is five hundred and thirty
feet. On the east side are two circles, measuring two hundred, and
two hundred and fifty feet in diameter respectively; one covering
a gateway, the other extending into, and opening within, the work.
About two hundred paces north of the great circle is another smaller
one, two hundred and fifty feet in diameter.

The walls of the rectangular work are composed of a clayey loam,
twelve feet high by fifty feet base, and are destitute of a ditch on
either side. They resemble the heavy grading of a railway, and are
broad enough, on the top, to admit the passage of a coach. The wall
of the great circle was never as high as that of the rectangle; yet,
although it has been much reduced of late years by the plough, it is
still about five feet in average height. It is also destitute of a
ditch. It is built of clay, which differs strikingly in respect of
color from the surrounding soil. The walls of the smaller circles are
about three feet in height, with interior ditches of corresponding

Parallel walls extend from the north-western corner of the rectangle,
towards the river to the south-west. They are twenty-four hundred
feet, or nearly half a mile [p052] long, and are placed one hundred
and fifty feet apart. They terminate at the edge of the terrace, at
the foot of which, it is evident, the river once had its course; but
between which and the present bed of the stream, a broad and fertile
“bottom” now intervenes. They are carried in a straight line, and
although very slight, (nowhere exceeding two and a half feet in
height,) are uninterrupted throughout. They do not connect directly
with the main work; at least, they are not traceable near it.

There is a dug hole, of considerable size, near the south-east angle
of the rectangular portion of the work, exterior to the walls. In
the bank of the table land, which approaches to within three or four
hundred feet of the walls, are several excavations, «d d d», from
which large quantities of earth have been taken, though much less,
apparently, than enters into the composition of the embankments.

There are no mounds of magnitude in connection with these works.
There are two slight elevations of an oval form, and also one or two
very small mounds, within the square, as shown in the plan. There is
a large group, however, on the opposite bank of the river, in the
direction pursued by the parallels above mentioned.

The truncated pyramid and accompanying circle, shown in the plan
of the “Cedar Bank Works,” (Plate XVIII,) are situated about
one-fourth of a mile to the north-east, upon the superior plain. The
coincidences between this circle and the small one C of the plan will
be observed at once. The feature of an inner wall or platform, of the
description here indicated, is of frequent occurrence. (See “«Newark
Works»,” Plate XXV.)

From the height and solidity of the walls, it might be inferred that
this was a work of defence. But its position, in respect to the
third terrace which commands it, strongly opposes that conclusion.
Still, this objection would not be insuperable, could we suppose
that the walls were palisaded; for, in such a case, the interior of
the work would be unassailable by any missiles known to barbarous
or half-civilized nations,—in fact, proof against anything except
artillery, and affording no mean protection against an assault of
that description.


This work is situated upon the table lands bordering the Scioto
river, at a point five miles above the town of Chillicothe, and
about a mile above the works last [p053] described. It consists
of a wall and outer ditch, which constitute three sides of a
parallelogram. The fourth side is protected by a natural bank or
bluff, seventy feet high, and so steep as to admit of no ascent,
except at one point where it has been gullied by the flow of water.

[Illustration: XVIII. Cedar-bank Works, Ross Co. Ohio.]

The walls of this work are about six feet high by forty feet base;
the ditch five feet deep by forty wide. The ditch upon the longer or
eastern side is formed, for two thirds of its length, by a “runway”
or water-course. It is here from eight to ten feet deep. The wall
upon this side is fourteen hundred feet long. The northern and
southern walls are each ten hundred and fifty feet in length, and
placed at right angles to the first; the southern extending to the
very edge of the bluff, the northern terminating within twenty-five
feet of it. It is possible that a fourth wall originally bounded the
enclosure on the west, which has been destroyed by the river, in
its encroachments. There are gateways, each sixty feet wide, at the
centres of the northern and southern sides. Covering the northern
gateway, and two hundred feet interior to it, is an elevated square,
two hundred and fifty feet long by one hundred and fifty broad, and
four feet high. It is ascended from the ends by graded ways, thirty
feet broad, and in all respects resembles the truncated pyramids or
“elevated squares” of the Marietta Works (Plate XXVI).

On the line of the southern embankment, and three hundred feet
distant from the main work, are singular parallel walls, eight
hundred and seventy feet long and seventy feet apart, connected
at the ends. These walls have no ditch, and have been partially
obliterated by the Chillicothe and Columbus turnpike, which passes
through them. In the timbered land, where they are undisturbed, they
are between two and three feet high.

[Illustration: Fig. 9.]

About one third of a mile south of the principal work, is a truncated
pyramid, and a small circle, Fig. 9: the former is one hundred and
twenty feet square at the base, and nine feet in height; the latter
is two hundred and fifty feet in diameter, and has an entrance from
the south, thirty feet wide. The sides of the pyramidal structure
correspond to the cardinal points. The circle has a ditch interior
to the embankment; and has also a broad embankment of about the
same height with the outer wall, interior to the ditch, upon the
side opposite the entrance. This feature, which is found in many of
the smaller circles, is illustrated by the plan, and by the section
«b a». This group is so disposed as to command a fine view of the
river terraces below it; and the headland upon which it is situated
seems to have been artificially smoothed and rounded. The spot is
well chosen. The “elevated square” has been excavated, but was found
to contain no remains. Upon the edge of the table land, both above
and below this peculiar group, there are various inconsiderable
remains, consisting of small, low terraces, and little mounds and

It is difficult to determine the character of this group of works.
The principal enclosure partakes of the nature of a defence; but the
broad gateways and the [p054] regular terrace embraced in the walls,
are features hardly consistent with the hypothesis of a military
origin. The long parallel lines, found in connection with this and
other works, are entirely inexplicable in their design and purposes.
The most plausible suggestion concerning them is, that they were
devoted to the celebration of certain games; they may, however, have
been connected with religious observances. It has been suggested that
the gully or “wash” towards the river was originally a graded way to
the water, and that its present irregularity has been occasioned by
the rains and storms of centuries.

It is a singular fact that there are no mounds of magnitude in
connection with these works. Upon the opposite side of the river,
however, there are a large number, as will be seen in the succeeding


This plate presents a very interesting group of works. They are
situated on the left bank of the Scioto river, four miles north
of the town of Chillicothe. The enclosure, designated, from the
great number of mounds within its walls, “«Mound City»,” is in many
respects the most remarkable in the Scioto valley. Through the
generous kindness of HENRY SHRIVER, Esq., upon whose estate it is
situated, the mounds were all permitted to be investigated; and the
work will, in consequence, be often referred to in the course of this
volume, particularly when we come to speak of “Mounds.”

In outline it is nearly square, with rounded angles, and consists of
a simple embankment, between three and four feet high, unaccompanied
by a ditch. Its site is the beautiful level of the second terrace,
and it is still covered with the primitive forest.

The first and most striking feature in connection with this work is
the unusual number of mounds which it contains. There are no less
than «twenty-four» within its walls. All of these, as above observed,
have been excavated, and the principal ones found to contain «altars»
and other remains, which put it beyond question that they were places
of «sacrifice», or of superstitious origin. [The evidence in support
of this conclusion will appear in a subsequent chapter on the mounds
and their purposes.]

[Illustration: XIX. Ancient Works, Ross County Ohio (three miles
north of Chillicothe).]

These mounds seem placed generally without design in respect to
each other, although there is a manifest dependence between those
composing the central group, and between those numbered 4 and 5, and
12 and 13. From the principal [p055] mound, numbered 7 in the
plan, after the fall of the leaves, a full view of every part of the
work and of its enclosed mounds is commanded. This mound is seventeen
feet high, with a broad base nearly one hundred feet in diameter. The
long mound, No. 3, is one hundred and forty feet long, by eighty wide
at the base, and ten feet in average height. Broad and deep pits,
from which the earth for the construction of the mounds was taken,
surround the work. The one occurring at the south-western angle, and
of which «a b» exhibits a vertical section, is at this time eighteen
feet deep, by one hundred and twenty feet in width, and over two
hundred feet in length. The accumulation of vegetable deposit at the
bottom is found, by excavation, to be not less than thirty inches,—a
fact which may assist in an approximate estimate of the age of this

The absence of an exterior ditch, as also the fact that the work is
commanded from a slightly elevated terrace half a bow-shot to the
left, seems sufficient to establish that it was not designed for
defence. The skill, which the illustrations of a previous chapter
convince us the mound-builders possessed in selecting and fortifying
their military positions, is in no degree displayed in this instance.
Taking in view also the character and purposes of the mounds as
disclosed by excavation, we are certainly well warranted in classing
this as a sacred work.

The custom of enclosing the Adoratorios or Teocallis, upon which
their sacrifices and religious rites generally were practised, was
universal among the Mexicans. The open temples of the ancient Britons
were embraced within parapets of earth, usually, if not always,
circular in form. The “tabooed” grounds or sacred places of the
Pacific Islanders, are also surrounded, if not by earthen, by stone
walls or by palisades.

One fourth of a mile to the north-west of this work is a small circle
two hundred and fifty feet in diameter, accompanied by two large

About the same distance to the south is another work of somewhat
similar outline, but of larger size. It is, moreover, surrounded by
a ditch. Its position, in respect to “Mound City,” requires that
it should be noticed here. The plan and sections will convey a
sufficiently accurate idea of its form and construction. Unlike the
works obviously of sacred origin, which, if they possess a ditch
at all, have it interior to the wall, this has an outer fosse; a
circumstance which would seem to favor the suggestion of a defensive
origin. On the other hand, it has a mound, very nearly if not exactly
in its centre, which was clearly a place of sacrifice. It was found,
upon excavation, to contain an altar singularly constructed of small
stones, carefully imbedded in sand, forming a paved concavity,
upon which were the usual traces of fire, and the remains of the
sacrifice. This mound will be minutely noticed elsewhere. [p056]

 PLATE XX.[41]

This work is a very fair type of a singular series occurring in the
Scioto valley,—all of which have the same figures in combination,
although occupying different positions with respect to each other,
viz. a square and two circles. These figures are not only accurate
squares and perfect circles, but are in most cases of corresponding
dimensions,—that is to say, the sides of each of the squares are each
ten hundred and eighty feet in length; and the diameter of each of
the large and small circles, a fraction over seventeen hundred and
eight hundred feet, respectively. Such were the results of surveys
made at different times, the measurements of which correspond within
a few feet. Although in the progress of investigation singular
coincidences were observed between these works, yet there was at the
time no suspicion of the identity which subsequent comparison has
shown to exist.

The first of the series here represented, is situated on the east
bank of the Scioto river, and occupies the third bottom or terrace.
The ground upon which it occurs is level. The walls of the entire
work are unaccompanied by a ditch, and are slight, nowhere more than
four feet in height. The embankment of the square is perceptibly
heavier than that of the small circle, which is also heavier than
that of the larger one. The square work measures ten hundred and
eighty feet upon each side; and its walls are interrupted at the
corners and at the middle of each side, by gateways thirty feet in
width. The central gateways are each covered by a small mound, of
about the same height with the embankment, and placed forty feet
interior to it. The manner in which the circular works are connected
with the square enclosure, and the relative position of each, are
accurately shown in the plan, precluding the necessity of a long and
intricate description. It will be observed, that while the wall of
the larger circle is interrupted by numerous narrow gateways, that
of the smaller one is entire throughout,—a feature for which it is,
of course, impossible to assign a reason. Besides the small mounds
at the gateways, there are three others within the work, two of
which are inconsiderable, while the other is of the largest size,
being one hundred and sixty feet long, by not far from twenty feet
high. A section of this mound is given, illustrative of a detailed
description, in a subsequent chapter. There are also a few other
mounds outside of the walls, reference to which is had elsewhere.
Numerous dug holes occur in the vicinity of the great mound. Most
of these are interior to the work,—a very unusual circumstance. In
fact, the whole work appears to have been but partially finished, or
constructed in great haste. The mounds at the gateways, and those
outside of [p057] the walls, were formed by carelessly scooping
up the earth at their base, leaving irregular pits near them. In most
of the regular works, the material seems to have been taken up evenly
and with care, or brought from a distance.

[Illustration: XX. Ancient Work, Liberty Township, Ross Co. Ohio.
(eight miles S. E. of Chillicothe).]

[Illustration: XXI. Ancient Works, Ross Co. Ohio.]

No one would be apt to ascribe a defensive origin to this work, yet
it is difficult to conceive for what other purpose a structure of
such dimensions, embracing nearly one hundred acres, could have been
designed. The great mound is anomalous in its character, and throws
no light on the question. That there is some hidden significance, in
the first place in the regularity, and secondly in the arrangement of
the various parts, can hardly be doubted. Nor can the coincidences
observable between this and the other succeeding works of the same
series be wholly accidental.[42]

 PLATE XXI. No. 1.[43]

This work is situated on the right bank of Paint creek, fourteen
miles distant from Chillicothe. It is but another combination of the
figures composing the work belonging to this series, just described;
from which, in structure, it differs in no material respect, except
that the walls are higher and heavier. It is one of the best
preserved works in the valley; the only portion which is much injured
being [p058] at that part of the great circle next the hill, where
the flow of water has obliterated the wall for some distance. The
gateways of the square are considerably wider than those of the other
works,—being nearly seventy feet across. A large, square, truncated
mound occurs at some distance to the north of this work. It is one
hundred and twenty feet broad at the base, has an area fifty feet
square on the top, and is fifteen feet high. Quantities of coarse,
broken pottery are found on and around it. A deep pit, or dug hole,
is near, denoting the spot whence the earth composing the mound was

 PLATE XXI. No. 2.[44]

Five miles above the work last described, at “the crossings of Paint
creek,” and on the opposite bank of the stream, occurs an equally
singular and interesting work, situated upon the estate of JOHN
WOODBRIDGE, Esq., of Chillicothe. The ground is here considerably
broken, yet the work preserves its regularity throughout, although
evidently constructed with some regard to the nature of the position.
The square occupies the second terrace; while the main body of the
work is placed upon the third, as shown in the plan.

Within the larger circle, and not far from its centre, is a large
elliptical mound, two hundred and forty feet long by one hundred and
sixty broad, and thirty in height. It is considerably larger than
any other single mound in the valley, and covers a little more than
two thirds of an acre. It seems to be composed, at least towards the
surface, of stones and pebbles,—a feature peculiar to a certain class
of mounds, of a highly interesting character. It is surrounded by a
low, indistinct embankment, the space between which and the mound
seems to have been raised by the wasting of the latter. Perhaps this
was a low terrace. To the right of this fine mound is a group of
three others in combination, as shown in the plan at «c». There are
several other small mounds in and around the work. Several very large
and beautiful ones, composed entirely of clay, occur about one fourth
of a mile distant, in the direction indicated in the plan.

The entire work is surrounded by deep pits or excavations, usually
called “wells,” from which the materials for the mounds and
embankments were procured. So numerous are these, and such serious
obstacles are the mounds and embankments to cultivation, that a
deduction of several acres is allowed to the tenant in consequence,
by the lease of the estate upon which they occur.

The small circle at «a» is two hundred and fifty feet in diameter.
It has been so much reduced by the plough as to be traced with
difficulty.[45] [p059]

Although the square enclosure connected with this work is situated
on the second terrace, a portion of it, at periods of great freshets,
is invaded by the water, which passes through a shallow thoroughfare
indicated on the map. This singular circumstance is easily accounted
for. The creek in its course strikes the base of a high hill at B,
composed of shale, which readily undermines, occasioning great slips
or slides. These fill the channel of the creek, damming it up and
forcing it out of its usual course. It was probably at the period of
one of these slides, that the creek, in its reaction on the opposite
shore, broke through the embankment and formed the thoroughfare,
or dry channel, above mentioned. The remark, therefore, that the
earthworks of the West never occur upon the first, or latest-formed
terrace, and are always above high-water mark, is not at all
invalidated by this circumstance.

 PLATE XXI. No. 3.[46]

This work very closely resembles the one last described. It is
situated on the Scioto river, about one mile south of the town of
Chillicothe. Near it was erected the first civilized habitation in
the valley, and the ground has been in cultivation for more than
forty years. As a consequence, the walls are much reduced, although
distinctly traceable at this time. A portion of the square has been
destroyed by the invasion of the river. The large circle has also
been encroached upon at some period, if indeed it was ever completed.
It extends to the terrace bank, which is here twelve or fifteen feet
high. The low bottom, at the base of the terrace, was evidently at
one time the bed of Paint creek, which has since changed its channel,
and now runs more than a mile to the south-west, entering the river
three or four miles below this point. If the encroachment upon the
work was made by this stream, the fact would certainly assign to it a
very high antiquity. There are no mounds in the immediate vicinity of
this work, although there are several in the direction indicated in
the plan, about one fourth of a mile distant, upon the corresponding
terrace A. There is also an extensive and intricate series of works
in the direction of Chillicothe, a portion of which once occupied the
site of the city.[47]

One of the mounds at A is placed upon a singular ridge, some forty
or fifty feet in height, which has resisted the encroachments of the
water, and which itself somewhat resembles an artificial structure.
This elevation commands the entire plain. There are several mounds
at its base, one of which is of considerable size. All have been
excavated: the larger one was found to be sepulchral in its
character; the others are anomalous. [p060]

This work is sixteen miles distant from the one last described, and
is situated on the left bank of the North fork of Paint creek. A
portion of it is included in the town limits of Frankfort, better
known as “Oldtown,” or “Old Chillicothe.”[48]

The combination of the great circle and the square, in this work,
is identical with that which exists in the celebrated Circleville
work,—which work, it may be observed, is no more remarkable than
numbers of others, and owes its celebrity entirely to the fact, that
it has been several times described with some minuteness.

[Illustration: Fig. 10.]

A reduced plan of the Circleville work, Fig. 10, is herewith
presented, which will sufficiently illustrate this remark. Its
dimensions were considerably less than those of the analogous
structures already described. The sides of the square measured not
far from nine hundred feet in length, and the diameter of the circle
was a little more than one thousand feet. The work was peculiar in
having a double embankment constituting the circle. It is now almost
entirely destroyed, and its features are no longer traceable.[49]

The walls of the rectangular portion of the Frankfort work, where
not obliterated by the improvements of the town, are still several
feet high. They were, within the recollection of many people, much
higher. They are composed of clay (while the embankment of the circle
is composed of gravel and loam), which, as in the case of the square
work described, Plate X, appears to have been very much burned.

The isolated mound near the upper boundary of the circle is composed
entirely of clay, and is twelve feet high; the others are of gravel,
the largest being no less than twenty feet in altitude. Various dug
holes or pits, from which the material for the embankments and mounds
was evidently taken, are indicated in the plan. Some of them are, at
this time, fifteen or twenty feet deep. The subsoil at this locality,
as shown by excavation, is clay. If there was no design, therefore,
in constructing the walls of the square of that material, it follows
that it was built last, and after the loam and gravel had been
removed from the pits.

[Illustration: XXII.

No. 1. Blackwater Group. Ross Co. Ohio.

No. 2. Junction Group, Ross Co. Ohio.]

A portion of the large circle has been encroached upon and destroyed
by the [p061] creek, which has since receded something over a
fifth of a mile, leaving a low rich bottom intervening.

Such are the predominant features of this remarkable series of
works. As already remarked, the coincidences observable between them
could not have been the result of accident, and it is very manifest
that they were erected for common purposes. What those purposes
were, the reader must judge. Without entering into an argument upon
the subject, we may content ourselves with the simple expression
of opinion, that they were in some manner connected with the
superstitions of the builders.

There is one deduction to be drawn from the fact, that the figures
entering into these works are of uniform dimensions, which is of
considerable importance in its bearing upon the state of knowledge
among the people who erected them. It is that «the builders possessed
a standard of measurement, and had some means of determining angles».
The most skilful engineer of the day would find it difficult, without
the aid of instruments, to lay down an accurate square of the great
dimensions of those above represented, measuring as they do more
than «four fifths» of a mile in circumference. It would not, it
is true, be impossible to construct circles of considerable size,
without instruments; the difficulty of doing so, when we come to the
construction of works five thousand four hundred feet, or «over a
mile» in circumference, is nevertheless apparent. But we not only
find accurate squares and perfect circles, but also, as we have seen,
«octagons» of great dimensions. Other evidences tending to sustain
the above conclusions will be adduced in the progress of this work.

 PLATE XXII. No. 1.[50]

The singular group of works here represented is situated on Paint
creek, two miles south-west of the town of Chillicothe. It consists
of four circles, three crescents, two square works, and four mounds.
The eastern enclosure is the principal one; and, in common with all
the rest, consists of a wall three feet high, with an interior ditch.
It is two hundred and forty feet square, the angles much curved,
giving it very nearly the form of a circle. The area, bounded by the
ditch, is an accurate square of one hundred and sixty feet side, and
is entered from the south by a gateway twenty-five feet wide. To the
south-west of this work, and one hundred and thirty feet distant, is
a small mound enclosed by a ditch and wall, with [p062] a gateway
opening to it from the north. The ditch dips from the base of the
mound, which is but three feet high by thirty feet base. Almost
touching the circle enclosing the mound, is the horn of a crescent
work, having a chord of one hundred and thirty-two feet. Sixty-six
feet distant, in the same direction, is still another crescent, which
terminates in a mound of sacrifice, seven feet high by forty-five
feet base, which commands the entire group of works. This mound was
carefully opened in October, 1845. The following passages, from the
notes taken on the occasion, may not be out of place here. They will
prove more intelligible to the reader, after an examination of the
chapters on «Mounds».

The mound is composed of clay. A simple shaft was sunk from the
apex, five feet square. About three feet below the surface, upon the
northern side of the excavation, was found a layer of wood coals,
three or four inches in thickness, which extended within range of
the excavation perhaps a foot, where it was broken up and intermixed
with the clay composing the mound; some fragments were found within
a few inches of the surface. From this fact it was inferred that the
mound had been disturbed since its erection,—with what correctness
will be seen in the sequel. In this layer of charcoal was found a
human skeleton, much decayed, the skull and jaws crushed. Proceeding
downwards, the earth below the unbroken charcoal was homogeneous,
while towards the centre of the mound it was intermixed with detached
coals. About seven feet beneath the surface of the mound, and
probably a little below the surface of the adjacent plain, and in the
centre of the excavation, were found three skeletons, in a very good
state of preservation. The earth above them was mingled with coals,
and also with fragments of hard-burned clay, which were immediately
recognised as portions of the “altar” peculiar to a certain class of
mounds devoted to religious purposes. It was clear that the mound
had been opened, and its structure broken up, to afford the rite of
sepulture to the skeletons here found; and it was concluded from
this fact, as well as from their well-preserved condition, that
the remains were those of the later Indians, who frequently buried
in the mounds. The skeletons were placed side by side, with their
heads towards the east. But one circumstance weighs against the
above conclusion, and that is the depth at which the skeletons were
deposited. The modern Indians bury in shallow graves.

Further examination disclosed the remains of the altar, about one
third of which remained entire. Upon it were found a number of
relics, clearly pertaining to the mound-builders.

The character of the remaining works is sufficiently apparent,
without further explanation. That they were not designed for defence
is obvious, and that they were devoted to religious rites is more
than probable. They may have answered a double purpose, and may
have been used for the celebration of games, of which we can have
no definite conception. It has been suggested that the enclosure
A, as also B and C, were occupied by structures, temples perhaps,
which in the lapse of time have disappeared. Similar groups are
frequent,—indeed, small circles, resembling those here represented,
constitute, in the Scioto valley, by far the most numerous class
of remains. They seldom occur singly, but generally in connection
with several others of the same description, and accompanied by one
or more [p063] mounds; sometimes they are connected with long
parallel lines of embankments, of which more particular mention is
elsewhere made.

[Illustration: XXIII.

No. 1. Dunlap’s Works, Ross Co. Ohio.

No. 2. Ancient Works, Athens Co. Ohio.]

This group occupies a beautiful plain forming the third terrace,
upon the edge of which, at D, is a mound, formerly of considerable
dimensions, but now much reduced in altitude. Upon the opposite bank
of the creek, and occupying the corresponding terrace, are other
works, consisting of a small circle and a number of small mounds.


This group, which very much resembles that last described, is
situated on the right bank of the Scioto river, eight miles above
Chillicothe, near the Columbus road. It is specially remarkable for
its singular parallels, A and B of the plan. Each of these is seven
hundred and fifty feet long by sixty broad, measuring from centre to
centre of the embankments. They are in cleared ground, which has been
cultivated for more than twenty years; consequently the walls are
much reduced, being now scarcely two feet in height. A gateway opens
into the southern parallel, from the east. A corresponding opening
may have existed in the other parallel, though it is impossible to
discern it now. The ground embraced in the semi-circular works C
and D is reduced several feet below the level of the plain on which
they are located. The mounds belonging to this group have never been
investigated; hence their character is undetermined. The group is
introduced in this connection, on account of its resemblance to the
one just described. It is just to conclude that both were erected for
a common or analogous purpose.

 PLATE XXIII. No. 1.[51]

This work, situated on the right bank of the Scioto river, six
miles above Chillicothe, presents some remarkable features. It is
rhomboidal in figure, with an avenue eleven hundred and thirty feet
long extending to the south-east, and also a [p064] short avenue,
leading from a gateway to the north, connecting with a small circle.
Along the western wall runs the bank of a plain, elevated a number
of feet above the level of the work, upon the very brow of which is
situated an outwork (A) eighty feet wide by two hundred and eighty
in length. It overlooks the larger work, and has a wide gateway
opening towards it. At this point the bank seems to have been graded
to a more gentle descent. The great avenue approaches to within
sixty feet of the gateway at «a», which is one hundred and twenty
feet wide; the walls closing, at the other extremity, upon a radius
of half the width of the avenue. A low mound occupies the extreme
point of the avenue. At some distance south of the main work, is a
mound surrounded by a ditch and low embankment; and at the distance
of about half a mile, very nearly in the course of the avenue, are a
number of mounds,—one of which is fifteen feet high, truncated, and
with a base of one hundred feet diameter. The diameter of the level
area on the top is about fifty feet. These mounds stand on the lowest
portion of the second terrace; the ground which they occupy being
overflowed at periods of very high water in the river. These are the
only monuments known which are reached by overflows. The top of the
truncated mound was made a place of refuge, during the high water of
1832, by a family, with their cattle, horses, etc., numbering in all
nearly a hundred. It was among the first opened, in the progress of
these investigations, and before the characteristics of this class
of works were clearly known. Hence, although a number of skeletons
were disinterred, at depths of from two to five feet, together with
a few rude instruments, the original deposit of the mound-builders
was not reached. The skeletons were unquestionably those of the
modern Indians. Upon the mound and around it, many fragments of rough
pottery are found, and a number of entire vases of rude workmanship
were exposed a few years since in ploughing over an adjacent small
mound. Many decayed fresh-water shells are also found on and around
the mound; and, as these when pulverized entered into the composition
of the rude pottery of the more recent Indians, it seems highly
probable that a sort of manufactory of this ware was established
here. A number of large mounds also occur at some distance to the
northward of the principal work.


Four miles north of the town of Athens, Athens county, Ohio, is
a broad and level plain, upon which is situated a large group of
ancient earthworks. The accompanying plan and description were
furnished by S. P. HILDRETH, M. D., of Marietta, Ohio.[52] [p065]

“The plain upon which these remains occur is not far from a mile and
a half long, by a mile and a quarter broad, and contains upwards of
one thousand acres. The soil is a sandy argillaceous earth, easily
tilled and quite fertile. At the northern extremity of the plain is
the village of Chauncey, where are located several salt factories,
which are supplied by some of the most abundant saline waters in
the State of Ohio. The plain has an elevation of sixty or seventy
feet above the present bed of the Hocking river, and was evidently
formed when its waters flowed at a higher level. This stream now runs
from half a mile to a mile to the eastward of the plain, separated
from it by low hills. All around the margin of the plain, where not
bordered by hills, burst forth copious springs of fresh water, which
are most abundant in the vicinity of the principal ancient works.
Most of these works occupy the south-eastern portion of the plain.
They consist of a number of small circles, accompanied by mounds,
the several dimensions of which are given in the accompanying plan.
The largest circle is situated upon a detached point of land, of the
same level with the adjacent plain, from which it is cut off by a
deep ravine, in which flows a small stream. This detached portion
contains not far from six acres. The circle itself has a diameter of
two hundred and ten feet; the diameter of the enclosed area is one
hundred and thirty feet; the height of the wall is «seven» feet, and
the depth of the ditch «six» feet. In all of these circles, the ditch
is interior to the embankment.

“On the top of a hill, half a mile to the south of this plain, is
a stone mound fifteen feet in height. It is built of stones of
various sizes, none of which, however, are larger than one man could
conveniently carry. They must have been collected from considerable
distances, as there are very few lying upon the surface of the
adjacent hills. Many of them are water-worn, and evidently came from
the bed of some stream: some are limestone, some sandstone, and
others quartz. About twenty years since a partial excavation was
made, and the mound penetrated to about half its depth. Here were
found three human skeletons, in tolerable preservation. From the
appearance of ashes and charcoal beneath them, it was conjectured
that the bodies had been burned. One of the skeletons had copper
bracelets on its arms, and beads made of the tusks of the bear about
its neck. These relics are now deposited in the Museum of the Ohio
University, at Athens.”

It has been suggested, that the work situated upon the detached
portion of the plain above mentioned was designed for defence. There
is nothing to favor the suggestion, except the fact of position,
which is far from conclusive. On the other hand, the small size of
the work, its form, and the occurrence of the ditch «interior» to
the wall, may be taken to establish a different origin,—probably a
religious one. [p066]


The plan so fully illustrates the character of this group of works,
that little description is necessary. It consists principally of the
constantly recurring figures, the square and the circle; the former
measuring in this instance a little upwards of eight hundred feet
upon each side, the latter ten hundred and fifty feet in diameter.
They are connected by parallel walls, four hundred and seventy-five
feet long, placed one hundred feet apart. These are intersected by
a runway, which has here cut a passage in the terrace one hundred
and twenty-five feet wide, by fifteen deep. This gully or ravine was
undoubtedly in existence at the period of the construction of the
works. The banks between the parallels appear to have an offset, as
if they had been artificially graded; no further indications of a
grade now exist.

The small works, in connection with the above, will attract special
attention. The plan illustrates their forms, and the sections exhibit
their dimensions. Nothing can surpass the symmetry of the small
work A, of which an enlarged plan is herewith given, Fig. 11; B and
C are also perfect figures of their kind. It will be remarked that
we have here the square, the circle, and the ellipse, separate and
in combination,—all of them constructed with geometric accuracy.
The work D consists of a small circle, from which leads off a wall,
extending along the brow of the terrace bank, until the latter turns,
nearly at right angles, towards the north. It would seem that this
line of embankment was constructed with specific reference to this
natural feature. The fact, however, that a small circle, in the
immediate vicinity, has been partially destroyed by the wasting of
the bank, shows that it has receded since the construction of the
works. The river now runs at a distance, although it is evident that
it once washed the base of the terrace at this point. Its ancient bed
is distinctly to be seen.

[Illustration: Fig. 11.]

The walls of the square coincide very nearly with the cardinal
points of the compass, varying therefrom but three degrees. This is,
however, an accidental coincidence; as all the ancient works seem to
have been made to conform to the position of the ground which they
occupy. There is no evidence that any regard was had to the points
of the compass, except that the gateways or openings of the small
circles are oftenest towards the east.

[Illustration: XXIV. Ancient Work, Seal Township, Pike Co. Ohio.]

[Illustration: XXV. Newark Works, Licking Co. Ohio.]

About one mile to the northward of this group is the unique work
shown in the [p067] supplementary plan N. Its walls are about
four feet high, and its outlines beautifully distinct.[53]

It is impossible to resist the conviction that some significance
attaches to these singular forms.


The very extensive and complicated series of works here presented
occur at the junction of the South and Raccoon forks of Licking
river, one mile west of the town of Newark, Licking county, Ohio.
Like those at Marietta, the works in question occupy a high fertile
plain. This plain is here of great extent, and elevated from thirty
to fifty feet above the alluvions bordering the streams: it is for
the most part level, but in places broken and undulating.

These works are so complicated, that it is impossible to give
anything like a comprehensible description of them. The plan, with
the illustrative supplementary plans and sections, will furnish a
better conception, as a whole and in detail, than could be afforded
in any other way. It will be the object of the text to supply such
information as cannot be obtained from the plan.

The group covers an extent of about two miles square, and consists,
as will be observed, of three grand divisions, connected by parallels
and works of a minor character. The walls of the parallels, and of
the irregular portions of the works generally, as well as of the
small circles, (of which there are a considerable number,) are very
slight; for the most part not exceeding four feet in height. [p068]
The embankments of the principal, or regular portions of the works,
are much heavier. Those of the larger circular work, E, are about
twelve feet in perpendicular height by fifty feet base, and have an
interior ditch seven feet deep by thirty-five wide. At the gateway or
entrance, the walls are much higher than at any other point, being
not less than «sixteen feet» in altitude, with a ditch «thirteen
feet» deep, giving an absolute height of about «thirty feet» from
the bottom of the ditch to the top of the embankment. The wall of
the lesser circle, F, is six feet in height, and is unaccompanied by
a ditch. The walls of the octagonal, as well as of the square work,
are but five and a half feet high, and are also destitute of ditches,
either exterior or interior.

[Illustration: Fig. 12.]

The circular structure E is undoubtedly one of the best preserved and
most imposing in the State. There are many enclosing larger areas,
but none more clearly defined. At the entrance, which is towards
the east, the ends of the walls curve outwards, for the distance
of a hundred feet, leaving a passageway eighty feet wide, between
the deep ditches on either hand. Here, covered with the gigantic
trees of a primitive forest, the work presents a truly grand and
impressive appearance; and, in entering the ancient avenue for the
first time, the visitor does not fail to experience a sensation of
awe, such as he might feel in passing the portals of an Egyptian
temple, or in gazing upon the silent ruins of Petra of the desert.
This work is not, as has been generally represented, a true circle;
its form is that of an ellipse, its diameters being twelve hundred
and fifty feet, and eleven hundred and fifty feet respectively. There
are two or three slight irregularities in the outline, too trifling
however to be indicated in the plan. The area of the enclosure is
something over thirty acres. It is an almost perfect level, and is
still covered with the original forest. Immediately in the centre of
the area is a mound of singular shape, of which an enlarged plan,
Fig. 12, is here given. It much resembles some of the “animal-shaped
mounds” of Wisconsin, and was probably designed to represent a bird
with expanded wings. It can hardly be called a mound, but is rather a
group of four, so arranged and connected as to constitute an unbroken
outline. Denominating the figure, for the sake of distinction, «a
bird», the dimensions are as follows: Length of body, one hundred and
fifty-five feet; of each wing, one hundred and ten feet; between the
tips of the wings, measuring in a right line, two hundred feet; width
of body, sixty-three feet; of wings, in centre, forty-five feet;
of same, next the body, forty feet; height of mounds composing the
body, seven feet; of mounds composing the wings, five feet. The head
of the bird points directly towards the entrance of the enclosure.
The bearing of the body is S. 65° E. Immediately in the rear of the
effigy, and one hundred feet distant, is a semi-circular embankment,
about two hundred feet in length; it is but slightly elevated, and
can hardly be traced; it is nevertheless exhibited in the plan. The
long mound, constituting the body of the bird, has been opened.
Upon examining the excavation, it was found that the structure had
originally contained an «altar»: whether any relics were found upon
it, is unknown. This feature, in conjunction with others, seems
[p069] to point out a religious or superstitious design to this
individual structure, if not to the whole group of works with which
it is connected.


[Illustration: Fig. 14.]

[Illustration: Fig. 15.]

Passing over the intermediate intricate works, of which it would
be futile to attempt a description, we come to the octagon and its
dependencies. The angles of this octagon, it will be observed, are
not coincident, although its sides are very nearly equal. At each
of the angles is a gateway, which is covered upon the interior by
a small, truncated pyramidal elevation, (Fig. 14,) five feet in
height, and measuring eighty by one hundred feet at the base. These
are placed about sixty feet interior to the walls. The area of this
work, which is a rich and beautiful level, is something over fifty
acres. Connected with the octagon by parallels three hundred feet
long, and placed sixty feet apart, is the smaller circle F. Unlike
the other circular work, «this is a true circle», two thousand eight
hundred and eighty feet, or upwards of half a mile in circumference.
It encloses no mounds, but possesses a remarkable feature in the
line of the wall, at a point immediately opposite the entrance. This
consists of a crown work, (Fig. 15,) which is wholly unlike anything
heretofore noticed. It would almost seem that the builders had
originally determined to carry out parallel lines from this point;
but after proceeding one hundred feet, had suddenly changed their
minds and finished the enclosure, by throwing an immense mound across
the uncompleted parts. This mound, which may be taken as constituting
a part of the wall of the enclosure, is one hundred and seventy feet
long, eight feet higher than the general line of the embankment, and
overlooks the entire work. It has been called the “Observatory,”
from this fact: it probably had some other purpose than that of a
look-out, but what purpose, it is not undertaken to say. It has
been pretty thoroughly excavated, but the excavations seem to have
disclosed nothing, except an abundance of rough stones, which must
have been brought from the creek or some other remote locality, as
none are scattered over the remarkable plain upon which these works
are situated. [p070]


From the octagon lead off three lines of parallel walls: those
extending towards the south have been traced for nearly two miles,
and finally lose themselves in the plain; the remaining parallels
terminate as shown in the plan. They are upwards of a mile in length.
The walls composing these singular lines are placed about two hundred
feet apart, and are parallel throughout. A singular feature occurs in
the northern one, which is exhibited by the transverse section «g h».
For the space of a quarter of a mile, advantage is taken of a slight
natural ridge to construct between the walls a broad embankment,
something higher than the parallels themselves. It is broad enough
to permit fifty persons to walk abreast. A similar peculiarity is
observed in the short parallel leading from the square enclosure
towards the great circle E, and is exhibited by the section «i l».
A feature somewhat analogous occurs within the parallels extending
from the irregular works on the extreme right of the plan. This
parallel is carried down the bank of the third terrace, which is
here fifteen or twenty feet high. Within the lines, the bank is cut
down, and regularly graded to an easy ascent. The pathway or road,
for a portion of its extent upon the alluvions, is elevated above
the walls, as shown in longitudinal section «m n». A similar grade
is constructed at the extremity of the northern parallel, where the
natural bank is much higher than at any other point. Here the bank is
excavated inwardly, for upwards of one hundred and fifty feet; and
a portion of the earth is appropriated to form an elevated way over
the low swampy ground immediately at the foot of the terrace. These
excavations constitute quite imposing features, when viewed on the
spot, but are hardly distinguishable upon the plan.

A number of small circles are found connected with the works, and are
chiefly embraced in the area between the two principal parallels.
They are about eighty feet in diameter, without gateways opening into
them; and it has been suggested that they probably mark the sites of
ancient circular dwellings. The circles indicated by the letter G are
of much larger dimensions, and are characterized by ditches interior
to their walls. They each have a diameter of about two hundred
[p071] feet, and have elevated embankments constructed interior to
the ditch, as seen in the plan. This peculiarity has been already
remarked, in some of the works of the Scioto valley.

Upon the lower terraces, towards the point of junction between the
South and Raccoon forks, a great number of mounds of various sizes
are situated. Some are large, but for the most part they are small.
A small truncated pyramid once existed here, but the construction of
the Ohio canal, and the subsequent establishment of the village of
Lockport at this point, have obliterated this as well as numerous
other mounds. Indeed, these causes have resulted in the almost total
destruction of the singular maze of embankments, which communicates
directly with the square enclosure. The ancient lines can now be
traced only at intervals, among gardens and outhouses. At the period
when the original survey, upon which this plan is constructed, was
made, which is twelve years ago, the lines could all be made out. A
few years hence, the residents upon the spot will be compelled to
resort to this map, to ascertain the character of the works which
occupied the very ground upon which they stand.

Within the area partially enclosed by this series of works, was
formerly a large natural pond, covering upwards of one hundred
acres. It has been drained, so that the greater portion is under
cultivation. Previous to the earthquake of 1811, which resulted
in the destruction of New Madrid on the Mississippi, it is said
but little water was contained in the basin; after that event it
rose to the depth of ten feet, and retained that level until the
drainage took place. It has been suggested that it owed its origin to
artificial excavation; but it is incontestably natural, like several
other smaller depressions in the vicinity, which still contain water.
Excavations, denominated “wells,” from which the materials for the
construction of the wall were taken, are abundant in the neighborhood
of these works.

Several extraordinary coincidences are exhibited between the details
of these works and some of those already described. The smaller
circle F is nearly identical in size with that belonging to the
“Hopeton Works,” and with the one attached to the octagon, in the
“High Bank” group. (See Plates XVI and XVII.) The works last named
are situated upon the Scioto, seventy miles distant. The square has
also the same area with the rectangle belonging to the Hopeton, and
with the octagon attached to the High Bank Works. The octagon, too,
has the same area with the large, irregular square at Marietta. The
small circles G, G, G, betray a coincidence with those in connection
with the works above mentioned, which ought not to be overlooked. It
is not to be supposed that these numerous coincidences are the result
of accident.

It would be unprofitable to indulge in speculations as to the
probable origin and purposes of this group of works. That it could
not have been designed for defence, seems too obvious to admit of
doubt.[55] The reasons urged against the [p072] hypothesis of a
defensive origin in the Marietta works apply with double force here.
The structure which, from the height and solidity of its walls,
would seem best adapted for defence, has its ditch «interior» to
the embankment,—a blunder which no people possessing the skill and
judgment displayed in the defensive works of the mound-builders,
would be apt to commit.[56]

Hill works, incontestibly of a defensive origin, occur within four
or five miles of this group, the relative positions of which are
indicated by the “«Map of six miles of the Newark Valley».” About
four miles distant, and overlooking those works, is placed, upon the
summit of a high hill, a gigantic effigy of some animal, probably
the alligator. Of this remarkable structure a plan is presented on a
subsequent page. Around these works, in the valley and crowning the
hills bordering it, are numerous mounds, all of which, as compared
with those of the Scioto, are singularly broad and flat. Many of
them have been opened, but no account has been preserved of their
character. So far as could be ascertained from diligent inquiry,
they do not essentially differ in their contents from those found
elsewhere in the State. Fifteen or twenty miles to the northward of
these works, are others of an interesting character, which have never
been investigated, and of which no public notice has yet been taken.

[Illustration: XXVI. Marietta Works, Washington Co. Ohio.]


This remarkable group of works was among the earliest noticed by
Western explorers. It was described by Harte as early as 1791; and
a further account was presented in “Harris’s Tour,” published in
1805, in which an imperfect birds-eye view was also given. Since that
period various descriptions have appeared in print; and a number of
plans, differing materially in their details, have been published.
It is of so much importance, however, and has been the basis of so
much speculation, that it is time an «accurate» map and a careful
description should be placed before the public. Such a map and such a
description it is here aimed to present.

The works occupy the high, sandy plain, at the junction of the
Muskingum and Ohio rivers. This plain is from eighty to one hundred
feet above the bed of the river, and from forty to sixty above the
bottom lands of the Muskingum. Its outlines are shown on the map. It
is about three fourths of a mile long, by half a mile in width; is
bounded on the side next the hills by ravines, formed by streams,
and terminates on the side next the river in an abrupt bank, resting
upon the recent alluvions. The topography of the plain and adjacent
country is minutely represented on this map.

The works consist of two irregular squares, (one containing forty
acres area, the other about twenty acres,) in connection with a
graded or covered way and sundry mounds and truncated pyramids,
the relative positions of which are shown in the plan. The town
of Marietta is laid out over them; and, in the progress of
improvement, the walls have been considerably reduced and otherwise
much obliterated; yet the outlines of the entire works may still
be traced. The walls of the principal square, where they remain
undisturbed, are now between five and six feet high by twenty or
thirty feet base; those of the smaller enclosure are somewhat less.
The entrances or gateways at the sides of the latter are each covered
by a small mound placed interior to the embankment; at the corners
the gateways are in line with it. The larger work is destitute of
this feature, unless we class as such an interior crescent wall
covering the entrance at its southern angle. [p074]

[Illustration: Fig. 17.]

Within the larger enclosure are four elevated squares or truncated
pyramids of earth, which, from their resemblance to similar erections
in Mexico and Central America, merit a particular notice.[58] Three
of these have graded passages or avenues of ascent to their tops. The
principal one is marked A in the plan, and an engraving more clearly
illustrating its features is herewith presented, Fig. 17. It is one
hundred and eighty-eight feet long by one hundred and thirty-two
wide, and ten high. Midway upon each of its sides are graded ascents,
rendering easy the passage to its top. These grades are twenty-five
feet wide and sixty feet long. The next in size is marked B in the
plan, and is one hundred and fifty feet long by one hundred and
twenty wide, and eight feet high. It has three graded passages to
its top, viz. upon the north, west, and east. Those at the sides
are placed somewhat to the north of the centre of the elevation.
Upon the south side there is a recess or hollow way, instead of a
glacis, fifty feet long by twenty wide. This elevation is placed upon
an easy swell or ridge of land, and occupies the most conspicuous
position within the enclosure, every part of which is commanded
from its summit. A few feet distant from the northern glacis, is a
small conical mound, surrounded with shallow excavations, from which
the earth for its construction, and, perhaps, for the construction
in part of the pyramidal structure, was taken. To the right of the
elevation, and near the eastern angle of the enclosure, is a smaller
elevation one hundred and twenty feet long, fifty broad, and six feet
high. It had graded ascents at its ends, similar in all respects to
those just described. It is now much obliterated. Near the northern
angle of the work is another elevation, not distinctly marked. The
two larger squares are covered with a close turf, and still preserve
their symmetry. Indeed, no erections of earth alone could surpass
them in regularity. They are perfectly level on the top, except where
some uprooted tree has displaced the earth.

There is a passage or gateway one hundred and fifty feet wide, in
the middle of the left wall of this enclosure, on the side next the
Muskingum. Leading from it towards the river, and at right angles to
the embankment, is the “«Sacra Via»,” a «graded» or «covered way»
of singular construction. It is six hundred and eighty feet long by
one hundred and fifty wide between the banks, and consists of an
excavated passage descending regularly from the plain, upon which the
works just described are situated, to the alluvions of the river.
The earth, in part at least, is thrown outward upon either side,
forming embankments from eight to ten feet in height. The centre of
the excavated way is slightly raised and rounded, after the manner of
the paved streets of modern cities. The cross section «g h» exhibits
this feature. [p075] This section is constructed from measurements
taken at a point midway between the top and base of the grade.
Measured between the summits of the banks, the width of the way is
two hundred and thirty feet. At the base of the grade, the walls upon
the interior are twenty feet high. From this point there is a slight
descent, for the distance of several hundred feet, to the bank of the
river, which is here thirty-five or forty feet in height. It has been
conjectured by some, that the river flowed immediately at the foot
of this way at the time of its construction. This is, however, mere
conjecture, unsupported by evidence. If admitted, it would give to
this monument an antiquity greatly superior to that of the pyramids,
unless the deepening of our river channels has been infinitely
more rapid in times past, than at present. But one fact favors the
conjecture, and that is the entire absence of remains of antiquity
upon the beautiful terraces to which this graded passage leads. They
may nevertheless have been once as thickly populated as they now are;
and this passage may have been the grand avenue leading to the sacred
plain above, through which assemblies and processions passed, in the
solemn observances of a mysterious worship.

To the south of the smaller enclosure is a finely formed truncated
mound, (a view of which is given in a subsequent Plate,) thirty
feet high, and surrounded by a circular wall, constituting a
perfect ellipse, the transverse and conjugate diameters of which
are two hundred and thirty feet, and two hundred and fifteen feet
respectively.[59] This beautiful monument is now enclosed in the
public cemetery, and is carefully guarded from encroachment. A flight
of steps ascends to its summit, on which seats are disposed, and from
which a beautiful prospect is commanded.[60] In the vicinity occur
several fragmentary walls, as shown in the map. [p076]

Excavations, or “dug holes,” are observable at various points around
these works. Near the great mound are several of considerable size.
Those indicated by «m» and «n» in the plan have been regarded and
described as «wells». Their regularity and former depth are the
only reasons adduced in support of this belief. The circumstance
of regularity is not at all remarkable, and is a common feature in
excavations manifestly made for the purpose of procuring material
for the construction of mounds, etc. Their present depth is small,
though it is represented to have been formerly much greater. There
is some reason for believing that they were dug in order to procure
clay for the construction of pottery and for other purposes, inasmuch
as a very fine variety of that material occurs at this point, some
distance below the surface. The surface soil has recently been
removed, and the manufacture of bricks commenced. The “clay lining”
which has been mentioned as characterizing these “wells,” is easily
accounted for, by the fact that they are sunk in a clay bank!

Upon the opposite side of the Muskingum river are bold, precipitous
bluffs, several hundred feet in height. Along their brows are a
number of small stone mounds. They command an extensive view, and
overlook the entire plain upon which the works here described are

Such are the principal facts connected with these interesting
remains. The generally received opinion respecting them is, that they
were erected for defensive purposes. Such was the belief of the late
President HARRISON, who visited them in person, and whose opinion, in
matters of this kind, is entitled to great weight. The reasons for
this belief have never been presented, and they are not very obvious.
The number and width of the gateways, the absence of a fosse, as well
as the character of the enclosed and accompanying remains, present
strong objections to the hypothesis which ascribes to them a warlike
origin. And it may here be remarked, that the conjecture that the
Muskingum ran at the base of the graded way already described, at
the period of its erection, seems to have had its origin in the
assumption of a military design in the entire group. Under this
hypothesis, it was supposed that the way was designed to cover or
secure access to the river,—an object which it would certainly not
have required the construction of a passage-way one hundred and fifty
feet wide to effect. The elevated squares were never designed for
military purposes,—their very regularity of structure forbids the
conclusion. They were most likely erected as the sites for structures
which have long since passed away, or for the celebration of unknown
rites,—corresponding in short, in purpose as they do in form, with
those which they so much resemble in [p077] Mexico and Central
America. Do not these enclosed structures give us the clue to the
purposes of the works with which they are connected? As heretofore
remarked, the sacred grounds of almost every people are set apart or
designated by enclosures of some kind.

[Illustration: XXVII. Portsmouth Works, at the mouth of the Scioto

The absolute identity in size between the smaller enclosure, (which
varies a little from a true square,) and several of those which
occur in the Scioto valley, should not be overlooked, in any attempt
to educe the character and design of the group. That there is some
significance in the fact is obvious. (See Plates XVI and XVII.)
There are no other works in the immediate vicinity of Marietta. At
Parkersburgh, Virginia, on the Ohio, twelve miles below, there is an
enclosure of irregular form and considerable extent, a miniature plan
of which, from the MSS. of Prof. Rafinesque, is herewith presented,
Fig. 18. There are also some works at Belpre, opposite Parkersburgh.

[Illustration: Fig. 18.]

The valley of the Muskingum is for the most part narrow, affording
few of those broad, level, and fertile terraces, which appear to have
been the especial favorites of the race of mound-builders, and upon
which most of their monuments are found. As a consequence, we find
few remains of magnitude in that valley, until it assumes a different
aspect, in the vicinity of Zanesville, ninety miles from its mouth,
where the interesting remains figured in the preceding Plate are


The beautiful plain at the confluence of the Scioto and Ohio rivers,
where now the flourishing town of Portsmouth is located, forms the
site of a singular and interesting series of works. It has been
preferred to present them together, as they seem to be intimately
connected, leaving the reader to form his own conclusions respecting

The works consist of three divisions or groups, extending for eight
miles along the Ohio river, and are connected by parallel lines
of embankments. Two of these groups are on the Kentucky side of
the river; the remaining one, together with the larger portion of
the connecting embankment, on the Ohio shore. A reference to the
accompanying map, exhibiting a section of eight miles of the Ohio
valley, will show the relative positions and general plan, though not
the exact proportions of the series. The avenues or “covered ways,”
extending from one work to the other, have induced many persons to
assign them a military origin, and a design to protect communication
between the groups. But unless the work at A be regarded as a work
of defence, it is very certain that we must seek for some other
explanation of their purposes. These avenues constitute a [p078]
remarkable feature; and as enlarged plans and full descriptions
of the several groups follow, it may be well to notice them more
particularly here. It will be seen that from the central group B,
three lines lead off: one to the south-east, to a point on the Ohio,
nearly opposite to which, on the Kentucky side, it is resumed,
leading to the circular work C; another bears south-west, to a point
on the river, nearly opposite the large and regular work A. It does
not appear to be resumed on the other side of the river. A third
line runs north-west for a considerable distance, and loses itself
in the broken grounds towards the Scioto. It may have communicated
with other works in that direction, which have been obliterated
by time, or, which is most likely, were destroyed in the manifest
changes which the plain in that direction has undergone within a few

These lines consist of parallel embankments of earth, now measuring
about four feet in height, by twenty feet base. They are not far from
one hundred and sixty feet apart. The line leading towards the mouth
of the Scioto, however, at about midway of the distance, suddenly
contracts to seventy feet. It is said to have as suddenly widened
further on, enclosing a square area, with a gateway opening to the
north. The town of Portsmouth is built over this portion, and all
traces of the parallelogram and the walls have disappeared. Near the
point of contraction in this line are two or three mounds of medium

It is a fact to be observed in these as in similar lines at other
places, that they are not interrupted by the inequalities of the
ground, but conform to the undulations of the surface, running
sometimes at right angles to the terrace banks, and sometimes
diagonally up and down them. At some points these banks are very
steep,—so steep, indeed, that in clambering up them the explorer is
inclined to doubt that they were ever used or intended for purposes
of communication. The only interruptions are those caused by the
passage of streams, there being no gateways observable. The total
length of the parallels now traceable may be estimated at eight
miles, giving «sixteen miles» of embankment to the parallels alone.
If we include the walls of the entire series, we have a grand total
of upwards of «twenty» miles.

After this general view, the reader will be prepared to examine
the groups forming the series A, B, and C, in the order of their


The singular work, a plan of which is here given, occurs on the
Kentucky side of the Ohio river, opposite the old mouth of the
Scioto, about two miles below the town of Portsmouth. The terrace
on which it is situated is elevated some fifty feet above the first
bottom, and extends back to the hills, which at this point [p079]
are at some distance from the river. It is much cut up by ravines,
and is quite uneven.

[Illustration: XXVIII. Portsmouth Works.

No. 1. Group A.

No. 2. Group B.

No. 3. Group C.]

The main body of the work is situated upon a very beautiful level,
somewhat ascending to the east. The wings are on equally beautiful
levels, except that they are broken at two or three points by ravines.

The principal work is an exact rectangle, eight hundred feet square.
The walls are about twelve feet high, by thirty-five or forty feet
base, except on the east, where advantage is taken of the rise of
ground, so as to elevate them about fifty feet above the centre of
the area. This feature is exhibited in the section «a b».

The hollow way between the south-eastern wall and the terrace bank
beyond seems artificial,—at any rate, it has been modified by art.
The gateway on this side is entered by a slightly elevated causeway.
At the southern angle is a bastion, probably natural but adapted by
art, which commands the hollow way or ditch. The wall at this part
is distinctly marked, but not more than three feet high. On the
south-western side is a sort of runway, resembling a ditch, which
loses itself in a deep gully towards the river. It is undoubtedly
wholly or in part artificial. There are no traces of ditches
elsewhere about the work. A narrow gateway thirty feet wide opens in
the middle of each side, and at the northern and western angles, as
represented in the plan.

The most singular features of this structure are its outworks, which
consist of parallel walls leading to the north-east and south-west.
They are exactly parallel to the sides of the main work, and are
each two thousand one hundred feet long. Some measurements make them
of unequal lengths; but after a careful calculation of the space
occupied by the interrupting ravines, they are found to be very
nearly, not exactly, of the same length.

The parallel to the south-west has its outer wall in line with the
north-western wall of the main work, and starts at thirty feet
distance from the same. It is broken by a deep ravine near its
extremity, which is probably four or five hundred feet wide. Crossing
the ravine, the walls, traces of which are seen on the declivity,
continue to some distance, and then curve on a radius of one hundred
feet, leaving a narrow gateway eight feet wide in the centre.
Converging walls start from the point of curve, but lose themselves
after running three hundred feet, without meeting. Just beyond and a
little to the right, on the plain, are two clay mounds, also a small
circle one hundred feet in diameter, the walls of which are two feet

The parallel to the north-east starts from the centre (nearly) of the
main work, and is similar to the one already described, save that it
is not terminated by converging walls, and has no mounds beyond. It
is interrupted by two ravines, the walls running to their very edges.
The left wall of the parallel bends to a right angle as it approaches
the main work.

To the left of this parallel, four hundred and fifty feet from a
point eight hundred feet distant from the main work, on a high
peninsula or headland, is a singular redoubt, an enlarged view of
which is given in the supplementary plan N. To the left of it is
the bank of the second bottom, fifty feet high, and very steep. To
the right is the hollow of a small stream with steep banks. The
embankment of this work is heavy, and the ditch deep and wide, and
interior to the wall. From [p080] the bottom of the ditch to the top
of the wall, is perhaps twelve or fifteen feet. The enclosed oval
area is only sixty feet wide by one hundred and ten long. It has a
gateway to the north-east ten feet wide,—outside of which, in the
deep forest, is the grave of one of the first settlers. The object of
this enclosure it is difficult to divine. If a place of burial, as
has been suggested, properly conducted excavations would disclose the

A light wall of some hundred paces in extent runs from the left hand
entrance of the main work, along the verge of a declivity terminating
at the western angle. On this side are also three mounds, each about
six feet high,—formerly much higher, having been greatly reduced
by the plough. From the western angle a deep gully runs off to the
river; it has been mistaken by some for a covered way.

The entire main work, the greater part of the lower parallel, and a
portion of the upper one, are now in open cultivated grounds. The
walls of the main work are so steep as to preclude cultivation, and
now form the fence lines of the area, which is fifteen acres. The
area of the parallels is ten acres each;—total, thirty-five acres.

Between this work and the river are traces of a modern Indian
encampment or town,—shells, burned stones, fragments of rude pottery,
etc., also some graves. This was a favorite spot with the Indians,
for various reasons, one of which is its proximity to a noted saline
spring or deer lick, known as “McArthur’s Lick.”

From the size of the walls, their position, and other circumstances,
it has been supposed that this was a fortified place. If palisaded,
it would certainly be impregnable to any savage attack. If designed
as a sacred place, its sloping area would be most fit for the
observance of sacrifices or ceremonies.

What may have been the purpose of the mysterious parallels, is more
than we, at this period, can venture to say.


This group also occupies the third terrace, and, though not so
imposing in magnitude as the one just described, seems to be the
grand centre from which the parallel lines, characterizing this
series of works, radiate. Its details are intricate, and can
only be understood by the aid of the plan. The two crescent or
horse-shoe-shaped walls constitute the first striking feature which
presents itself. They are both of about the same size and shape,
measuring eighty feet in length by seventy in breadth. The earth
around them appears to have been considerably excavated. Enclosing
these in part is a circular wall now about five feet high. The
elevation to the right appears to be natural, although evidently
much modified by art. It is eighteen feet high at the end next the
principal division of the work, but gradually [p081] subsides into
a low ridge towards the enclosed mound «a b». A full view of the
entire group may be had from its summit. The mound just mentioned is
twenty-eight feet high, by one hundred and ten base; it is truncated
and surrounded by a low circumvallation. There are several small
circles, measuring from one hundred and fifty to two hundred and
fifty feet in diameter; also a few mounds, in the positions indicated
in the plan.

No one, after examining its details, would be apt to ascribe a
military origin to this group. The most reasonable conjecture
respecting it is, that it was in some way connected with the
superstitions of the builders; in what manner, of course, it is
impossible to determine. A thorough examination of the mounds might
throw some light on the question. At any rate, it is entirely unique
in many of its features, and furnishes an interesting study for the


This group is on the Kentucky shore, and principally occupies the
third terrace, or high level at the base of the hills bordering the
valley. The ground is here considerably broken. The northern portion
of the work is somewhat lower than the remainder, and a small brook
cuts through the outer wall on the south. This work is in many
respects novel, and for this reason, as well as from the connection
in which it is found, is entitled to an attention not otherwise
merited; for no person looking merely for what is striking from
position, or imposing from magnitude, would be apt to pay it a second
visit. It consists of four concentric circles, placed at irregular
intervals in respect to each other, and cut at right angles by four
broad avenues, which conform in bearing very nearly to the cardinal
points. A large mound is placed in the centre; it is truncated and
terraced, and has a graded way leading to its summit. A reference to
the plan and sections will exhibit in one view the dimensions and
general aspect of the work, obviating the necessity of a detailed

The mound in the centre, at first glance, would be taken for a
natural elevation; and it is possible that it is a detached spur of
a hill, modified and perhaps enlarged by art. A hillock in such a
position is, however, a circumstance of very rare occurrence. From
the level summit of this mound, a complete view of every part of
the surrounding work is commanded. Were it not for the obstructing
forests, it is believed the eye might obtain, from this position,
a view of the river and intermediate plain, as also of the works
beyond, and several miles distant. On the supposition that this work
was in some way connected with the religious rites and ceremonies of
the builders, this mound must have afforded a most conspicuous place
for their observance and celebration. And it is easy, while standing
on its [p082] summit, to people it with the strange priesthood of
ancient superstition, and fill its avenues and line its walls with
the thronging devotees of a mysterious worship. Whatever may have
been the divinity of their belief, order, symmetry, and design were
among his attributes; if, as appears most likely, the works that most
strongly exhibit these features were dedicated to religious purposes,
and were symbolical in their design.

About one mile to the west of this work are a number of mounds, some
of considerable size, and also a small circular work, D, of exquisite
symmetry and proportion. It consists of an embankment of earth five
feet high by thirty feet base, with an interior ditch twenty-five
feet across by six feet deep, enclosing an area ninety feet in
diameter, in the centre of which rises a mound eight feet high by
forty feet base. A narrow gateway through the parapet, and a causeway
over the ditch, lead to the enclosed mound.


The above view, taken on the spot, will illustrate the appearance of
this class of works. Nothing can exceed their regularity and beauty,
when clothed with turf or covered with forest trees.


These works are situated on the east bank of the Great Miami river,
six miles below Dayton, Montgomery county, Ohio. They are built upon
the second bottom or terrace, which is here nearly a mile broad,
and elevated about twenty feet above the river. The plan of the
group coincides very nearly with that of some of the [p083] more
regular works of the Scioto valley. (See Plates XX and XXI.) It seems
never to have been completed; at any rate, the various parts were
never connected. A portion of the great circle A has been washed
away by the river, which here encroaches upon the second terrace.
The diameter of this circle is one hundred feet greater than that
of the corresponding large circle of the Scioto works; and the same
proportionate increase in size is to be observed in the square and
lower circle. The embankments are now between five and six feet high,
and have a base fifty feet wide. They are composed of a tough, yellow
clay, which is found to be superimposed on the loam of the original
level. It must have been brought from a distance, as there are no
excavations perceptible in the vicinity. The embankments, as in the
case of several other works which have been noticed, appear to have
been some time or other subjected to the action of fire. They are
unaccompanied by a ditch.

[Illustration: XXIX.

No. 1. Ancient Works six miles below Dayton, Montgomery Co. Ohio.

No. 2. Ancient Work and Animal Effigy, Scioto Co. Ohio.

No. 3. Ancient Works near Worthington, Franklin Co., Ohio.]

The Miami canal extends through these works, and the little town of
Alexandersville is laid out over a portion of the smaller circle. The
clay composing the embankments is now much used in the manufacture
of bricks, and but a little time will elapse before the work will be
entirely obliterated.

We can only regard this structure as kindred in its purposes to those
above alluded to in the Scioto valley, and associate it with the
superstitions of the builders. It tends to confirm the impression
produced by the other works, that some significance attaches to the
combination of the two circles and the square.


This singular work is situated five miles north of Portsmouth, Scioto
county, Ohio, on the west bank of the Scioto river. It is not a
true ellipse, but approaches very near it. Its longest axis is four
hundred and eighty feet, its conjugate diameter four hundred and
seven feet. It is built upon a high and beautiful level, elevated
some sixty or seventy feet above the Scioto river, which flows about
half a mile to the eastward. The embankment is unaccompanied by
a ditch, and is about three feet in height, by thirty feet base.
It has, as shown in the plan, a single gateway, ninety feet wide,
opening to the south-east, which is covered by a long exterior mound,
of about the same height with the embankment of the enclosure.

Within this enclosure is a large irregular mound, which, from its
resemblance to the animal-shaped mounds of Wisconsin, of which notice
will be taken in [p084] another place, constitutes by far the most
interesting feature of the work. It is of the form and relative size
indicated in the plan, and is composed of loose broken sandstone and
earth, based upon dislocated and broken sand-rock. It is from one
to eight feet high, being lowest at the eastern end or head, and at
the projecting points. It is probably of the same design with those
of Wisconsin, already alluded to, which occur in great numbers and
in long and apparently dependent ranges. None of those, however,
so far as known, are found enclosed after the manner of the one
here presented. (See “«Remains of the North-West».”) No explanation
of the probable design of this work will be attempted here: it is
impossible, however, to disconnect it from the superstitions of the
ancient people. An interesting fact is communicated by F. Cleveland,
Esq., of Portsmouth, who assisted Mr. Whittlesey in making the survey
of this work, and who was engineer on the Ohio canal when it was in
progress; viz. that the workmen engaged in excavating found large
quantities of mica, in sheets, in the immediate vicinity of this
enclosure. This mineral is found in great abundance in the mounds,
and in the neighborhood of these ancient works.


This work occurs on the banks of Olentangy creek, a tributary of
the Scioto river, about one mile west of the town of Worthington,
Franklin county, Ohio. The plateau upon the edge of which it is
situated is elevated about fifty feet above the bottoms of the
Olentangy, and consists of a clayey soil resting on the black shale
formation of Ohio. The work is rectangular in form; its sides
correspond very nearly with the cardinal points, (varying but five
degrees,) and measure six hundred and thirty, and five hundred and
fifty feet respectively. The walls are unaccompanied by a ditch, and
are very slight, though distinctly traceable. In the line of the
southern wall is a large truncated mound, C, twenty feet in height,
and measuring one hundred and ninety-two feet in diameter at the
base, and seventy-six feet in diameter at the summit. It is covered
with large trees. The wall that leads from this mound to the left,
is placed a little further outwards than that leading to the right.
The mound D, in the centre of the enclosure, is small and low. Near
the south-western corner of the work is a small circle, with an
interior ditch and single entrance; it is one hundred and twenty feet
in diameter. Some distance to the north-west of the enclosure, and
on the opposite side of a deep ravine, is another small circle, one
hundred and forty feet in diameter, with three entrances. [p085]

[Illustration: XXX. Ancient Works:

No. 1. Butler Co. Ohio

No. 2. Butler Co. Ohio

No. 3. Near Bourneville, Ross Co. Ohio

No. 4. On Black Run, Ross Co. Ohio]

 PLATE XXX. No. 1.[65]

This work is situated four miles south-west of the town of Hamilton,
Butler county, Ohio, on S. 10, T. 1, R. 2, between the Great and
Little Miami rivers. It is indicated by the letter C, in the Map of a
section of the Miami valley (Plate III, No. 2).

The ground upon which this unique work is built is the level bottom
of the Miami river, at a distance from any high lands. The principal
or square portion of the work is constructed of an embankment of
earth, about four feet high by fifty feet base, unaccompanied by a
ditch. The walls of the circular or irregular portion of the work,
towards Pleasant run, are considerably heavier, and have an interior
ditch. The work is not an exact square, nor are its gateways disposed
with the usual degree of regularity. The walls, at the western angle,
terminate in a large oblong mound, and a small mound occupies the
centre of one of the attached circular works.

At a short distance from the enclosure, towards the south, are two
large mounds, placed one hundred and thirty-five feet apart. They are
each about two hundred and fifty feet in circumference, and fifteen
feet in perpendicular height, and are in part composed of large
stones. These mounds, as also the larger portion of the enclosure,
are situated in timbered land, the forests presenting the usual
primitive aspect. The trees growing upon the walls are of the largest
size, and are surrounded by the fallen and decayed trunks of their
predecessors. From this work to the Miami river, the distance is now
about half a mile; the intervening bottom is low and of comparatively
recent formation. It is probable that the river once washed the work,
at the point now bounded by Pleasant run.

For reasons which it is here unnecessary to recapitulate, this work
is deemed of religious origin.

 PLATE XXX. No. 2.[66]

This work is indicated by the letter F, in the map of a section of
the Miami valley, and is situated on the right bank of the Miami
river, seven miles below the town of Hamilton, Butler county, Ohio,
on S. 27 and 34, T. 3, R. 2, E. M.

Little can be said respecting it, except that it is a circle of
considerable size, [p086] bounded by an embankment, at present about
two feet high, composed of earth taken up evenly from the surface,
or brought from a distance. It has an entrance to the left, two
hundred and seventy-five feet wide; the embankment upon either hand
terminating in a small mound, between four and five feet high. The
area of the enclosure is level, and covered with forest: the trees
are, however, small, owing probably to the nature of the soil, which
is thin and gravelly. The plain is here fifty feet above the adjacent

About a mile north-east of this work, on the opposite bank of Indian
creek, are three large mounds, on a line with each other. On the
lower bottom or terrace, opposite to each mound, is a corresponding
hole or excavation, from which the earth composing them was doubtless

 PLATE XXX. No. 3.

The small work here figured is one of the most beautiful in the State
of Ohio. It is situated upon the highest terrace, directly facing,
and about one mile distant from, the great stone hill-work of the
Paint creek valley (Plate IV). It consists of a wall of earth, eight
or ten feet in height, with a broad and shallow exterior ditch. In
figure it is elliptical, with a transverse diameter of seven hundred
and fifty, and a conjugate diameter of six hundred and seventy-five
feet. It has a gateway one hundred and twenty feet wide, leading into
it from the south-west. It opens upon a small spur of the terrace,
which has been artificially rounded and graded, so as to make a
regular and easy descent to the lower level. Upon either side of
this grade, the banks of the terrace are steep and irregular. A very
copious spring of water starts from the bank near the wall, a little
to the right of the entrance. A small circle and a couple of mounds
are situated on the next lower terrace, at the points indicated in
the plan.

This work is admirably preserved, and is remarkable as being the
only circular work at present known, which has its ditch exterior to
the walls. The proprietor esteems the soil much richer within the
enclosure, than upon the adjacent plain. We are unprepared to ascribe
any other than a religious origin to this structure. [p087]

 PLATE XXX. No. 4.

This unique work is situated in the little valley of “Black run,” a
small tributary of Paint creek, and is distant about fifteen miles
from Chillicothe. It is indicated by the letter E, in the “Map
exhibiting a section of six miles of the Paint creek valley.” The
walls are composed of stones; but if ever regularly laid up, they
are now thrown down, though not greatly scattered. The outlines are
clearly defined, and can be exactly traced. The body of the work is
elliptical in shape, its conjugate diameter being one hundred and
seventy feet, its transverse two hundred and fifty feet. There is
a single opening or gateway, fifty feet wide, on the south, where
the walls curve outwards and lap back upon themselves for the space
of sixty feet. The most remarkable feature of this singular work
consists of five walls, starting within ten feet of the unbroken
line of the elliptical enclosure, and extending thence northward,
slightly converging, for the distance of one hundred feet. The lines
of the outer walls, if prolonged, would intersect each other at
the distance of two hundred and fifty feet. These walls are twenty
feet broad at the ends nearest the enclosure, and ten feet apart.
They diminish gradually, as they recede, to ten feet at their outer
extremities. The western wall is nearly obliterated; the stones for
the construction of all the “cabin” hearths and chimneys in the
neighborhood having been taken from this spot. The western portion of
the wall of the ellipse has also suffered from the same cause. The
amount of stone embraced in the outer walls is considerable, probably
sufficient to construct walls of equal length, six feet broad and
eight feet high. They now exhibit but slight evidence of ever having
been regularly laid up, and more resemble mounds of stones rudely
thrown together. The stones have been removed from a section of the
central wall, to the base; but we have been unable to ascertain that
the operation disclosed relics of any kind. The wall of the body of
the work appears considerably lighter than those last mentioned, and
it is now quite impossible to determine whether it was ever regularly
constructed. The stones cover a space fifteen or twenty feet broad,
and are irregularly heaped together to the height of perhaps three
feet. The work is overgrown with briers, bushes, and trees; which,
when in leaf, completely hide its features from view, and render a
satisfactory examination impossible. In the autumn or spring, the
entire outline of the work is distinctly visible.

The purposes of this strange work are entirely inexplicable: its
small size precludes the idea of a defensive origin. It is the only
structure of the kind which has yet been discovered in the valleys,
and it is totally unlike those found on the hills. The great “Stone
Fort” on Paint creek (Plate IV) is but two miles distant, and
overlooks this work; both may be regarded as belonging to the same
era, and as probably in some way connected with each other. [p088]


There is a singular class of earthworks, occurring at various
points at the West, which seem better to come up to the utilitarian
standard of our day than any other, and the purposes of which to the
popular mind, if not to that of the antiquarian, seem very clear.
These are the «graded ways», ascending sometimes from one terrace
to another, and occasionally descending towards the banks of rivers
or water-courses. The one already described, in connection with the
works at Marietta, is of the latter description; as is also that at
Piqua, Ohio, described by Maj. LONG.[67] One of the former character
occurs near Richmondale, Ross county, Ohio; and another, and the most
remarkable one, about one mile below Piketon, Pike county, in the
same State. A plan and view of the latter is herewith presented.


It consists of a graded ascent from the second to the third terrace,
the level of which is here seventeen feet above that of the former.
The way is ten hundred and eighty feet long, by two hundred and
fifteen feet wide at one extremity, and two hundred and three feet
wide at the other, measured between the bases of the banks. [p089]
The earth is thrown outward on either hand, forming embankments
varying upon the outer sides from five to eleven feet in height;
yet it appears that much more earth has been excavated than enters
into these walls. At the lower extremity of the grade, the walls
upon the interior sides measure no less than «twenty-two» feet in
perpendicular height. The easy ascent here afforded has been rendered
available in the construction of the Chillicothe and Portsmouth
turnpike, which passes through it. The walls are covered with trees
and bushes, and resemble parallel natural hills, and probably would
be regarded as such by the superficial observer. Indeed, hundreds
pass along without suspecting that they are in the midst of one of
the most interesting monuments which the country affords, and one
which bears a marked resemblance to some of those works which are
described to us in connection with the causeways and aqueducts of

[Illustration: XXXI.

No. 1. Graded-way Near Piketon, Pike Co. Ohio.

No. 2. Ancient Work Near Sommerville, Butler Co. Ohio.

No. 3. Ancient Work on Nine Mile Creek, Butler Co. Ohio.

No. 4. Ancient Work on Great Miami River, Butler Co. Ohio.]

From the end of the right-hand wall, upon the third terrace, extends
a low line of embankment, (now much obliterated by the construction
of the turnpike,) two thousand five hundred and eighty feet long,
leading towards a group of mounds, as shown in the plan. At the
distance of fifteen hundred feet from the grade, a wall starts off at
right angles, for the distance of two hundred and twelve feet, when
it assumes a course parallel to the principal line for four hundred
and twenty feet, and then curves inwardly, terminating near a group
consisting of one large and three small mounds. A ground plan of the
latter is elsewhere given. This group of mounds is now enclosed,
and constitutes the cemetery of the neighborhood. Forty rods to the
right of this group, is a large mound thirty feet in height. Several
small mounds occur upon the adjacent plain, though no enclosures of
magnitude are found nearer than five miles lower down, on the river.

The left-hand wall of the grade as we descend seems continued down
upon the second terrace for some distance, terminating near a low
spot of ground, usually containing water. Similar depressions are
observed in the ancient beds of streams. It has been suggested that
the Scioto river once flowed along the base of the terrace at this
point, and that the way led down to it. Without expressing an opinion
upon the probability of this conjecture, it is sufficient to observe
that the river now flows more than half a mile to the left, and that
two terraces, each twenty feet in height, intervene between the
present and the supposed ancient level of the stream. To assent to
the suggestion, would be to admit an almost immeasurable antiquity to
the structure under consideration.

It is, of course, useless to speculate upon the probable purpose
of this work. At first glance, it seems obvious; namely, that it
was constructed simply to facilitate the ascent from one terrace to
another. But the long line of embankment extending from it, and the
manifest connection which exists between it and the mounds upon the
plain, unsettle this conclusion. After all, we are obliged to leave
this interesting work with the single remark, already several times
made in respect to others equally interesting and inexplicable, that
future investigations, carefully conducted, may solve alike the
problem of their purposes and of their origin.[68] [p090]

A singular work of art occurs on the top of a high hill, standing
in the rear of the town of Piketon, and overlooking it, which it
may not be out of place to mention here. It consists of a perfectly
circular excavation, thirty feet in diameter, and twelve feet deep,
terminating in a point at the bottom. It contains water for the
greater part of the year. A slight and regular wall is thrown up
around its edge. A full and very distinct view of the graded way just
described is commanded from this point.

 PLATE XXXI. Nos. 2, 3, and 4.

The works here presented possess few characteristics of works of
defence, and yet have little of the regularity, and but few of the
features, which distinguish the sacred enclosures.

NUMBER 2 is situated near Sommerville, Butler county, Ohio, on S.
3 and 10, T. 5, R. 2, E. M. It occupies the second terrace between
Pleasant run and Seven Mile creek, and seems to have been encroached
upon by both these streams. This terrace is about twenty-five feet
higher than the first terrace, and is bounded by steep banks. The
wall of the work is about four feet high, the ditch of proportionate
depth. Near the centre is an exceedingly regular mound, one hundred
feet in diameter at the base, and thirteen feet in altitude. It is
now covered with a fine growth of maple-trees. At the north-east
corner of the work, in the embankment, there is a quantity of
stones placed with some degree of regularity,—probably originally
constituting a sort of wall. At the opposite extremity of the work is
a dug hole or “well.”

NUMBER 3 is situated nine miles north of the town of Hamilton, Butler
county, Ohio, on a rich alluvial bottom, between Seven Mile and Nine
Mile creeks, the latter of which seems to have encroached upon the
work. The large oblong mound in the centre was partially excavated
in constructing the Hamilton and Eaton turnpike. A quantity of bones
were discovered; but nothing is known of the position in which they
were found.

NUMBER 4 is situated on the east bank of the Great Miami river,
four miles below the town of Hamilton, Butler county, Ohio, and is
indicated by the letter D, in the map of a section of the Miami
valley. Probably not more than half the original work now exists, the
remainder having been destroyed by the encroachments of the river.
The wall and ditch are slight; the former not exceeding three feet in
height, and the latter two feet in depth. At the bank of the river,
however, the original depth of the ditch, as also the amount of the
vegetable and other matter with which it is filled up, are distinctly
visible. The ditch, which had been sunk into the [p091] gravel,
was originally five feet eight inches in depth; the accumulation
since its abandonment has been, therefore, three feet eight inches.
Allowing the wall to have subsided to an equal extent, its original
height from the bottom of the trench must have been upwards of twelve

[Illustration: XXXII. Ancient Works:

No. 1. On Mill Creek, Butler Co. Ohio.

No. 2. Near Lowell, Washington Co. Ohio.

No. 3. Near Chillicothe, Ross Co. Ohio.

No. 4. In Chillicothe, Ross Co. Ohio.

No. 5. Near Bainbridge, Ross Co. Ohio.

No. 6. Near Mt. Sterling, Montgomery Co. Kentucky.]

The rapidity with which the river encroaches upon its banks at this
point may be inferred from the fact, that twenty years previous to
the time of the survey of this work by Mr. McBride, in 1836, the
river flowed not far from three hundred feet to the left of the
central mound, which since that time has entirely disappeared. About
thirty feet below this mound was found, some years ago, a number of
flat stories set on edge, forming a kind of coffin, in which was a
human skeleton, accompanied by a large marine shell and some rude
implements. About a fourth of a mile below this work, appears to have
been a general cemetery. The graves are indicated by small regular
elevations.[69] The three works last described are laid down from
the surveys of Mr. MCBRIDE, from whose notes the above facts are
principally derived.


Upon this plate are placed a number of small works, and groups of
works, arranged however with no view to any relationship, but as best
served the purposes of the engraver.

NUMBER 1 is a group of small works situated on a branch of Mill
creek, near the south-east corner of Butler county, Ohio, on S. 14,
T. 3, R. 2, M. R. The rectangular work is two hundred and twenty feet
long, by one hundred and twenty feet broad. The walls are now about
five feet high, and are unaccompanied by a ditch. There were standing
upon the embankment, in 1842, a red-oak tree three and a half feet in
diameter, and a white-oak tree three feet in diameter. Twenty rods
north of this work is a truncated mound ten feet high; and a short
distance [p092] beyond it, rises a steep bank, fifty feet high,
ascending which we come to elevated ground. Here are the remains of
another small elliptical work, and some mounds. Upon the brow of the
bank, at «a», is a pile of stones much burned, which is known in the
vicinity as “«the furnace».” Immediately below, at the foot of the
bank, is a copious spring. The survey of this group was made by Mr.

NUMBER 2 is situated near the town of Lowell, Washington county,
Ohio, and consists of a slight embankment of earth, of exceedingly
regular outline. Little can be said of it, except that it is
accompanied by eleven mounds; all of which are, however, exterior to
the walls.

NUMBER 3 is a group of small works, occupying the high lands on
the east side of the Scioto river, opposite Chillicothe. They are
indicated by the letter L, in the map of a section of the Scioto
Valley (Plate II). They are introduced on a very small scale, so
as to exhibit the dependence which seems to exist between them. Of
course the relative size of the circles and mounds is considerably
exaggerated. The mound numbered 1 occupies the most conspicuous
point in the valley; and from it is afforded the most extended view
that can be obtained in that entire region. Whether this fact can be
taken to establish its design as a beacon or observatory, it is not
presumed to say. The mound numbered 2 is one of the finest known.
It is elliptical, one hundred and sixty feet long, sixty broad, and
fifteen high. It has never been investigated. The remaining mounds,
3, 4, 5, and 6, are all of large size. A fine view of the extensive
ancient works in the vicinity of Chillicothe must have been afforded
from these elevated plains.

NUMBER 4.—These works are included within the corporation limits
of Chillicothe. They are already much obliterated, and will soon
be no longer traceable. They consist of a series of small circles,
of uniform size, each two hundred and fifty feet in diameter. More
extensive works formerly existed in connection with them, but have
now entirely disappeared. The mound represented in the plan is
seventeen feet in height, and has what seems to be a graded ascent
from the south. It has been excavated, and will be noticed at length
elsewhere in this volume. The circles, it will be observed, appear to
be disposed with some degree of regularity in respect to each other.
The gateways of three of them open towards the east, that of the
remaining one towards the south.

NUMBER 5.—This unique little work is situated in the valley of Paint
creek, about one mile west of the village of Bainbridge, Ross county,
Ohio, on the turnpike leading from Chillicothe to Cincinnati. Its
character can only be understood from the plan. It affords but one
of the thousand various combinations which the circular structures
of the West assume. It can, of course, be regarded only as connected
with the superstitions of the builders, for the reason that it could
answer no good purpose for protection, nor subserve any of the [p093]
useful purposes for which enclosures are required, such as the
limits of fields and possessions, or the boundaries of villages.

[Illustration: XXXIII.

No. 1. Ancient Works on Brush Creek, near Mount Sterling, Kentucky.

No. 2. Ancient Work near Winchester, Indiana.

No. 3. Map of a part of T. 20, R. 14, Randolph Co. Indiana.]

NUMBER 6.—This work is situated near Mount Sterling, Montgomery
county, Kentucky; and consists of a large truncated mound,
twenty-five feet in height, flanked on the north and west by narrow
grades or slopes. It is connected with a circular work, three hundred
and fifty feet in diameter, by an elevated way or terrace, one
hundred feet long. The circle has a small mound in its centre, and
a gateway opening to the east. Three small mounds occur in close
connection with it. The plan is from the RAFINESQUE MSS.

Lest these comparatively little works should appear insignificant,
from the small scale on which they are presented, it may be well
enough to remark, that the circle formed by the stones composing the
great temple of Stonehenge is but a little more than one hundred feet
in diameter, and that most of the circular earth and stone structures
of the British islands are considerably less in size than those here

 PLATE XXXIII. No. 1.[70]

This group of ancient works is situated on the west side of Brush
creek, six miles south-east of Mount Sterling, Montgomery county,
Kentucky. The work indicated by the letter A is one hundred feet
square, and is composed of a slight embankment, with an interior
ditch. There is an entrance from the east. The elliptical mound C is
about two hundred yards distant from A, towards the east. It is nine
feet high, two hundred and seventy feet in circumference, truncated,
and surmounted by a smaller conical mound. Another small mound is
connected with it, as shown in the plan. B is a circular work, five
hundred and ten feet in circumference, with a ditch interior to the
wall, and a gateway opening towards the east. The unexcavated ground
in the interior is square in form, exhibiting an entire identity in
this feature with various works in Ohio. (See Plates XXII, XXIV.) D
is a hexagonal enclosure; whole circumference three hundred feet,
each side fifty feet, with a gateway at the eastern corner. On the
opposite side of Brush creek is a large elliptical mound, E. This
group occupies a broad, elevated plain. Numerous other works occur in
the same county. [p094]

 PLATE XXXIII.  No. 2.[71]

The character of this work, which is situated in Randolph county,
Indiana, is sufficiently well exhibited by the plan. In the same
vicinity are other works of an interesting character, the relative
positions of which are shown in the sectional map. The work of which
the enlarged plan is here given is indicated by the letter A on
the map. A precisely analogous work, of smaller size, is situated
on Sugar creek at C. At B is a copious spring, surrounded by an


The work here presented is situated near the western border of
Clermont county, Ohio, about one mile east from the town of Milford,
which is built near the junction of the East fork with the Little
Miami river. It occupies the third terrace, which is here broad and
fertile, and consists of those constantly recurring figures, the
square and the circle. The plan will give a correct idea of its
outline. In its form and combination, it closely resembles some
of the more remarkable structures of the Scioto valley, and was
doubtless erected for a common purpose with them. It has, however,
one novel and interesting feature. The parallels which lead off from
the large irregular circle extend upon an isolated hill to the left,
which is elevated perhaps fifty feet above the plain, where they end
in a small circle, not more than three hundred feet in diameter. From
this circle diverging lines extend to the south-west, terminating in
a maze of walls unlike any others which have yet fallen under notice.
A portion of the parallels and the diverging lines just mentioned
are much reduced, and when the crops are on the ground, are hardly

From the hill an extensive prospect is afforded, bringing in view the
sites of several large groups of works in the vicinity. It has been
suggested that the structures upon the hill were devoted to rites
analogous to those attending the primitive hill or grove worship of
the East.

An inspection of this work shows clearly that the irregularity of the
great circle is due to the nature of the ground, and that the terrace
bank bordering the old bed of the East fork existed at the period
of the construction of the work. The river now flows a considerable
distance to the southward. [p095]

[Illustration: XXXIV. Ancient Works:

No. 1. Near Milford, Clermont Co. Ohio.

No. 2. On E. Fork Little Miami River, Clermont Co. Ohio.

No. 3. On Massies Creek, Greene Co. Ohio.

No. 3. Seven Miles N. from Xenia, Greene Co. Ohio.]

About four miles above the Milford work, on the East fork of the
Little Miami, is a small rectangular work. It is entirely isolated.
Its sides measure each seven hundred feet; and it has gateways at
each corner and midway on each side.

A very good survey of this work was made many years ago by Gen. LYTLE
of Cincinnati, and published in Worden’s Appendix to Du Paix’s work
on the antiquities of Mexico.


The work indicated by the letter A is situated upon the opposite
side of the Little Miami, from that last described. The plan, which
is also from a survey by Gen. LYTLE, sufficiently explains its
character. Several mounds occur in the vicinity of this work, and a
few miles below, at Newtown, there is a considerable group of large

About twenty miles above these remains, upon the East fork of the
Little Miami, is a singular work, a plan of which, B, is here given.
It was also surveyed by Gen. LYTLE, and a plan of it appears both in
Du Paix’s work, and in the appendix to Hugh Williamson’s work on the
climate of America. Whether both plans are from the same survey is
unknown; they however coincide in all important particulars. Without
vouching for the entire accuracy of the plan, we may be permitted
to say that there can be no doubt of the existence of a work of
this general and extraordinary outline, at the point indicated. Its
thorough investigation is an object greatly to be desired.

 PLATE XXXIV. Nos. 3 and 4.

NUMBER 3.—This group is situated on Massie’s creek, about half a
mile below the fortified promontory already described, Plate XII,
No. 3. It has no features worthy of special notice. The walls of the
semi-circles are about five feet in height.

NUMBER 4.—The polygon here presented is situated on the right bank
of the Little Miami river, seven miles above Xenia, Greene county,
Ohio. It lies chiefly in S. 24, T. 4, and R. 8, and closely resembles
several of the Kentucky works, plans of which are given on Plate
XIV. It was probably designed for defence. A [p096] number of other
works occur in this vicinity. One of considerable size is found at
Oldtown, near the former site of the “Old Miami towns,” so famous in
the history of our Indian wars.

       *       *       *       *       *

Among the earthworks of the Ohio valley, there is a small but very
interesting class, which has hitherto most unaccountably escaped
observation. They are not enclosures, nor can we with propriety
designate them as mounds, according to the technical application
of the term in this work. They bear some resemblance to the
“animal-shaped mounds” of Wisconsin, to which public attention has
recently been several times directed; but from their position,
dependencies, and other circumstances, they seem clearly of a
different origin and dedicated to a different purpose. For reasons
which cannot fail to be obvious to every mind, after an examination
of the illustrations which follow, they have been classed as works
of sacred origin. Their character, so far as known, will appear from
the examples here presented. What may have been their mythological
signification, it is perhaps hopeless for us to inquire. They possess
some truly remarkable analogies to remains of other portions of the
globe, which will furnish the studious inquirer with matter for
deeply interesting speculation.


Probably the most extraordinary earthwork thus far discovered at
the West, is the Great Serpent, of which a faithful delineation is
given in the accompanying plan. It is situated on Brush creek, at
a point known as the “Three Forks,” on Entry 1014, near the north
line of Adams county, Ohio. No plan or description has hitherto been
published; nor does the fact of its existence appear to have been
known beyond the secluded vicinity in which it occurs. The notice
first received by the authors of these researches was exceedingly
vague and indefinite, and led to the conclusion that it was a
work of defence, with bastions at regular intervals,—a feature so
extraordinary as to induce a visit, which resulted in the discovery
here presented. The true character of the work was apparent on the
first inspection.

[Illustration: XXXV. Great Serpent, Adams Co. Ohio.]

It is situated upon a high, crescent-form hill or spur of land,
rising one hundred and fifty feet above the level of Brush creek,
which washes its base. The side of the hill next the stream presents
a perpendicular wall of rock, while the other [p097] slopes
rapidly, though it is not so steep as to preclude cultivation. The
top of the hill is not level but slightly convex, and presents a very
even surface, one hundred and fifty feet wide by one thousand long,
measuring from its extremity to the point where it connects with the
table land. Conforming to the curve of the hill, and occupying its
very summit, is the serpent, its head resting near the point, and its
body winding back for seven hundred feet, in graceful undulations,
terminating in a triple coil at the tail. The entire length, if
extended, would be not less than one thousand feet. The accompanying
plan, laid down from accurate survey, can alone give an adequate
conception of the outline of the work, which is clearly and boldly
defined, the embankment being upwards of five feet in height by
thirty feet base, at the centre of the body, but diminishing somewhat
towards the head and tail. The neck of the serpent is stretched out
and slightly curved, and its mouth is opened wide as if in the act
of swallowing or ejecting an oval figure, which rests partially
within the distended jaws. This oval is formed by an embankment of
earth, without any perceptible opening, four feet in height, and is
perfectly regular in outline, its transverse and conjugate diameters
being one hundred and sixty and eighty feet respectively. The ground
within the oval is slightly elevated: a small circular elevation of
large stones much burned once existed in its centre; but they have
been thrown down and scattered by some ignorant visitor, under the
prevailing impression probably that gold was hidden beneath them. The
point of the hill, within which this egg-shaped figure rests, seems
to have been artificially cut to conform to its outline, leaving a
smooth platform, ten feet wide, and somewhat inclining inwards, all
around it. The section «a b» will illustrate this feature.

Upon either side of the serpent’s head extend two small triangular
elevations, ten or twelve feet over. They are not high, and although
too distinct to be overlooked, are yet too much obliterated to be
satisfactorily traced. Besides a platform, or level oval terrace,
at B, and a large mound in the centre of the isthmus connecting
the hill with the table land beyond, there are no other remains,
excepting a few mounds, within six or eight miles,—none, perhaps,
nearer than the entrenched hill in Highland county, (see Plate V,)
thirteen miles distant. There are a number of works lower down on
Brush creek, towards its mouth; but their character is not known. The
point on which this effigy occurs commands an extensive prospect,
overlooking the “bottoms” found at the junction of the three
principal tributaries of the creek. The alluvial terraces are here
quite extensive, and it is a matter of surprise that no works occur
upon them.

The serpent, separate or in combination with the circle, egg, or
globe, has been a predominant symbol among many primitive nations.
It prevailed in Egypt, Greece, and Assyria, and entered widely into
the superstitions of the Celts, the Hindoos, and the Chinese. It even
penetrated into America; and was conspicuous in the mythology of the
ancient Mexicans, among whom its significance does not seem to have
differed materially from that which it possessed in the old world.
The fact that the ancient Celts, and perhaps other nations of the
old continent, erected sacred structures in the form of the serpent,
is one of high interest. Of this description was the great temple
of Abury, in England,—in many respects the most imposing ancient
monument of the British islands. [p098]

It is impossible, in this connection, to trace the analogies which
the Ohio structure exhibits to the serpent temples of England, or to
point out the extent to which the symbol was applied in America,—an
investigation fraught with the greatest interest both in respect
to the light which it reflects upon the primitive superstitions of
remotely separated people, and especially upon the origin of the
American race.


The work here figured is found near the little town of Tarlton,
Pickaway county, Ohio, in the narrow valley of “Salt creek,” a
tributary of the Scioto river, eighteen miles north-east from
Chillicothe, on the great road to Zanesville. In position it
corresponds generally with the remarkable work last described,
though wholly unlike it in form. It occupies a narrow spur of
land, at a prominent point of the valley; its form is that of a
Greek cross, ninety feet between the ends, and elevated three feet
above the adjacent surface. It is surrounded by a slight ditch,
corresponding to the outline of the elevation; in the centre is a
circular depression, twenty feet across and twenty inches deep. The
sides of the cross correspond very nearly with the cardinal points.
Immediately back of it, is a small circular elevation of stone and
earth, resembling that in connection with the Granville effigy, (No.
2 of the Plate,) and denominated an altar in the description of that
work. Several small mounds occur near by; and upon the high hill, a
spur of which is occupied by the cross, are several large mounds.
Mounds are quite numerous in this little valley, and on the hills
bordering it; but it is not known to contain any enclosures.


This strange work occupies a position somewhat analogous to that
of the great serpent already described. It occurs about one mile
below the town of Granville, Licking county, Ohio, upon a high and
beautifully rounded spur of land, which projects boldly into the
delightful valley of “Raccoon creek,” a stream which, in conjunction
with the “South fork,” forms Licking creek or river, the principal
[p099] tributary of the Muskingum. The hill or headland is one
hundred and fifty or two hundred feet in height; and the effigy
rests upon its very brow, conforming to its longitudinal as well
as lateral curve. Its form is accurately indicated in the plan.
It is known in the vicinity as “the Alligator;” which designation
has been adopted, for want of a better, although the figure bears
as close a resemblance to the lizard as any other reptile. It is
placed transversely to the point of land on which it occurs, the
head pointing to the south-west; its precise bearing is S. 67° W.
The total length from the point of the nose following the curve
of the tail to the tip, is about two hundred and fifty feet; the
breadth of the body forty feet; and the length of the legs or paws,
each thirty-six feet. The ends of the paws are a little broader than
the remaining portions of the same, as if the spread of the toes
had been originally indicated. The head, shoulders, and rump, are
more elevated than the other parts of the body, an attempt having
evidently been made to preserve the proportions of the object copied.
The outline of the figure is clearly defined; its average height is
not less than four feet; at the shoulders it is six feet in altitude.
Upon the inner side of the effigy is an elevated circular space,
covered with stones which have been much burned. This has been
denominated an altar. Leading from it to the top of the effigy is a
graded way, ten feet broad. The earth has been excavated at various
points of the figure; but nothing was disclosed except the fact
that the framework is composed of stones of considerable size. The
superstructure is of fine clay, which seems to have been brought from
a distance, as no signs of excavation are apparent in the vicinity.

[Illustration: XXXVI.

No. 1. “The Cross”, Near Tarlton, Pickaway Co. Ohio.

No. 2. “The Alligator”, Near Granville, Licking Co. Ohio.

No. 3. Rock Mill Work, Fairfield Co. Ohio.

No. 4. Map of Section of Newark Valley.]

The headland upon which this effigy occurs is so regular as almost
to induce the belief that it has been artificially rounded. Its
symmetry has lately been somewhat broken by the opening of a quarry
in its face, the further working of which will inevitably result in
the entire destruction of this interesting monument.[72] It commands
a view of the entire valley for eight or ten miles, and is by far
the most conspicuous point within that limit. Its prominence is,
of necessity, somewhat exaggerated in the small map “exhibiting a
section of six miles of the Newark valley,” (No. 4 of the Plate,) in
which it is indicated by the letter A. The extensive work E, in the
vicinity of Newark, would be distinctly visible from this point, in
the absence of the intervening forests. In the valley immediately
opposite, and less than half a mile distant, is a large and beautiful
circular work, C. To the right, three fourths of a mile distant, is a
fortified hill B, (see Plate IX,) and upon the opposing side of the
valley is another entrenched hill, D; all of which, together with
numerous mounds upon the hill-tops and in the valley, are commanded
from this position.

It seems more than probable that this singular effigy, like that
last described, had its origin in the superstitions of its makers.
It was perhaps the high place where sacrifices were made, on stated
or extraordinary occasions, and where the [p100] ancient people
gathered to celebrate the rites of their unknown worship. Its
position, and all the circumstances attending it, certainly favor
such a conclusion. The valley which it overlooks abounds in traces
of the remote people, and seems to have been one of the centres of
ancient population.


This work is remarkable as being the only one, entirely regular in
its plan, which has yet been discovered occupying the summit of a
hill. It is situated on the road from Lancaster, Fairfield county,
Ohio, to Columbus, the capital of the State, seven miles distant from
the former place, near a point known as the “Hocking river Upper
Falls,” or “Rock Mill.” It consists of a small square measuring four
hundred and twenty feet on each side, in combination with two small
circles, one hundred and twenty-five and two hundred and ten feet in
diameter respectively. The hill is nearly two hundred feet in height,
with a slightly undulating plain of small extent at its summit. The
works are so arranged that the small circle, enclosing the mound,
overlooks every part and commands a wide prospect on every hand.
Towards the brow of the hill, at prominent points, are two elliptical
terraces or elevations of small size. The sides of the square
enclosure correspond to the cardinal points. The walls, excepting
those of the circular structures, are very slight, and unaccompanied
by a ditch. The work is clearly not of a defensive origin, and
must be classed with those of similar outline occupying the river
terraces. At a short distance above this point, the champaign country
commences, and no other remains are found. The erections of the
mound-builders are almost exclusively confined to the borders of the

There are very few enclosures, so far as known, in the Hocking river
valley; there are, however, numerous mounds upon the narrow terraces
and on the hills bordering them. In the vicinity of Athens are a
number of the largest size, and also several enclosures. (See Plate
XXIII.) Mounds are found upon the high bluffs in the neighborhood of
Lancaster, at points commanding the widest range. An examination of
the valley with a view of bringing to light its ancient monuments
would, without doubt, be attended with very interesting results.


This little map exhibits a section of six miles of the Newark valley,
showing the relative positions of the “Newark group” (Plate XXV); the
“Fortified Hill” near Granville (Plate IX); and the “Alligator,” just
described. But a small proportion of the mounds occurring within this
range are shown on the map.

       *       *       *       *       *

These comprise the only works in the form of animals which have
fallen under notice. The singular mound occurring within the great
circle near Newark may perhaps deserve to occupy a place with them:
that, however, has the internal characteristics of the sacrificial
mounds, while the others, so far as our knowledge extends, cover no
remains. The mound found within the work in Scioto county, Ohio,
(Plate XXIX,) and described on a preceding page, may also rank with
them. From the information which we possess concerning the animal
effigies of Wisconsin, it does not appear probable that they were
constructed for a common purpose with those of Ohio. They occur
usually in considerable numbers, in ranges, upon the level prairies;
while the few which are found in Ohio occupy elevated and commanding
positions,—“high places,” as if designed to be set apart for sacred
purposes. An “altar,” if we may so term it, is distinctly to be
observed in the oval enclosure connected with the “Great Serpent;”
one is equally distinct near the Granville work, and another in
connection with the lesser but equally interesting work near Tarlton.
If we were to deduce a conclusion from these premises, it would
certainly be, that these several effigies possessed a symbolical
meaning, and were the objects of superstitious regard.

Whether any other works of this description occur in the State
or valley is not known; it is extremely likely, however, that a
systematic examination of the whole field would result in the
discovery of others equally remarkable, and perhaps disclose a
connection between them and the animal effigies of the North-west,
already alluded to. The facts that none of these singular remains
have been noticed, and that up to this time not a single intimation
of their existence has been made public, show how little attention
has been bestowed upon our antiquities, and how much remains to be
accomplished before we can fully comprehend them.

       *       *       *       *       *

Such is the character of a large proportion of the ancient monuments
of the Mississippi valley. How far a faithful attention to their
details has tended to [p102] sustain the position assigned them
at the commencement of this chapter, the intelligent reader must

The great size of most of the foregoing structures precludes the idea
that they were «temples» in the general acceptation of the term.
As has already been intimated, they were probably, like the great
circles of England, and the squares of India, Peru, and Mexico, the
sacred enclosures, within which were erected the shrines of the
gods of the ancient worship and the altars of the ancient religion.
They may have embraced consecrated groves, and also, as they did in
Mexico, the residences of the ancient priesthood. Like the sacred
structures of the country last named, some of them may have been
secondarily designed for protection in times of danger; “for,” says
Gomara, “the force and strength of every Mexican city is its temple.”
However that may be, we know that it has been a practice, common
to almost every people in every time, to enclose their temples and
altars with walls of various materials, so as to guard the sacred
area around them from the desecration of animals or the intrusion of
the profane. Spots consecrated by tradition, or rendered remarkable
as the scene of some extraordinary event, or by whatever means
connected with the superstitions, or invested with the reverence of
men, have always been designated in this or some similar manner. The
South Sea Islander, as did the ancient Sclavonian, encircles his
«tabooed» or consecrated tree with a fence of woven branches; the
pagoda of the Hindoo is enclosed by high and massive walls, within
which the scoffer at his religion finds no admittance; the sacred
square of the Caaba can only be entered in a posture of humiliation
and with unshod feet; and the assurance that “this is holy ground”
is impressed upon every one who, at this day, approaches the temples
of the true God. The block idol of the poor Laplander has its sacred
limit within which the devotee only ventures on bended knees and with
face to the earth; the oak-crowned Druid taught the mysteries of
his stern religion in temples of unhewn stones, open to the sun, in
rude but gigantic structures, which in their form symbolized the God
of his adoration; conquerors humbled themselves as they approached
the precincts which the voice of the Pythoness had consecrated; no
worshipper trod the avenues guarded by the silent, emblematic Sphynx,
except with awe and reverence; and Christ indignantly thrust from
the sacred area of the temple on Mount Zion the money-changers who
had defiled it with their presence. “Thou shalt set bounds to the
people round about,—set bounds to the mount and sanctify it,” was
the injunction of Jehovah from the holy mountain. Among the savage
tribes of North America, none but the pure dared enter the place
dedicated to the rude but significant rites of their religion. In
Peru none except of the blood of the royal Incas, whose father was
the sun, were permitted to pass the walls surrounding the gorgeous
temples of their primitive worship; and the imperial Montezuma humbly
sought the pardon of his insulted gods for venturing to introduce his
unbelieving conqueror within the area consecrated by their shrines.

Analogy would therefore seem to indicate that the structures under
consideration, or at least a large portion of them, were nothing
more than sacred enclosures. If so, it may be inquired, what has
become of the temples and shrines which they [p103] enclosed? It is
very obvious that, unless composed of stone or other imperishable
material, they must long since have completely disappeared, without
leaving a trace of their existence. We find nevertheless, within
these enclosures, the altars upon which the ancient people performed
their sacrifices. We find also pyramidal structures, (as at
Portsmouth, Marietta, and other places,) which correspond entirely
with those of Mexico and Central America, except that, instead of
being composed of stone, they are constructed of earth, and instead
of broad flights of steps, have graded avenues and spiral pathways
leading to their summits. If these pyramidal structures sustained
edifices corresponding to those which crowned the Mexican and Central
American «Teocalli», they were doubtless, in keeping with the
comparative rudeness of their builders, composed of wood; in which
case, it would be in vain, at this day, to look for any positive
traces of their existence.


[36] “I have reason to agree with Stukely, that the circumstance of
the ditch being «within» the vallum is a distinguishing mark between
religious and military works.”—«Sir R. C. Hoare on the Monuments of

[37] Marked J in Map, Plate II.

[38] This work is marked D in the Map, Plate II. Since this
Plate was engraved, it has been ascertained that a plan of this
work was published in the “Portfolio,” in 1809. The two plans
are substantially alike, except that the one in the “Portfolio”
represents the parallels as terminating in a small circle, and
as connected with the large circle,—both of which features are
erroneous. The walls of the parallels are much obliterated, where
they approach the bank of the terrace.

[39] Indicated by the letters B and C, in Map, Plate II.

[40] These works are marked E and F respectively, in Map, Plate II.

[41] Indicated by the letter K, in Map, Plate II.

[42] To put, at once, all skepticism at rest, which might otherwise
arise as to the «regularity» of these works, it should be stated that
they were all carefully surveyed by the authors in person. Of course,
no difficulty existed in determining the perfect regularity of the
squares. The method of procedure, in respect to the circles, was
as follows. Flags were raised at regular and convenient intervals,
upon the embankments, representing stations. The compass was then
placed alternately at these stations, and the bearing of the flag
next beyond ascertained. If the angles thus determined proved to be
coincident, the regularity of the work was placed beyond doubt. The
supplementary plan A indicates the method of survey, the “Field Book”
of which, the circle being thirty-six hundred feet in circumference,
and the stations three hundred feet apart, is as follows:—

   1        N. 75° E.    300 feet.
   2        N. 45° E.    300 feet.
   3        N. 15° E.    300 feet.
   4        N. 15° W.    300 feet.
   5        N. 45° W.    300 feet.
   6        N. 75° W.    300 feet.
   7        S. 75° W.    300 feet.
   8        S. 45° W.    300 feet.
   9        S. 15° W.    300 feet.
   10       S. 15° E.    300 feet.
   11       S. 45° E.    300 feet.
   12       S. 75° E.    300 feet.

[43] Indicated by the letter B, in Map 1, Plate III. This and the
succeeding work are represented by Mr. Atwater in the Archæologia
Americana, vol. i. p. 146; with what fidelity, an inspection of the
respective plans will show.

[44] Indicated by the letter A, in Map 2, Plate III.

[45] Mr. Atwater («Archæologia Americana», vol. i. p. 143) describes
the small mound at «e», as composed “entirely of red ochre, which
answers very well as a paint!” Its «present» composition is a clayey
loam. It has been examined and found to contain an altar.

[46] This work is designated by the letter H on the Map, already
several times referred to, Plate II.

[47] Their general character is indicated in Map, Plate II.

[48] The site of the town of Frankfort was formerly that of a famous
Shawnee town. The burial place of the Indian town is shown in the
plan; from it numerous relics are obtained,—gun-barrels, copper
kettles, silver crosses and brooches, and many other implements and
ornaments which, in accordance with aboriginal custom, were buried
with the dead. Some of them, from being found in close proximity to
the work above described, have erroneously been supposed to appertain
to the race of the mound-builders.

[49] Archæologia Americana, vol. i. p. 142.

[50] This group is indicated by G in the Map, Plate II.

[51] Indicated by A, in Map, Plate II.

[52] The proportions of the circles, etc., are necessarily somewhat
exaggerated in the plan: their relative positions are, however, very
accurately preserved.

[53] There are some singular structures in Sweden, which coincide
very nearly with this remarkable little work. They are circles
composed of upright stones, having short avenues of approach upon
each side, opposite each other, in the manner here represented. See
«Sjöborg’s Samlingar för Nordens Fornälskare», 1822.

[54] A number of plans of these works, as well as of those at
Marietta, have been published; but they are all very defective, and
fail to convey an accurate conception of the group. The map here
given is from an original and very careful and minute survey made
in 1836, by CHAS. WHITTLESEY, Esq., Topographical Engineer of the
State of Ohio, corrected and verified by careful re-surveys and
admeasurements by the authors. It may be relied upon as strictly
correct. A large portion of the more complicated division of the
group has, within the past few years, been almost completely
demolished, so that the lines can no longer be satisfactorily traced.
It is to be hoped that care may be taken to preserve the remainder
from a like fate. The principal structures will always resist the
reducing action of the plough: but, from present indications, the
connecting lines and smaller works will soon be levelled to the
surface, and leave but a scanty and doubtful trace of their former

A sectional map of the Newark valley is given in a subsequent plate,
on which the relative positions of this and other works of the
vicinity are indicated with approximate accuracy.

[55] “Great as some of these works are, and laborious as was their
construction, particularly those of Circleville and «Newark», I am
persuaded «they were never intended for military defences».”—«General
Harrison’s Discourse».

[56] The following passages, embodying some interesting facts
respecting these works, were communicated by I. DILLE, Esq., now and
for many years a resident of Newark:

“You are aware that the principal part of these remains are situated
in the valley between the Raccoon creek and the South fork of
Licking creek. The valley is here nearly two miles wide, from
stream to stream. To the east of the lines of embankment and on the
second bottom of the creek are numerous mounds. Some of these are
very low,—so low, indeed, that a careless observer would hardly
distinguish them from the common surface. Some of them are surrounded
by a low circular wall of earth which, with a little attention,
can be distinctly traced. In the year 1828, when constructing the
canal, a lock was located on the site of one of these low mounds.
In excavating the lock pit, «fourteen» human skeletons were found
about four feet beneath the surface. These were very much decayed,
and supposed by some to have been burnt. It was probably the natural
appearance of decomposition which led to this opinion. On coming
to the air they all mouldered into dust. Over these skeletons, and
carefully and regularly disposed, was laid a large quantity of mica
in sheets or plates. Some of these were eight and ten inches long
by four and five wide, and all from half an inch to an inch thick.
It was estimated that «fifteen or twenty bushels of this material»
were thrown out to form the walls or supports of the lock. From a
mound some four feet high, a few rods to the south of this, a large
«volvaria» (sea-shell) was taken.

“On the opposite side of the creek I found, in one place,
«twenty-four» flint axes, or imperfect arrow-heads. These were found
on the third bottom, on a promontory projecting towards the works
in question. A very great quantity of broken flints were found
here—enough to load a cart. They were of the same variety of flint,
chert, or hornstone, which abounds on ‘Flint Ridge.’ On that ridge
there is the appearance of a great deal of digging. Deep holes cover
the ground for the extent of a mile. Many have supposed that these
were mines of the precious metals, and no small amount of money
and time has been expended in the search. I am of the opinion this
place is the source of all the arrow-heads, flint axes, and other
implements of that material, which have been used over a wide extent
of territory.

“Separate from these valley works, and two miles to the west of them,
is an irregular enclosure on a hill. The walls are of earth about
three feet high, and enclose an area of some thirty or forty acres,
extending from the top to the very foot of a high, long, and sloping
hill. Again, two miles distant in a north-west direction, the summit
of a high hill is surrounded by a similar embankment.”

[57] The map here presented is drawn from a careful survey of these
works, made in 1837, by CHARLES WHITTLESEY, Esq., Topographical
Engineer of the State, under the law authorizing a Geological and
Topographical Survey of Ohio. It has never before been published; and
its fidelity, in every respect, may be relied on. It will be seen
that the supplementary or “small covert way” represented on the plan
in the Archæologia Americana, does not appear. What was taken for
a graded way is simply a gully, worn by the rains. The topography
of the map, and the accompanying sections, are features which every
intelligent inquirer will know how to appreciate.

[58] The description of the two principal truncated pyramids embodies
the substance of an account of the same, published by Dr. S. P.
HILDRETH of Marietta, in the “American Pioneer” for June, 1843,—the
entire fidelity of which has been attested by actual survey.

[59] Such is the result of careful admeasurements made by Dr. JOHN
LOCKE, whose accuracy in matters of this kind, as in all others, is
worthy of emulation.

[60] A very laudable disposition has been manifested, on the part
of the citizens of Marietta, to preserve the interesting remains in
their midst. The Directors of the Ohio Land Company, when they took
possession of the country at the mouth of the Muskingum, in 1788,
adopted immediate measures for the preservation of these monuments.
To their credit be it said, one of their earliest official acts was
the passage of a resolution, which is entered upon the journal of
their proceedings, reserving the two truncated pyramids and the great
mound, with a few acres attached to each, as public squares. They
placed them under the care of the future corporation of Marietta,
directing that they should be embellished with shade trees, when
divested of the forest which then covered them, which trees, it was
added, should be of «native» growth, and of the varieties named in
the resolution. The great mound with its surrounding square was
designated as a cemetery, and placed under the control of trustees.
Ten years ago, these structures being yet unenclosed and much injured
by the rains washing through the paths caused by the cattle that
roamed over them, the citizens raised a sum of money adequate to the
purpose, and fully restored them. The magnificent avenue named, not
inappropriately, by the Directors, “«Sacra Via»,” or Sacred Way,
but now generally known as the “Covered Way,” was also preserved
by a special resolution of the Company, “never to be disturbed or
defaced, as common ground, not to be enclosed.” One of the streets
of Marietta, Warren street, passes through this avenue. It is, of
course, impossible to resist encroachments upon the walls of the
enclosures, which are rapidly disappearing.

Had a similar enlightened policy marked the proceedings of all the
early companies and settlers of the West, we should not now have
occasion to regret the entire obliteration of many interesting
remains of antiquity. Or did a similar disposition exist generally,
there would be less necessity for a careful, systematic, and
«immediate» survey of our remaining monuments. The works at
Chillicothe, Circleville, Cincinnati, and St. Louis, might have
been preserved with all ease: and would have constituted striking
ornaments to those cities, to say nothing of the interest which would
attach to them in other points of view. It is proper to observe, that
the facts embraced in this note were kindly communicated by Dr. S. P.
HILDRETH, of Marietta.

[61] The account of an English adventurer named «Ashe», respecting
some extraordinary remains which he professed to have discovered
here, it is hardly necessary to say, is entitled to no credit
whatever. The remark holds good of similar accounts, by the same
hand, of some of the works at Newark, one hundred miles above, on the
upper tributaries of the Muskingum.

[62] From the Survey and Notes of JAMES MCBRIDE, Esq.

[63] From the Survey and Notes of CHARLES WHITTLESEY, Esq.

[64] From the Plan and Notes of CHARLES WHITTLESEY, Esq.

[65] From the Survey and Notes of JAMES MCBRIDE Esq.

[66] From the Survey and Notes of JAMES MCBRIDE Esq.

[67] “It consists of a ditch dug down to the edge of the river, the
earth from which has been thrown up principally upon the lower or
down river side. The breadth between the parapets is much greater
near the water than at any other point, so that it might have been
used for the purpose of affording a safe passage to the river or as a
sort of harbor in which canoes may have been drawn up or both. This
water way resembles that found at Marietta though smaller.”—«Long’s
Second Expedition», vol. i. p. 60.

[68] The reader is requested to compare the plan of this work given
by Mr. ATWATER in the Archæologia Americana, with the one here

[69] Previous to the entire destruction of this mound, and at the
time when about one half of it remained, it was examined by Mr.
McBride, from whose original notes the following observations
respecting it are taken:

“The mound was composed of rich surface mould, evidently scooped
up from the surface; scattered through which were pebbles and some
stones of considerable size, all of which had been burned. Upon
excavation, we found a skeleton with its head to the east, resting
upon the original surface of the ground, immediately under the apex
of the mound. Some distance above this was a layer of ashes of
considerable extent, and about four inches thick. The skeleton was of
ordinary size; the skull was crushed, and all the bones in extreme
decay. Near the surface were other skeletons. The inhabitants of the
neighborhood tell of a copper band with strange devices, found around
the brow of a skeleton in this mound; and also of a well carved
representation of a tortoise of the same metal, twelve or fourteen
inches in length, found with another skeleton.”

[70] From the Rafinesque MSS.

[71] From the Survey of JAMES MCBRIDE.

[72] The proprietor of this structure, ASHEL AYLESWORTH, Esq., we are
happy to say, has determined to permit no further encroachment upon
it. It is to be hoped that the citizens of Granville will adopt means
to permanently and effectually secure it from invasion.

[73] This work should have been figured on a preceding plate. Its
position, in connection with the effigies here described, was
determined by accidental circumstances.



We are in possession of very little authentic information respecting
the monuments of the Southern United States.[74] All accounts
concur in representing them as very numerous and extensive, and as
characterized by a regularity unknown, or known but to a limited
degree, amongst those which occur further north, on the Ohio and
its tributaries, and upon the Missouri and Upper Mississippi. This
extraordinary regularity, as well as their usually great dimensions,
have induced many to regard them as the work not only of a different
era, but of a different people. Mounds of several stages, closely
resembling the Mexican «Teocalli» in form and size; broad terraces of
various heights; elevated passages and long avenues, are mentioned
among the varieties of ancient structures which abound from Florida
to Texas. The mounds are often disposed with the utmost system in
respect to each other. Around some of the larger ones, others of
smaller size are placed at regular intervals, and at fixed distances.
Some have spiral pathways leading to their tops, and others possess
graded ascents like those at Marietta.[75]

It is to be observed, however, that while mounds are thus abundant,
enclosures are comparatively few, especially those which seem to be
of a military origin. A few have been noticed in South Carolina, on
the Wateree river, which partake of the character of military works,
and of which some account will shortly be given.

The following plans from original and hitherto unpublished surveys
will serve to illustrate, to a limited degree, the character of a
portion of the Southern remains. [p105]

[Illustration: XXXVII. Ancient Works on the Wateree River, Kershaw
District, South Carolina.]


It is unquestionable that the race of the mounds occupied a portion
of the State of South Carolina; and although the traces of their
occupation are far from abundant, they are still sufficiently
numerous to deserve notice. The only reliable information we have
concerning them, is contained in a MS. letter from WILLIAM BLANDING,
M. D., late of Camden, South Carolina, a gentleman distinguished for
his researches in natural history, to SAMUEL GEORGE MORTON, M. D., of
Philadelphia, the eminent author of “«Crania Americana»,” by whose
permission it is embodied in this connection. The observations of
Dr. Blanding were confined to a section of the valley of the Wateree
river, embracing about twenty-five miles in the immediate vicinity of
Camden, and mainly included in the Kershaw district.

“The first monument deserving of notice is ‘Harrison’s Mound’ (A in
the Map). It is the highest in position of any on the river, and is
situated on the west side of the same, in the Fairfield district. It
is about four hundred and eighty feet in circumference at the base,
fifteen feet high, and has a level area one hundred and twenty feet
in circumference at its summit.

“The next relic of antiquity is the ‘Indian Mortar,’ (B in the Map,)
in the Kershaw district. It is a regular bowl-shaped excavation in
a solid block of granite, holding upwards of half a bushel, and is
evidently the work of art. It [p106] was used as a mortar by the
early settlers, and is still devoted to the same purpose. The part of
the rock projecting out of the ground is equivalent to eight or ten

“Next is an old Indian town or camp near the mouth of Beaver creek
(C in the Map). A little below the mouth of the creek is an old
fortification, of oblong form, consisting of a wall and ditch (D in
the Map). The embankment is now not more than three feet high above
the level of the plain. The ditch is distinct. Nearly opposite this
work, on the west side of the river, are the traces of an old Indian
village, remarkable for its arrow-heads, fragments of pottery, etc.

“Proceeding down the river, we come to a point near the head of the
canal, where the land rises to the extraordinary height of five
hundred feet, forming a long, narrow hill. Upon the point of this
hill nearest the river, stands what is called the ‘Indian Grave’
(F in the Map). It is composed of many tons of small round stones,
weighing from one to four pounds each. The pile is thirty feet long
from east to west, twelve feet broad, and five feet high, so situated
as to command an extensive view of the adjacent country, stretching
as far as Rocky Mount, twenty miles above, and for a long distance
below on the river. It may be suggested that this is the elevated
burial-place of some great chief, or that it was designed as some
sort of an observatory. The Catawba Indians can give no account of
it, nor will they venture a conjecture as to its purposes. A mound,
G, is situated opposite this stone heap, on the other side of the
river. The ‘shoals’ in the immediate vicinity seem to have been a
favorite haunt of the ancient and more recent races. Here to this
day is to be found an abundance of fish and game, and the vicinity
is marked by numerous aboriginal relics. Here also is the highest
boundary of the long-leaved pine, and the limit of the alluvial
region. Below, the river becomes sluggish, and during high water
leaves its banks and spreads over large tracts of land.

“The mound next below, H, was two hundred and fifty feet in
circumference at the base, seventy-five feet at the top, and thirteen
feet high. It was situated about a hundred yards from the river on
lands subject to overflow. Three other small mounds surrounded it.
In 1826 it was levelled, and the material used for manuring the
adjacent lands. A part of the treasures which it contained were
saved, but the rest are scattered or destroyed. The mound presented,
upon excavation, a succession of strata, varying in thickness from
six inches to one foot, from top to base. First vegetable loam,
then human and animal bones, followed by charcoal of reeds, vessels
of clay and fragments of the same, (some holding not more than one
pint,) arrow-heads and stone axes, then earth, etc., alternately. In
one small vessel was found a «tag» or needle made of bone, supposed
to have been used in making dresses. Near it was found the skeleton
of a female, tolerably entire, but which fell in pieces on exposure.
A stratum of dark-colored mould was mixed with these articles;
perhaps decomposed animal matter. The superstructure of the mound was
the alluvial loam, and constituted tolerable manure. It was mixed
with great quantities of mica, some pieces three or four inches
square. Marine shells, much decomposed, were found in this as in
other mounds, mixed with the bones, from top to bottom.

“Descending the river, near Mound creek, we come to a large mound, I,
enclosed [p107] in a circle, and accompanied by a smaller one. It is
perhaps the largest and most perfect on the river. It is five hundred
feet in circumference at the base, two hundred and twenty-five feet
in circumference at the summit, and thirty-four feet high,—slightly
oblong. It is covered with stumps, briars, etc., having recently been
brought under cultivation. In April last, while ploughing over the
small mound, an urn was discovered, a sketch of which is enclosed.
It holds forty-six quarts, or nearly twelve gallons. It had a cover
fitting closely over the body for about six inches; this was broken
by the plough. The vessel was curiously ornamented, and is probably
the largest ever discovered in the valley. It contained a number
of large shell beads, much decomposed, about the size and shape of
nutmegs. It also contained another article of the same material,
about the size of a man’s palm, a quarter of an inch thick, and
carved in open work; probably designed for suspension around the neck
as a badge or ornament. The ditch around this mound is slight.

“Still further down the river, upon the opposite side, and some
distance south of the road from Camden to Columbia, is the most
remarkable ancient work in the valley (O). It is called the ‘Indian
Ditch.’ It occurs at the great bend of the river, and consists of an
embankment and ditch carried across the isthmus, cutting off, and,
with the river, enclosing some hundreds of acres of fine alluvial
land. It is about «one mile in length», and the circuit of the river
from one end to the other is between three and four miles. Twenty-one
years ago, when I first visited it, this ditch was about eight feet
deep and the wall of corresponding dimensions: a primitive forest was
then growing upon its southern portion, but it is now all under the
plough and fast disappearing. The bank is «exterior» to the ditch,
which circumstance seems to conflict with the notion that the work
was constructed for defence. It has been suggested, but with no good
reason, that it was designed for a ‘«cut off»’ or artificial channel
for the river. Whatever its purpose, it was a great undertaking for a
rude or savage people.

“On the opposite side of the river, about two hundred yards below the
mouth of Pine-tree creek, is a group of mounds, surrounded by a low
embankment (J). One of them has been nearly washed away by the river,
and the others have been much reduced by cultivation. The largest is
yet twelve or fifteen feet high, with a very wide base. From these
mounds are disclosed arrow-heads, axes, urns, and other vestiges of
art, accompanied by human bones and the bones of wild animals, and
marine shells, all much decayed. As the water washes away the side
of the mound on its bank, charcoal, urns, bones, etc., in successive
strata, are exposed; as though it had constituted a cemetery,
receiving deposits from time to time, from its commencement to its
completion. The strata vary in thickness from six to eighteen inches,
and are mixed with much mica, sometimes in large plates. It was long
under cultivation in corn, then indigo, and in 1806, when I first saw
it, in cotton, which is still cultivated on it. On the large mound
stood the overseer’s house; around it, on the smaller piles, were the
negro quarters.

“In the bend of the river nearly opposite the south end of the
‘Indian Ditch,’ is a mound, perhaps fifteen feet high (K). Little
is known respecting it, having been for many years the site of an
overseer’s house. I obtained a circular stone, [p108] with concave
sides and finely polished, which had been found here, also two
large urns, one holding twelve, the other twenty quarts, with a
number of other aboriginal relics. At the mouth of Town creek, some
distance below, there was formerly, no doubt, an Indian town or
camp, (L,) judging from the quantity of relics found here. A very
fine description of clay is found at this spot, which is resorted to
by the Catawba Indians every spring and autumn, for the purpose of
manufacturing pottery from it.

“Boykin’s mound (M) is one mile lower down the river upon the same
bank. It is now nearly washed away by the river. Twenty years ago,
when I first saw it, large trees covered it, and it was entire. Four
years afterwards I visited it, when only about one third remained,
which on the side next the river beautifully exhibited the various
strata composing it. It had the usual layers of earth, pottery,
charred reeds, etc. Some few of the vases were entire, containing
fragments of bones, and were well arranged in tiers, one above the

“Last of the series is Nixon’s mound (N). It is much reduced, and
is not now more than ten feet high. From this to the sea I know of
no similar relics. Paint hill and Kirkwood, in the neighborhood of
Pine-tree creek, must have been much frequented, judging from the
numerous relics occurring on and around them; the former for its pure
water, the latter for its fine clay. Hobkirk’s hill, near Camden,
abounds in aboriginal relics. I have procured several large pipes
from these localities, all of which exhibit a skill in workmanship
surpassing that of the present race. The entire section in which the
above remains occur is exceedingly fertile, and capable of sustaining
a large agricultural population.”

 PLATE XXXVIII. No. 1.[76]

This work occurs within the present limits of the State of Alabama,
upon the banks of Etowah river, a branch of the Coosa. It is situated
upon an alluvial “bottom,” at an angle or bend of the stream; and
its defences consist of a semi-circular ditch, the flanks of which
rest on the river. This ditch is twenty-five [p109] or thirty
feet in width, by eight feet in depth; and is interrupted by no less
than seven passage-ways, placed at irregular intervals, and formed
by leaving the earth unexcavated at the points where they occur.
It is a remarkable fact that no embankment accompanies the ditch;
although the work is not entirely singular in that respect. Within
the enclosure thus formed by the river on the one hand and the ditch
on the other, are several mounds, one of which is of great size and
extraordinary character. It measures upwards of seventy-five feet
in height, and is twelve hundred feet in circumference at its base.
It is truncated, the area at its summit having a diameter of one
hundred and forty feet. A graded avenue, which may be ascended on
horseback, leads to its top from the east. Upon its northern and
southern sides, at the height of forty feet, are triangular platforms
or terraces, which are also reached by graded ascents from the plain.
The supplementary plan A exhibits the outlines of the monument. Upon
its top, trees are growing, which, at the height of a man’s head from
the ground, measure little under eleven feet in circumference. A
fallen oak measured by Mr. Cornelius in 1818 was found to be, at the
distance of six feet from the branching of the roots, «twelve feet
four inches in circumference», exclusive of the bark. There are two
other truncated mounds, to the south-west of the great mound, but of
less dimensions. One of these has a perpendicular altitude of thirty
feet; and its summit was fortified, with a parapet and palisades, by
the Cherokees in their war with the Creeks. The earth taken from the
ditch above mentioned was probably used in the construction of these

[Illustration: XXXVIII. Ancient Works:

No. 1. On the Etowah River, Alabama.

No. 2. Chickasaw Surveys, Lafayette Co. Mississippi.

No. 3. On Clear Creek in Lafayette Co. Mississippi.

No. 4. Prairie Jefferson, Moorhouse Parish, Louisiana.]

[Illustration: Fig. 21.]

An analogous work of some interest, (Fig. 21,) but partially
destroyed by the Tennessee river, upon the bank of which it stands,
occurs near the town of Florence, in Alabama. “It consists of a large
mound, hexagonal in form, truncated, and forty-five feet in height by
four hundred and forty feet in circumference at the base. The level
area at the summit is one hundred and fifty feet in circumference. It
appears to be composed of the ordinary surface loam, and is carried
up with great regularity. So far as it has yet been examined, no
traces of bones or other foreign substances have been discovered.

“Partly surrounding the mound is a wall two hundred and seventy feet
distant from its base, which extends from the main river below, to
a branch formed by Cane island above, constituting a segment of a
circle, the centre of which would be in the Tennessee river. The wall
is about forty feet across the top, and, making allowances for the
ravages of time, must have been originally from twelve to fifteen
feet high; it is now about eight feet in height. The mound and wall
bear the same marks of antiquity, both being covered with large
timber of the same age and description with that found growing on the
surrounding lands. The wall has what appears to be a ditch on the
outside. [p110]

“These works are situated on the river bottom, and are half
surrounded by a very high ridge, which runs parallel to the Tennessee
river, about four hundred yards distant. This ridge, upon which the
principal part of the town of Florence is situated, overlooks and
entirely commands the whole. The mound, with its surrounding wall,
thus situated and exposed to attack, could hardly have been designed
as a place of defence. It must have been appropriated to another

 PLATE XXXVIII. Nos. 2 and 3.

These works are specially interesting from the fact that they partake
more of the character of the works in the valley of the Ohio, than
any other southern structures with which we are acquainted. The
accompanying descriptions were furnished by Rev. R. MORRIS, of Mount
Sylvan Academy, Lafayette county, Mississippi; the plans are from
surveys by the same gentleman.

NUMBER 2.—“This work is situated in T. 4 S., R. 7 W., of the
Chickasaw surveys, five miles south-east of the Tallahatchie river.
It occupies a point of high land, overlooking the valley of a small
creek, and consists of a simple embankment of earth, about three feet
in height, with an exterior ditch of corresponding dimensions. It is
a polygon in form, and at first glance appears entirely irregular.
It will be observed, however, that the line «c d» corresponds
in length with «h i», and also that «e f» is exactly equal to
«f h»,—coincidences which could not possibly be accidental. The side
«c s j», fronting on the creek, is not entrenched, being sufficiently
protected by the high bluff bank. There are no interruptions in the
embankment, the ends of which terminate within a short distance of
the bluff on the right, leaving passage-ways fifteen or twenty feet
wide. A ditch, however, extends from «i» to «j», at the south-east
angle; but it is a question whether it was not formed by the water
overflowing the artificial ditch at «i». The angles of this work
are not rounded, but sharp as if newly dug. There are two points,
(indicated by the letter «s» on the plan,) one on a spur of land
within the enclosure, and the other at the extreme point of the
headland on which the work is situated, where there are excavations
from which the earth is thrown up on the outer side. They resemble
short sections of the wall and ditch, and suggest the notion of
sentry posts, or signal or alarm stations.

“Within the work are several low, irregular mounds, all of which are
flat on the top, except «k», which is basin-shaped, the concavity
being about two feet deep by fifteen across. Excavations, at any
point around these mounds, disclose ashes, [p111] charcoal, and
sooty earth; the charcoal is of oak-wood and very bright. Abundant
fragments of the black pottery, glazed inside, and so common in this
region, are found in and around this work. At the time of my visit,
I found several arrow-heads and a wedge-shaped stone. A few years
ago a carved pipe was found here and a piece of heavy metal, which
was tested for gold and afterwards mislaid. Inasmuch, however, as
the Indians lately occupied this ground in great numbers for several
years, these minor relics may be regarded as having pertained to them.

“The bluffs around this work are of extraordinary height for this
region, and the whole position seems well designed for defence.
The regularity and apparent «freshness» of the structure, and its
correspondence, in some striking respects, to our modern system of
defence, almost induce me to ascribe to it an European origin. This
supposition is further favored by the well known fact that Hernando
de Soto passed through here, and probably erected works at various

NUMBER 3.—“This work is situated on the left bank of Clear creek,
near Mount Sylvan, Lafayette county, Mississippi. It occupies a high
point of land, overlooking the creek bottom; upon the right is a
bluff bank, forty feet high; towards the north the ground is somewhat
broken, and upon the left it slopes gradually to a hollow. There are
no hills or elevated points commanding the work within a mile or
more. The ground within the enclosure is level.

“The structure itself is quadrangular in form, and consists of a
slight embankment of earth, about three feet high by thirty feet
broad at the base, and twelve feet broad on the top. It has no ditch,
exterior or interior to the embankment, although upon «both sides»
there are evidences of the removal of the earth, leaving slight
depressions, as shown in the section. At the gateway G, the original
level of the ground is preserved. Various forest-trees are growing
upon the walls, consisting of black oak and hickory,—some of the
oaks are upwards of eighteen inches in diameter. At the foot of the
bluffs, to the right of the work, are numerous and copious springs of

“There are no mounds within the enclosure; although there are two a
little way outside of the walls, occupying the positions indicated
in the plan.[78] The one nearest the gateway, number 1, has trees
growing upon it, twenty inches in diameter. Fragments of pottery
are scattered in abundance upon and around it. Mound number 2 I
have carefully examined. It is situated upon sloping ground, and is
perhaps one foot high on the upper, and three feet on the lower side,
by twenty feet base. In the centre is a regular concavity one foot
deep and twelve feet across; and in this respect it is different
from any I have elsewhere observed. The first excavation was made
upon the lower side, where were found several [p112] arrows, a
human skeleton, (a mature subject,) and a large quantity, nearly a
half bushel, of coarse pottery. It is of the same kind with that
so abundant in the Clear creek valley, where it would be easy to
fill a cart in a day. None of the vessels were whole; and I may
here remark that I have not been able to recover any of the pottery
entire,—all, not excepting the clay pipes, are invariably broken.
Among the fragments of pottery was found a piece of hard-burned clay,
resembling in form a sweet potato, split longitudinally. The next
excavation was made in the centre or lowest part of the concavity
above mentioned. The removal of the vegetable accumulation disclosed
a layer of yellow clay, four inches thick; beneath which, and nearly
upon the original level of the earth, was found a hard-burned
stratum, perfectly black, and apparently mingled with ashes. It
was with difficulty broken up. Beneath this hearth was a spongy
unstratified mass, in which, to the depth of six inches, were mingled
fragments of earthenware. Beyond this, nothing was discovered. There
were no traces of bones upon the hearth, and but few fragments of
pottery. Large trees are growing upon this mound.

“Mound number 3 is about four feet high, and is situated upon the
creek bottom, not far from the stream. I opened it nearly a year
since. About two feet from the surface was found the skeleton of
a child, much decayed, and unaccompanied by remains of any sort.
A little below the surface was found a stone tool, resembling a
carver’s flesh knife, and a leaden ounce bullet. There is much
pottery upon and around this mound; but little, if any, within it.
It was not thoroughly excavated; but so far as examined there were
discovered no traces of fire,—it being, in this respect, peculiar.
Every other mound which I have investigated has been found to contain
ashes and charcoal.”

Whether either of the works above described had a military origin
is sufficiently doubtful; although the last named has some of the
characteristics of a work of defence. There is nothing, however, in
its position or structure so different from hundreds of other works
as to warrant us in assigning to it a later date or a different
origin. As a military work, it is vastly inferior to many with which
we are acquainted, and its regularity is not sufficiently marked to
entitle it to any special consideration on that account. It clearly
belongs to that great family of remains, of which so many examples
have already been presented. Throughout the entire field of their
occurrence, these maintain certain characteristic features, some of
which are well exhibited in the particular work here mentioned.

Had Hernando de Soto erected one tenth of the works which have been
ascribed to him, in the States bordering the Gulf, in Tennessee, and
even in Kentucky, he must have found ample demands on his time and
exertions. It is most likely, however, that the intervals between
his tedious and toilsome marches were occupied more profitably, if
not less laboriously, than in the erection of vast earth structures
of this description; which, when finished, could not possibly have
served him any useful purpose. His handful of weary followers
probably found in a small stockade of logs a better defence, and one
more obviously within their capabilities of construction.

In addition to the above plans, Mr. Morris has kindly communicated
accounts of several other interesting works; of none of which,
however, he was able to [p113] make surveys. One of these is
situated three miles east of Panola, Mississippi, and closely
resembles No. 3, Plate XXXVIII. It is accompanied by several
remarkable mounds. A few miles south-east of Delta there is a square
enclosure of some twenty acres area. It contains several mounds, one
of which is forty feet in height, truncated, and ascended by a graded
way. Within this enclosure there is also a square excavation, fifteen
feet deep, and one hundred feet in diameter. It is surrounded by a
low embankment of earth, three feet in height.


This group of ancient works occurs on Prairie Jefferson, Moorhouse
parish, Louisiana. They are minutely described by Prof. C. G.
FORSHEY, in a letter to Prof. Silliman of New Haven, published, with
the accompanying plan, in the American Journal of Science and Arts,
vol. xlix. p. 38. For some interesting facts in addition to this
account, acknowledgment is due to Dr. HARRISON, proprietor of the
plantation upon which these remains are situated.

The works, consisting of a series of mounds and terraces, accompanied
by lines of embankment and by excavations, are found near the
south-western portion of the prairie, and partly in what is now
woodland, though probably at no very remote date free from forests.
The mounds are disposed with some degree of regularity in respect to
each other, and are of the following dimensions:

             length,  width,  height,
              feet     feet    feet
 A. base,      180      135      48
 A. summit,     51       45
 B. summit,    210       75       5
 C. base,      132      132       4
 D. summit,    120      120       4
 E. summit,     60       42      10

                length,  length,  length,  length,
                 feet     feet     feet     feet
                 front    rear     wide     high
 F. on summit,     60       78       42       12
 G. on summit,     60       39       51       12
 H. on summit,     60       60       54        7
 I. on summit,     36       27       45       10

The embankment between E and F is one hundred and thirty-five feet
long, fifteen feet broad at the base, and four high. The embankment
«j k l» is ten hundred and fifty feet long, twelve feet broad and
from one to three feet high.

The great mound E has been denominated “the Temple.” It has a level
area on its summit fifty-one feet long and forty-five broad, which is
reached from the west by the winding graded path X. All its angles
are much rounded; still its four faces are very plainly marked. Since
it has been cleared of trees, several [p114] slides have marred
its symmetry. These slides, as also excavations made in it, have
shown that it consists of a series of strata or tables, one above
the other, each surmounted by a burned surface, resembling rude
bricks. No bones have been found in it. Any extended examination of
its contents is avoided, from a desire to preserve its proportions.
From the summit a good view may be had of the surrounding works and

The mounds which face the “Temple” on the west have great uniformity
of figure and dimensions, and are highest in the rear, except E and
I, which are nearly level on top. E, F, H, and I, have terraces in
front; and all incline gently to the plain, which exhibits marks of
excavation. In the rear and on the sides they are for the most part
very abrupt. The pond in the rear is evidently artificial, and formed
by removing the earth for building purposes. Extending around this
pond are an embankment and ditch, («j k l»,) the latter produced by
the excavation of the earth for the embankment, which seems to have
constituted a sort of levée around the pond to the high grounds at
«j» and «l».

“The mounds C, D have great similarity in their magnitude, form,
and general position in respect to the “Temple;” but situated, as
they are, in cultivated fields, their definite outlines are fast
disappearing. B, however, differs essentially from the other mounds
of the system; it is perfectly level on its summit, of gentle
declivity and moderate height, and has been fitly chosen as the site
of a dwelling-house, which fronts the area surrounded by the mounds.

“The several ponds have outlets for the water at particular points,
which were probably controlled as the mound-builders desired.
The long embankment («m n o») is abruptly cut off at «o», but is
continued again towards «p», diminishing in magnitude as the land
grows higher, until it almost disappears at «s». The swale or low
strip of ground which borders this embankment on the left, continues
up to very near the pond at «s», but has no actual connection with
it. It does not appear that the large pond, within this grand levée,
is artificial. The smaller ones, however, were manifestly produced by
throwing up the earth around them, as at «m n»; «s»; «t u», and «v w».

“The necessity for these artificial ponds is apparent from the fact,
that there are no streams or supplies of water nearer this prairie
than five miles. Hence the excavations, usually made without apparent
design in constructing the mounds, are at this place so economized
as to produce the ponds in the immediate neighborhood. Here the
conformation of the ground, which is gently undulating, rendered it
easy to construct large ponds or lakes, to contain a perennial supply
of water. This has plainly been the object of the extensive levées or
embankments traced in the map. The general inclination of the land is
southward, and the drains in its surface were with some skill called
into aid.”

A similar mode of retaining a supply of water has already been
remarked, in the case of a fortified hill, in Ohio. (See page 15.)
The ancient inhabitants of Central America resorted to the same
method. Their «aguadas», lined with pavements and enclosed by
embankments, are among the most interesting remains of ancient art.

[Illustration: XXXIX. Ancient Monuments, Madison Parish, Louisiana.]


The accompanying plans are from original surveys made by JAMES HOUGH,
Esq., of Hamilton, Ohio, for Mr. MCBRIDE, and may, it is believed, be
relied upon as entirely accurate, in every essential respect.[79]

The group here presented is situated upon the right bank of Walnut
Bayou, in Madison Parish, Louisiana, seven miles from the Mississippi
river. It consists of seven large and regular mounds, and a graded
or elevated road-way half a mile in length. The plan exhibits the
relative positions of the remains and their predominating features,
and obviates the necessity of a particular description, which at best
would be intricate and obscure.

The largest mound of the group, A, is distant two hundred and fifty
yards south from the «bayou», which here extends in a direction
nearly east and west. The principal structure is two hundred and
twenty-five feet long, by one hundred and sixty-five feet broad at
the base, and thirty feet in height. The summit is level, presenting
an area of one hundred and twenty feet long, by seventy-five broad.
On the side next the «bayou» towards the north, at the height of ten
feet, is a terrace ten feet wide and extending the entire length
of the mound. On the south side is a road-way twenty feet wide,
commencing at a point sixty feet from the base of the mound, and
leading with a regular grade to its top. At either end of the mound
is an inclined platform or «apron», seventy-five feet long by sixty
wide. These are six feet in elevation at the point joining the mound,
but decline gradually to three feet at the outer ends, where they
terminate abruptly.

B is a mound similar to the one just described, but less in size. It
is one hundred and eighty feet long, one hundred and twenty broad,
and fifteen high. The level area on the top is one hundred and twenty
feet long and sixty wide. A graded road leads to its summit from the
north. At the east end is an inclined platform, seventy feet long by
sixty broad, eight feet high where it joins the mound, and sloping
to five feet at its outer extremity. At the west end is a similar
elevation one hundred and twenty feet long by sixty broad.

C is a singular work, consisting of a central mound ninety-six feet
square at the base, and ten feet high, with a level area forty-eight
feet square on the top. Connected by elevated terraces with this
mound, are two others of similar construction, [p116] each sixty
feet square and eight feet high. The terraces are forty feet broad,
four high, and one hundred and twenty-five and seventy-five feet long

The character and dimensions of the remaining mounds are sufficiently
indicated in the plan. There is however another singular structure
connected with the group, which deserves special notice. It consists
of a terrace extending due west from the principal mound above
described, parallel to the «bayou». It is elevated three feet above
the general level of the plain, and is seventy-five feet wide by
two thousand seven hundred feet in length. Upon either side of this
terrace, and parallel to it, are broad excavations, at present about
three feet deep. These excavations are not far from two thousand
feet long, by from one hundred and fifty to three hundred feet wide.
There are no other perceptible excavations in the vicinity; and it is
reasonable to conclude that most, if not all of the material for the
construction of the works was taken from these points.

The ground occupied by these remains is for the most part under
cultivation. It was originally covered with a heavy growth of the
black walnut, a species of timber scarcely known on the alluvial
lands of the Mississippi, so far south. It was first cleared by a
Mr. Harper, in 1827. Broken pottery is found in abundance around
these monuments; and fragments of human bones, much decomposed, are
observed intermixed with the earth. Upon the mounds, in many places,
the earth is much burned. There are no other remains of magnitude in
the immediate vicinity.

[Illustration: Fig. 22.]

The works here represented, Fig. 22, are situated in Bolivar county,
Mississippi, near Williams’s «bayou» in the Choctaw bend, one mile
and a half from the Mississippi river. They consist of two truncated
pyramidal structures of the character already described, accompanied
by two small conical mounds, the whole surrounded by a circular
embankment of earth, without a ditch, two thousand three hundred
feet in circumference, and four feet high. A gateway opens into the
enclosure from the east. Mound A is one hundred and fifty feet square
at the base, seventy-five feet square on top, and twenty feet high,
with a graded ascent from the east. B is one hundred and thirty-five
feet square at base, fifty feet at top, and fifteen feet high. The
ascent in this instance is from the north. The two small conical
mounds are about thirty feet in diameter, and five feet high. The
sides of the pyramidal structures do not vary two degrees from the
cardinal points [p117] of the compass; a feature not observed in any
of the others above noticed. They all, however, appear to have been
placed with some reference to these points,—probably as near as they
could be located without instruments.

At the junction of the Washita, Tenza, and Catahoola rivers in
Louisiana, is a most remarkable group of ancient remains, of which
no plan has yet been published. They have nevertheless been often
referred to, and are described as consisting of a number of mounds,
some rectangular and others round, embraced within a large enclosure
of not far from two hundred acres area.[80] The principal mound is
said to be circular, four hundred feet in diameter at the base,
ninety feet in height, truncated, and having a level area at its
summit, fifty feet in diameter. The summit is reached by a spiral
pathway, which winds with an easy ascent around the mound, from
its base to its top. This pathway is sufficiently broad to permit
two horsemen to ride abreast. From the summit a wide prospect is
commanded. Here, upon penetrating the earth to a slight depth, strong
traces of fire are visible. The ground upon which the mound stands
is somewhat elevated above the surrounding plain, which is low and

The great mound at Seltzertown, near Washington, Mississippi, is one
of very singular construction. It consists of a truncated pyramid six
hundred feet long by about four hundred broad at its base, covering
nearly six acres of ground. Its sides correspond very nearly with the
four cardinal points, its greatest length being from east to west. It
is forty feet in perpendicular height; and is surrounded [p118] by
a ditch at its base, of variable dimensions, but averaging perhaps
ten feet in depth. It is ascended by graded avenues. The area on the
top embraces about four acres. Near each of the ends, and as nearly
as may be in the longitudinal centre of the elevation, is placed
a large conical mound. The one towards the west is represented to
be not far from forty feet in height, and truncated, with a level
area at its summit of thirty feet diameter. The opposite mound is
somewhat less in size, and is also truncated. Eight other mounds are
regularly placed at various points; they are of comparatively small
size, measuring from eight to ten feet in height. The ground here is
considerably broken; and it has been supposed by some, from the fact
that it slopes in every direction from the base of the monument, that
the structure is simply a natural elevation modified and fashioned
into its present form by the hands of man.[82] Human bones have been
exposed by the washing away of the sides of this structure.

The above examples, it is believed, may be taken as very fair
illustrations of the general form and external characteristics of
the Southern monuments. There are no perfect pyramids. With the
exception of a portion, probably the larger portion, of the conical
mounds, which are abundant, but overshadowed by the more remarkable
structures which surround them, «all» appear to be truncated, and to
have, in most instances, graded ascents to their tops. As already
remarked, they do not seem to have been connected with any military
system,—their form and structure, so far as developed, pointing to a
religious origin. Some have been noticed as having parapets raised
on their summits, as if to protect the area in case of assault; and
hence it has been concluded that the larger elevations were “forts”
or citadels. This feature was observed in many of the Teocalli
of the Mexicans. It is possible that they may have been designed
secondarily for defence. That the Mexicans fought with the greatest
determination around the bases of their temples, from their terraces
and their summits, we have abundant evidence in the records of the
conquerors. However well these elevations may have served for places
of retreat in case of sudden attack, it is obvious that they were
in no wise adapted to resist anything like a regular siege or a
continued investment. The absence of sources for procuring water,
and the narrow compass to which the besieged must necessarily be
limited, seem sufficient in themselves to [p119] successfully combat
this hypothesis. The defensive works on the Ohio, on the contrary,
possess all the requisites for resisting an enemy and for sustaining
a protracted defence.

We must seek therefore in the contents, as well as in the form and
position of these works, for the secret of their origin and purposes.
And it is at this stage of our inquiry, that the lack of a systematic
and extended investigation, conducted on philosophical principles,
is most sensibly felt. Some of these structures, it is stated, where
their formation is disclosed by slides or the wasting action of the
rivers, exhibit alternate layers or «platforms» of earth and burned
clay, from base to summit. Others are represented as having alternate
layers of earth and human bones in various stages of decomposition.
And others still, we are assured, have various horizontal strata of
earth and sand, upon which are deposited at various points human
remains, implements, pottery, and ornaments. Many of the remains of
art exhibit great skill in their construction, more especially the
pottery and articles of similar composition. The conical mounds, so
far as we are informed, have many features in common with those of a
higher latitude. How far the coincidences between them may be traced
can only be settled by future inquiries.

From what has been presented above, it will readily be seen that it
is impossible, with our present limited knowledge concerning them,
to form anything like a determinate or satisfactory conclusion
respecting the numerous and remarkable remains of the South. The
immense mounds that abound there may be vast sepulchres in which
the remains of generations were deposited; they may have been the
temples and “high places” of a superstitious people, where rites
were celebrated and sacrifices performed; or, they may have answered
as the places of last resort, where, when pursued by foes, the
ancient people fled to receive the support of their gods and to
defend the altars of their religion. Perhaps all of these purposes
were subserved by them. What significance may attach to their form;
whether there exists any dependence between their exterior features
and their contents; the dates of the different deposits found in
them; indeed, whatever of design and system which these works may
have possessed, and how far they may serve to reflect light upon the
character and customs of the people who built them, their religion,
their modes of burial, and their arts,—«all» remain to be determined
by careful and systematic investigation, conducted with a view to
develop facts rather than to excite wonder. Such an investigation
must also finally determine whether these are the remains of the same
people whose works are scattered through the more northern States,
and whether they were probably contemporaneous in their origin;
and, if the works are of the same people, and not contemporaneous,
whether the course of migration was southward or the reverse; whether
the less imposing structures of the Ohio are the remains of a ruder
and more warlike but progressive people, or the weaker efforts of
a colony, pressed by foes and surrounded by difficulties. It may
disclose the curious and important fact, that upon the Ohio and
Mississippi first originated those elements which afterwards, in a
regular course of progress, developed themselves in the gorgeous
semi-civilization of Mexico and Peru. Or it may, on the contrary,
make known the no less interesting fact, that from these centres
radiated colonies, which sustained [p120] themselves for a period,
and finally disappeared, leaving perhaps only a few modified remnants
in the region bordering upon the Gulf.

       *       *       *       *       *

Subsequent to the preparation of the foregoing pages for the press,
and at too late a date to permit the introduction, in another
connection, of the facts it embodies relating to the aboriginal
monuments of the South, a manuscript work on the Southern Indians, by
WILLIAM BARTRAM, was placed in the hands of the investigators, by Dr.
Morton, of Philadelphia. The character and history of this MS. have
been sufficiently explained in the Preface, to which the reader is

As already observed, it relates principally to the manners, customs,
government, and religion of the Muscogulges and other southern Indian
tribes; but it also embraces many interesting and important facts
respecting the remains under consideration. Taken in connection with
those presented by the same author in his “Travels in North America,”
they serve very much to explain the character and illustrate the
secondary if not the primary purposes to which the southern monuments
were applied. The accompanying illustrations are reduced fac-similes
of Bartram’s original pen sketches. In introducing them he observes,
in language somewhat quaint but forcible:

“The following rough drawings of the ancient Indian monuments,
consisting of public buildings, areas, vestiges of towns, etc., will
serve to illustrate what I have elsewhere said respecting them. They
are, to the best of my remembrance, as near the truth as I could
express. However, if I have in any respect erred, I hope my mistakes
may be corrected by the observations of future and more accurate
and industrious travellers. But as time changes the face of things,
I wish they could be searched out and faithfully recorded, before
the devastations of artificial refinements, ambition, and avarice,
totally deface these simple and most ancient remains of the American

“CHUNK YARDS.—The ‘Chunk Yards’ of the Muscogulges or Creeks are
rectangular areas, generally occupying the centre of the town. The
Public Square and Rotunda, or Great Winter Council House, stand at
the two opposite corners of them. They are generally very extensive,
especially in the large, old towns: some of them are from six hundred
to nine hundred feet in length, and of proportionate breadth. The
area is exactly level and sunk two, sometimes three, feet below the
banks or terraces surrounding them, which are occasionally two in
number, one behind and above the other, and composed of the earth
taken from the area at the time of its formation. These banks or
terraces serve the purpose of seats for spectators. In the centre of
this yard or area, there is a low, circular mound or eminence, in
the middle of which stands erect the ‘Chunk Pole,’ which is a high
obelisk or four-square pillar declining upwards to an obtuse point.
This is of wood, the heart or inward resinous part of a sound pine
tree, which is very [p121] durable. It is generally from thirty to
forty feet in height, and to the top is fastened some object which
serves as a mark to shoot at, with arrows or the rifle, at certain
appointed times. Near each corner of one end of the yard, stands
erect a less pole or pillar, about twelve feet high, called a ‘Slave
Post,’ for the reason that to them are bound the captives condemned
to be burnt. These posts are usually decorated with the scalps of
slain enemies, suspended by strings from the top. They are often
crowned with the white dry skull of an enemy.

“It thus appears that this area is designed for a public place of
exhibition, for shows, games, etc. Formerly, there is little doubt,
most barbarous and tragical scenes were enacted within them, such as
the torturing and burning of captives, who were here forced to run
the gauntlet, bruised and beaten with sticks and burning chunks of
wood. The Indians do not now practise these cruelties; but there are
some old traders who have witnessed them in former times. I inquired
of these traders for what reason these areas were called ‘«Chunk
Yards»;’ they were in general ignorant, yet, for the most part,
concurred in a lame story that it originated in the circumstance of
their having been places of torture, and that the name was but an
interpretation of the Indian term designating them.

“I observed none of these yards in use in any of the Cherokee towns;
and where I have mentioned them, in the Cherokee country, it must
be understood that I saw only the remains or vestiges of them among
the ruins of ancient towns. In the existing Cherokee towns which I
visited, although there were ancient mounds and signs of the yard
adjoining, yet the yard was either built upon or turned into a garden
plat, or otherwise appropriated. Indeed I am convinced that the Chunk
Yards now or lately in use among the Creeks are of very ancient date,
and not the work of the present Indians; although they are now kept
in repair by them, being swept very clean every day, and the poles
kept up and decorated in the manner I have described.

“The following plan, (Fig. 23,) will illustrate the form and
character of these yards.

[Illustration: Fig. 23.]

“A. The great area, surrounded by terraces or banks.

“B. A circular eminence, at one end of the yard, commonly nine or
ten feet higher than the ground round about. Upon this mound stands
the great «Rotunda», «Hot House», or «Winter Council House» of the
present Creeks. It was probably designed and used by the ancients who
constructed it, for the same purpose.

“C. A square terrace or eminence, about the same height with the
circular one just described, occupying a position at the other end of
the yard. Upon this stands the «Public Square».

“The banks enclosing the yard are indicated by the letters «b b b b»;
«c» indicates the ‘«Chunk Pole»,’ and «d d» the ‘«Slave Posts».’

“Sometimes the square, instead of being open at the ends, as shown in
the plan, is closed upon all sides by the banks. In the lately built
or new Creek towns, they do not raise a mound for the foundation of
their rotundas or public squares. The yard, however, is retained, and
the public buildings occupy nearly the same position in respect to
it. They also retain the central obelisk and the slave posts.

“In the Cherokee country, all over Carolina and the northern and
eastern parts of Georgia, wherever the ruins of ancient Indian
towns appear, we see always, besides these remains, one last,
conical, pointed mound. To mounds of this kind I refer, when I speak
of «pyramidal mounds». To the south and west of the Altamaha, I
observed none of these, in any part of the Muscogulge country, but
always flat circular or square structures. The vast mounds upon
the St. John’s, Alachua, and Musquito rivers, differ from those
among the Cherokees, with respect to their adjuncts and appendages,
particularly in respect to the great highway or avenue, sunk below
the common level of the earth, extending from them, and terminating
either in a vast savannah or natural plain, or an artificial pond or
lake. A remarkable example occurs at Mount Royal, from whence opens a
glorious view of Lake George and its environs.

[Illustration: Fig. 24.]

[Illustration: Fig. 25.]

“Fig. 24 exhibits a view of the great mound last referred to. Fig.
25 is a plan of the same structure with its accompanying avenue,
which leads off to an artificial lake or pond, on the verge of an
expansive savannah or natural meadow. A, the mound, about forty feet
in perpendicular height; B, the highway leading from the mound in
a straight line to the pond C, about half a mile distant. What may
have been the motive for making this pond I cannot conjecture, since
the mound and other vestiges of the ancient town are situated close
on the banks of the river St. Juan.[83] It could not therefore be
for the conveniency of water. Perhaps they raised the mound with
the earth taken out of the pond. The sketch of this mound also
illustrates the character of the mounds in the Cherokee country; but
the last have not the highway or avenue, and are always accompanied
by vast square terraces [p123] placed upon one side or the other. On
the other hand, we never see the square terraces accompanying the
high mounds of East Florida.”

From the above quotations it appears that, less than one century ago,
a portion of the monuments of the South were in actual use by the
Indians. It will be observed, however, that our authority ascribes
their construction to an anterior race and assigns to them a high
antiquity. In his Travels he remarks that the region in which they
are most abundant, lying between the Savannah and Ockmulgee rivers
on the east and west, and between the sea-coast on the south and
the Apalachian mountains on the north, was occupied subsequently
to the arrival of Europeans, by the Cherokees, who were afterwards
dispossessed by the Creeks; that “all this country was probably, many
ages preceding the Cherokee invasion, inhabited by a single nation
or confederacy governed by common laws, possessing like customs, and
speaking the same language, but so ancient that neither the Creeks
nor the Cherokees, nor the nations they conquered, could render any
account by whom or for what purposes these monuments were erected.”
He nevertheless inclines to the belief, and not without reason, that
the uses to which these structures were appropriated, by the existing
Indian tribes, were not widely different from those for which they
were originally constructed. Upon this point he adds: “The mounds
and large areas adjoining them seem to have been raised in part for
ornament and recreation, and likewise to serve some other public
purpose, since they are always so situated as to command the most
extensive prospect over the country adjacent. The square terraces may
have served as the foundations of fortresses; and perhaps the great
pyramidal mounds answered the purpose of look-outs, or were high
places for sacrifice.”[84]

Whatever date or origin we may ascribe to these monuments, we cannot
overlook the singular attachment to the square and the circle
exhibited by the Creeks in the public edifices known to have been
constructed by themselves. That these forms had some significance
at the outset can hardly be doubted, although their perpetuation
may have depended upon custom. The circumstance that the eternal
fire was only maintained in the circular structure, designated by
Bartram as the “Rotunda,” goes far to support the conclusion that
its form was symbolical, and referred to the sun. That these tribes
were sun worshippers is well known: the inferences drawn from analogy
are therefore sustained by collateral facts. In their less imposing
structures, may we not discern the type of the great circles and
squares of Ohio,—the traces of a system of idolatry which has dotted
the valleys of the West with giant temples, symbolizing in their form
the nature of the worship to which they were dedicated?


[74] The inability to add very largely to our stock of information
respecting the monuments of the Southern United States, is less a
matter of regret, since it is ascertained that Dr. M. W. DICKESON of
Philadelphia, whose researches in natural science have created no
little interest, has devoted much of his time to their investigation.
His inquiries have been conducted on a large scale, and will serve to
reflect much new light upon our antiquities. It is to be hoped the
public will soon be put in possession of the results of his labors.

[75] Most of the accounts of the monuments of the South met with in
various works, treating directly or incidentally of our antiquities,
are derived from Bartram, whose animated descriptions of those which
fell under his notice are not always easily recognised, in the
various forms under which they are presented. Near the conclusion of
his work, he sums up his observations in this department as follows:

“The pyramidal hills or artificial mounds, and high ways or avenues
leading from them to artificial lakes or ponds, vast tetragon
terraces, ‘chunk yards,’ and obelisks or pillars of wood, are the
only monuments of labor, ingenuity and magnificence, that I have seen
worthy of notice or remark. The region lying between the Savannah
river and Ockmulgee, east and west, and from the sea-coast to the
Cherokee or Apalachian mountains, north and south, is the most
remarkable for these high conical hills, tetragon terraces, etc.
This region was possessed by the Cherokees since the arrival of the
Europeans, but they were afterwards dispossessed by the Muscogulges;
and all that country was probably many ages preceding the Cherokee
invasion inhabited by one nation or confederacy, who were ruled by
the same system of laws, customs, and language, but so ancient that
the Cherokees, Creeks, or the nation they conquered, could render no
account for what purposes these monuments were raised. The mounts
and cubical yards adjoining them seem to have been raised in part
for ornament and recreation, and likewise to serve for some other
public purpose, since they are always so situated as to command the
most extensive prospect over the country adjacent. The tetragon
terraces seem to be the foundations of fortresses; and perhaps the
great pyramidal mounts served the purposes of look-out towers and
high places for sacrifice. The sunken area called by white traders
the ‘chunk yard’ very likely served the same conveniency that it has
been appropriated to by the more modern and even present nations of
Indians, that is, the place where they burnt or otherwise tortured
their captives that were condemned to die; as the area is surrounded
by a bank, and sometimes two of them, one behind and above the other,
as seats to accommodate the spectators at such tragical scenes, as
well as at the exhibition of shows, dances, and games. From the river
St. Juan’s, southwardly to the point of the peninsula of Florida,
are to be seen high pyramidal mounts, with spacious and extensive
avenues, leading from them out of the town, to an artificial lake
or pond of water: these were evidently designed for ornament or
monuments of magnificence to perpetuate the power and grandeur of the
nation; and not inconsiderable neither, for they exhibit scenes of
power and grandeur, and must have been public edifices.”—«Travels in
North America», p. 518.

[76] From the Rafinesque MSS. The scale on which the plan is drawn
is not given. It is probably about five hundred feet to the inch. An
account of this work, substantially the same with that given by Prof.
RAFINESQUE, was published by Mr. E. CORNELIUS, in Silliman’s Journal,
vol. i. p. 223. Mr. Cornelius was accompanied in his visit by several
Indian chiefs, who, he says, “gazed upon the remains with as much
curiosity as any white man. I inquired,” continues Mr. C., “of the
oldest chief, if the natives had any tradition concerning them; to
which he answered in the negative. I then requested each to say what
he supposed was their origin. Neither could tell; but all agreed in
saying, ‘They were never put up by our people.’”

[77] Western Messenger.

[78] The notices of these mounds, although falling with more
propriety within the scope of the chapter on “«Mounds»,” can hardly
be omitted from the above connection. It will shortly be seen that
the mound first described (number 2 of the plan) probably belongs
to the class of altar or sacrificial mounds, or those which were
connected with the superstitions of the builders. The human remains
found in that, as in mound number 3, were, most likely, deposited
subsequent to their erection. It is not impossible that the mound
last named is of a later date than those upon the higher ground.

[79] The perfect regularity which the plans exhibit, it will readily
be understood, does not actually exist. The angles of all these
structures are more or less rounded. The predominant features,
nevertheless,—the terraces, platforms, and graded ways,—are truly
represented. All of these works seem to have been originally moulded
with the utmost care, and possessed the highest degree of regularity
of which the materials were capable. They were undoubtedly faced with
turf, which seems better than solid masonry to resist the ravages of
time and the elements.

[80] Stoddard, in his History of Louisiana, p. 349, gives an account
of some works near the junction of the Washita, Acatahoola, and
Tenza, probably the very ones in question. His account is subjoined:

“Not less than five remarkable mounts are situated near the junction
of the Washita, Acatahoola, and Tenza, in an alluvial soil. They are
all enclosed in an embankment, or wall of earth, at this time ten
feet high, which contains about two hundred acres of land. Four of
these mounds are nearly of equal dimensions, about twenty feet high,
one hundred broad, and three hundred long. The fifth seems to have
been designed for a tower or turret; the base of it covers an acre of
ground; it rises by two stages or steps; its circumference gradually
diminishes as it ascends; its summit is crowned by a flattened cone.
By admeasurement the height of this tower is found to be eighty feet.
Perhaps these works were designed in part for defence, and in part
for the reception of the dead.”

There is a slight discrepancy in the dimensions of these works, as
given by Prof. Rafinesque and Mr. Stoddard. Both agree, however,
respecting their vast size, and general character.

[81] This monument is not singular. Mounds with spiral pathways are
frequent at the South, and are occasionally found at the North.
Bartram describes one on the Savannah river in Georgia:—“These
wonderful labors of the ancients stand in a level plain near the bank
of the river. They consist of conical mounds of earth and four square
terraces, etc. The great mound is in form of a cone, about forty or
fifty feet high, and the circumference of its base is two or three
hundred yards; it is entirely composed of the loamy rich earth of the
low grounds; the top or apex is flat; a spiral path or track leading
from the ground up to the top is still visible: there appear four
niches excavated out of the sides of this hill, at different heights
from the base, fronting the four cardinal points; these niches or
sentry-boxes are entered into from the winding path, and seem to have
been meant for resting-places or look-outs.”—«Bartram’s Travels in N.
America», p. 323.

The «niches» here mentioned have been occasionally observed in
Mississippi and Louisiana, placed at right angles in respect to
each other, and not always, though sometimes, corresponding to the
cardinal points. It has been suggested that they were designed as
recesses for idols, or places where altars were erected. It seems
likely that proper investigation would throw light upon this point.

[82] Breckenridge’s View of Louisiana, «Appendix». Mr. J. R.
BARTLETT, in a recent Memoir on the “Progress of Ethnology,”
presents, on the authority of Dr. M. W. DICKESON, some new facts
respecting this mound. “On digging into it, vast quantities of human
skeletons were found; also numerous specimens of pottery, including
vases filled with pigments, ashes, ornaments, etc. The north side
of the mound is supported by a wall of «sun-dried bricks», two feet
thick, filled with grass, rushes, and leaves. A shaft has been
sunk in the mound to the depth of forty-two feet, without reaching
the original soil.” Dr. DICKESON also mentions angular tumuli, the
corners of which “were quite perfect, formed of large bricks, bearing
the impression of the human hand.” We have the same authority for
the fact that the great enclosure at the “Trinity” in Louisiana,
which contains one hundred and fifty acres, “is partially faced with
sun-dried bricks.” Also that ditches and ponds are sometimes found,
in the same State, “lined at the bottom and sides with bricks.” These
bricks are stated to be from sixteen to eighteen inches in length,
and of proportionate breadth.

[83] The remains here described are referred to in Bartram’s
published travels as follows: “They are situated upon an eminence,
near the banks of the lake, and command an extensive and charming
prospect of the waters, islands, east and west shores of the lake,
the capes, the bay, and Mount Royal; and to the south the view is in
like manner infinite, where the skies and waters seem to unite. On
the site of this ancient town stands a very pompous Indian mount, or
conical pyramid of earth, from which runs in a straight line a grand
avenue or Indian highway through a magnificent grove of magnolias,
live oaks, palms, and orange trees, terminating at the verge of a
large green level savannah.”—«Travels». p. 101.

[84] Travels in North America, p. 518.



It has already been observed that the ancient monuments of the
Southern United States, although partaking of the general character
of those of the central region, are nevertheless in many respects
peculiar. While enclosures are comparatively few, mounds are
abundant and of great size and symmetry, and possess a regularity
of arrangement which we look for in vain among the corresponding
structures of a higher latitude. Proceeding to the North and
North-west, we find the earthworks assuming a new form and character,
in many respects so unlike those both of the central and southern
divisions of the country, that we are almost induced to assign them
a different origin. As at the South, there are few enclosures or
works of defence; but, instead of regular pyramidal structures, the
mounds generally assume the shape of animals, presenting a thousand
singular forms and combinations. These effigies are situated upon the
undulating prairies and level plains, and are accompanied by conical
mounds and occasional lines of embankment; but the latter, except in
a very few instances, have no obvious design, and enter into none of
the combinations which we notice in the works of the Ohio valley. The
interesting field occupied by these remains has not fallen within
the range of the investigations of the authors, who are therefore
unable to present much that is new respecting them; still, it will be
necessary to embody the facts thus far disclosed in a general manner,
in order to an adequate comprehension of the scope and character of
our antiquities. And here, at the outset, we have again to regret the
small amount of information respecting these works in possession of
the public, as well as its unsatisfactory nature, resulting from the
necessarily limited and disconnected observations of those who have
paid any attention to the subject. These observations have been made
by men of inquiring minds, in the scanty intervals of professional
business, and are consequently too detached to justify or sustain
any general conclusions. They have served rather to excite than to
gratify curiosity, and in this way they may have the good effect of
leading to a full and careful survey of the entire field.

The first public notice of the existence of these singular relics
at the North-west, was made by RICHARD C. TAYLOR, Esq., in the
“American Journal of Science and Art,” for the month of April,
1838. His paper, which was accompanied by several illustrations,
attracted considerable attention, and was followed, in the same
Journal for 1843, by a more extended account, very well illustrated,
from the hand of S. TAYLOR, Esq. A later notice by Prof. JOHN LOCKE
constituted a short chapter in the “Report on the Mineral Lands
of the United [p125] States,” presented to Congress in 1840 and
published in 1844. These, with a few unsatisfactory notices in the
public prints, comprise the only sources of information which we
possess; and from them the following facts are mainly derived.

The field in which these remains occur, so far as observed by
the above authorities, is embraced within the lower counties of
Wisconsin, and extends from Prairie du Chien on the Mississippi, by
the way of the Wisconsin and Rock rivers, eastward towards Fond du
Lac on Lake Winnebago, and Milwaukie on Lake Michigan. The country
thus indicated is about one hundred and fifty miles in length by
fifty in width. The great Indian trail or “war path,” from Lake
Michigan near Milwaukie to the Mississippi above Prairie du Chien,
which has for the most part been adopted as the route of the United
States military road, passes through this chain of earthworks. They
are found in abundance by the sides of this great natural pathway,
which has been for ages and must for ever remain the route of
communication between the Great Lakes and the Great River. They occur
principally in the vicinity of the large water-courses, observing
in this respect a marked conformity with the remains of other
sections, and are invariably placed above the influence of freshets
or inundations. Like those of the Ohio valley, they are seldom found
upon hilly or sterile lands, but mainly upon the rich undulating
plains, or on the levels corresponding to the alluvions of the Ohio.

They consist of elevations of earth, of diversified outline and
various size, for the most part constituting effigies of beasts,
birds, reptiles, and of the human form; but often circular,
quadrangular, and of oblong shape. The circular or conical tumuli
differ from those scattered over the whole country in no outward
respect, excepting that they are much smaller in their average
dimensions; the largest seldom exceeding fifteen feet in height.
Those in the form of parallelograms are sometimes upwards of five
hundred feet in length, seldom less than one hundred; but in height
they bear no proportion to their otherwise great dimensions, and may
probably be better designated as walls, embankments, or terraces,
than mounds. These works are seldom isolated, but generally occur in
groups or ranges, sometimes, though not always, placed with apparent
design in respect to each other. In these groups may be observed
every variety of form,—the circular, quadrangular, and animal-shaped
structures occurring in such connection with each other as to fully
justify the belief that they are of contemporaneous origin. At first
glance, these remains are said to resemble the sites or ground-plans
and foundation-lines of buildings; and it is not until their entire
outline is taken into view, that the impression of an effigy becomes
decided. This is not surprising, in view of the fact that they are
usually of inconsiderable height, varying from one to four feet; in a
few cases, however, rising as high as six feet. Their outlines are,
nevertheless, represented to be distinctly defined in all cases where
they occupy favorable positions. Their small altitude should cause no
doubt of the fidelity of the representations which have been made of
these figures; since a regular elevation of six inches can be readily
traced upon the level prairies and “bottom-lands” of the West,
especially when it is covered with turf. The following illustrations,
selected from those presented by the authorities above mentioned,
will serve to explain the character of [p126] these remains. It
is to be regretted that explanatory sections do not accompany the
plans, so as to exhibit, at one view, the altitude as well as general
outlines and dimensions of the figures.


This group of mounds is figured and described from actual survey,
by Mr. R. C. TAYLOR.[85] It occurs about eighteen miles west of the
“Four Lakes,” and seven miles east of the “Blue Mounds,” in Dade
county, Wisconsin. It is situated on the Great Indian Trail already
noticed, and consists; as will be observed, of effigies of six
quadrupeds, six mounds in the form of parallelograms, one circular
tumulus, one effigy of the human figure, and a small circle. The
area comprehended in the map is something less than half a mile in
length. The dimensions of the figures and their relative positions
are indicated in the plan. It is not easy to make out, from the
effigies, the character of the animals intended to be represented. It
has been suggested that they were designed to represent the buffalo,
which formerly abounded in the vicinity; but the absence of a tail
and of the characteristic hump of that animal would seem to point
to a different conclusion. They display a closer resemblance to the
bear than to any other animal with which we are acquainted. These
figures seem to be most prevalent; and, though preserving about the
same relative proportions, vary in size from ninety to one hundred
and twenty feet. In many other places, as at this point, they occur
in ranges, one after the other at irregular intervals. In the midst
of this group is the representation of a human figure, placed with
its head towards the west, and having its arms and legs extended. Its
length is one hundred and twenty-five feet, and it is one hundred
and forty feet from the extremity of one arm to that of the other.
The body is thirty feet in breadth, the head twenty-five feet in
diameter, and its elevation considerably greater than that of most of
the others, being not much less than six feet. The human figure is
not uncommon among the effigies, and is always characterized by the
extraordinary and unnatural length of its arms. The conical mound in
the centre of this group is the most elevated work, and commands a
view of the entire series. These works are situated upon a high open
prairie, on the dividing ridge between the waters of the Rock and
Wisconsin rivers. Half a mile westward of this remarkable group, and
on the same elevated prairie, occurs a solitary mound, about ninety
feet in length, representing an animal in all respects like those
just described, but lying with its head towards the south-west. [p127]

[Illustration: XL. Ancient Monuments Seven Miles East of the Blue
Mounds, Dade Co. Wisconsin.]

[Illustration: XLI.

No. 1. Group of Works 10 Miles West of Madison, Dade Co. Wisconsin.

No. 2. Group of Works 8 Miles East of the Blue Mounds, Dade Co.

No. 3. Enlarged Plan of Mound A, Group No. 1, on This Plate, Showing
the Method of Survey.]

“Along the space of twenty miles from this position,” observes Mr. R.
S. Taylor, “extending to the Four Lakes eastward, similar monuments,
intermixed with plain tumuli, are seen at almost every mile, in the
lowest situations as well as crowning the highest swells of the
prairies; and they are still more numerous all around those beautiful
but almost unknown lakes. It would be a ceaseless repetition of
similar forms to figure many of these.”


NUMBER 1.—This group is figured both by Mr. R. C. TAYLOR and Prof.
LOCKE, whose plans agree with great exactness. It occurs ten miles
west of Madison, Dade county, Wisconsin. The old Indian trail, now
the military road, runs between the nose of one animal and the tail
of the other. They lie on the borders of an undulating prairie, at
the edge of the woodland, upon a gentle slope. A short distance (five
hundred or six hundred feet) to the west of them is a natural swell
of ground, with an artificial circular tumulus on the top of it,
overlooking the two figures. No. 3 on the same Plate illustrates the
method of survey adopted by Prof. Locke, and also gives an enlarged
plan of the more perfect figure of the group.[86] These effigies are
the favorite resort of badgers, which, finding them raised and dry,
have selected them for their burrows. Mr. Taylor suggests that these
figures were intended to represent the fox. Prof. Locke, on the other
hand, remarks that “they have an expression of agility and fleetness,
and may have been intended to represent the cougar or American tiger,
an animal still existing in that region.”

NUMBER 2.—This group of works closely resembles that last described.
One of the effigies (C) was opened by Prof. Locke. “It was composed
of sand without any change to mark the original surface, although it
is now overgrown with grass and covered with a thin black mould. The
whole of the descent near the bottom of which the figure lies, has
evidently been formed from the disintegration of the sandstone bluff
contiguous; and at the time of the formation of this tumulus, it was
most probably destitute of loam at this point, as it now is at a
point nearer [p128] the bluff. A section of the embankment, near the
gap, exhibited a thin line of loam, even with what might be supposed
to have been the surface of the ground. Alluvial stratification is
positive proof that a formation is not artificial; but the absence of
a base of mould is not proof of the same thing, for the surface of
the earth may have been removed before the erection of the mound. In
examining the tumuli of Wisconsin, I did not at any place discover
a ditch or cavity from which the earth to construct them had been
taken. They are uniformly raised from a smooth surface, always above
inundation, and guarded from temporary currents produced by showers.
The backs of the effigies are uniformly placed up hill.”


NUMBER 1.—This group of works is sufficiently well explained by
the Plate itself. It is situated about two miles from the group
last described, on the road to Madison. The large figure in the
supplementary plan is about two thousand feet south-west of the
embankment represented in the plan. “It appears to be solitary;
lies on a low, level ground; and seems to be mutilated. If intended
to represent an animal, the head is evidently too large, and the
attitude stiff and rectangular.”

NUMBER 2.—This singular group of works is situated upon section
two, township eight, near the north bank of Wisconsin river, one
and a half miles west of the principal meridian, Richland county,
Wisconsin. It is minutely described by Mr. S. TAYLOR. The figures
composing the group are so arranged as to constitute a sort of
enclosure of about half an acre area, which Mr. Taylor terms the
“citadel.” The ground is here prominent; to the north, south,
and west of the embankments it has a graded descent; to the east
it spreads into a broad plateau, upon which, as well as to the
southward, are numerous other embankments of various forms and
dimensions. From the top of the principal mound, occupying the centre
of the group, and within four hundred yards to the westward, may
be seen at least a hundred elevations similar to those forming the
boundaries of the “citadel.” “The elevation of these embankments
generally is no more than «thirty inches», and of the lesser mounds
twenty inches, while the altitude of the large mound overlooking the
whole group is ten feet. Exterior to the group, upon the east and
north-east sides, excavations from which the earth had been removed
are plainly indicated; and it was here, no doubt, that a portion of
the material composing the structures was obtained. Notwithstanding
the rank growth of vegetation upon these works, and the probability
that they have been much reduced from their original height, the
angles and terminations are quite visible. Near the north-east part
of the group, part of the embankment appears to have been destroyed.”

[Illustration: XLII.

No. 1. Group of Remains, Ten Miles East of the Blue Mounds, Dade Co.

No. 2. Group of Works, North Bank of Wisconsin River, Richland Co.

[Illustration: XLIII. Ancient Works

No. 1. Grant Co. Wisconson.

Nos. 2–13. Various Localities.]

The supplementary section, A, exhibits the excavation made by Mr.
Taylor in the large central mound. “A shaft was sunk about midway
from the top to the bottom of the mound. At the depth of eight feet
the original sod was reached; it here assumes a different appearance
from that which it possesses at the exposed surface, is hard and
compact, resembling what is technically denominated ‘hard pan,’
caused perhaps by the pressure of the superincumbent earth. The
mound is composed of ferruginous sand; and as it is free from any
admixture, and is destitute of any appearance of stratification,
it must have been built at one time, and not by contributions at
intervals. The original sod is here about six inches thick; beneath
it is the regular stratification of the plain. A shaft was carried
along the original level for the space of fourteen feet, and some
distance beyond the centre of the mound; but no remains of any kind
were discovered.”


NUMBER 1.—This interesting group of remains is situated in the
village of Muscoda, (English Prairie,) Grant county, Wisconsin. It
is described as follows, by Mr. S. TAYLOR: “The late cultivation
of these grounds has in a measure obliterated these works, many of
them being in the streets and commons; and the village in its future
increase may destroy them entirely. In the group are three figures in
the form of a cross [bird?]; in the centre of the largest of them is
a depression, perhaps caused by an Indian «caché». The outlines of
the various figures are easily traced, although their elevation at
this time does not exceed thirty inches. From the excavations around
many of them, it is apparent that they must have been constructed
with materials obtained adjacent to them. Some of these mounds
however seem to have successfully resisted the abrasions of time;
those towards the south-western portion of the group are six feet
in height. The distance, from one to the other of the group here
represented, is about four hundred and sixty yards. The site is a
beautiful arenaceous loam, free from trees and shrubbery, so that a
view of the entire group is commanded from the summit of some of the
more prominent mounds. Human bones have been found in many of these.”

NUMBER 2 is situated on the north-east part of Sec. 35 N., and is
within a mile of the Wisconsin river. It occupies an eminence, and
is the centre of a group of mounds, fifteen in number, extending
the distance of three hundred yards, and placed at intervals of
about twenty-five feet apart. “It appears to have been originally
constructed as represented by the dotted lines, having at those
points an elevation of about three feet. Additional earth seems then
to have been heaped upon the head and breast, elevating those points
to the height of six feet.” [p130]

NUMBER 3 occurs about a mile to the westward of group No. 1, just
described. “It represents a human figure having two heads, which
gracefully recline over the shoulders. It is well preserved. The
arms are disproportionately long; their full length is not exhibited
in the plan for want of room. The various parts of the figure
are gracefully rounded; the stomach and breast are full and well
proportioned. DIMENSIONS.—«Widths»: from one arm-pit over the breast
to the other, twenty-five feet; over arm at shoulders, twelve, and
tapering to four feet at the extremities; over hips, twenty; over
legs, near the body, eight, and tapering to five; over figure above
the shoulders, fifteen; over each neck, eight; over the heads,
ten. «Lengths»: of body, fifty feet; arms, one hundred and thirty;
neck and heads, fifteen. «Elevations»: of breast, shoulders, and
abdomen, thirty-six inches; arms at the junction of the shoulders,
same height, diminishing towards their extremities to ten inches;
the thighs near the trunk are twenty, at the feet but ten inches in

NUMBER 4 lies about four miles west of the village of Muscoda. It may
have been intended to represent a bird, a bow and arrow, or the human
figure. In the forest near this work are extensive groups of ancient

NUMBER 5 is situated on the Wisconsin river, east of the fourth
principal meridian. The length of this figure is one hundred and
fifty feet; elevation three feet. Mr. S. Taylor suggests that it is
intended to represent the frog; it approaches nearer the form of a
turtle. There are other works of a similar shape near by; also some
in the form of a cross, mammillary mounds, and parallelograms.

NUMBER 6 occurs near group No. 1 of this plate. “It seems to have
been intended to represent some fleet animal. It is one hundred feet
in length, and eighteen inches high.”

NUMBER 7 is found not far from that last described, and is supposed
by Mr. Taylor to represent the turtle. It is seventy-six feet in
length, and its greatest height is thirty inches. It is a common
figure in Wisconsin.

NUMBER 8 was situated in Richland county, Wisconsin. Mr. Taylor
thinks it was intended to represent a bear. It was fifty-six feet
long, and twenty inches high. It has lately been destroyed by the
passage of a road over it.

NUMBER 9 occurs in the vicinity of No. 2, and is the terminating
figure of the series of which that is the centre. Earthworks of this
form are common in Richland county.

NUMBER 10, near Blue river, English Prairie; length eighty-four feet,
height six feet; supposed to represent a bear.

NUMBER 11 is found near No. 4. It is very perfect in outline;
seventy-nine [p131] feet long, and twenty-four broad. “Throughout
this region,” observes Mr. S. Taylor, “embankments of this form are
very numerous: some have two parallel projections from the back
of the head; in the present case they seem to be so blended as to
represent but one.”

[Illustration: XLIV. Ancient Work

No. 1. On Rock River, Wisconsin.

Nos. 2–8. Various Localities.]

NUMBER 12, one mile from the English Prairie, represents, according
to Mr. S. Taylor, “a species of mounds which, under various
modifications, are very numerous, comprising about one fifth of the
embossed works of the region in which it occurs. The elevation of the
figure, as well as of the group of which it forms a part, is about
four feet. Between the base of the trunk and the southern wing, is a
mound twenty-one feet in diameter, and five feet high.” Supposed to
represent a bird with wings partially expanded.

NUMBER 13, designated the “horned bird” by Mr. Taylor, is situated in
the county of Grant, upon S. 16, T. 8, R. 1, W., where an extensive
group of several hundreds may be seen.


NUMBER 1.—The only enclosure in Wisconsin at all resembling those of
a lower latitude, or which seems to partake of a defensive character,
is situated upon the west branch of Rock river, township seven, of
range fourteen east, in the Milwaukie land district. It is known as
the city or ruins of Aztalan. Several brief notices of this work have
appeared in the public prints; the only account, however, which is
at all satisfactory, was communicated, together with an illustrative
map, by Mr. S. Taylor, to the American Journal of Science and Arts,
in 1843.

This work, although possessing several features peculiar to itself,
has others closely resembling those that characterize the works
bordering the Gulf. It is described as situated in a beautiful
rolling country, conveniently interspersed with timber, and watered
by Rock river and its tributaries. It is said to consist of a “brick
wall” five feet high by twenty-five feet base, enclosing an area of
twenty acres, and having the general outline of an oblong square.
Upon three sides the wall is interrupted, at intervals of from two
to five rods, by «bastions» of the same height as the main wall, and
extending seventeen feet beyond it. The inner wall, extending along
the bank of the river, is much lighter than those upon the remaining
sides, and is destitute of the singular feature last mentioned.
Within this enclosure are a number of truncated pyramids, forty or
fifty feet square upon the top, and between fifteen and twenty in
height. Two of these are connected with each other by an elevated
way, after the manner of some of the Mississippi and Louisiana
structures. (See Plate XXXIX.) Two parallel ways or embankments are
carried longitudinally, nearly the whole length of the enclosure.
Several [p132] conical mounds are mentioned in the description
as occurring within the enclosure, but do not appear in the plan.
Quite a number occur just exterior to the walls, some of which are
represented to be of large size. Covering the south-west angle is a
crescent-form work of considerable extent, which also has bastions
at intervals throughout its length. A cellar and stairway within
one of the square mounds, and a subterranean passage «arched with
stone», are mentioned as existing here; but they lack confirmation
and deserve little credit.

The walls, which are described as being built of «brick», are
composed of clay, probably burned on the spot. Whether they are
burned throughout, has not yet been ascertained, and can only be
determined by removing a section of the wall. It will doubtless be
found that the burning is superficial, resulting from the combustion
of some wooden superstructure, or from design. We shall be warranted
in ascribing the use of burned bricks to the race which built these
works, only upon the most conclusive evidence, and such we do not
at present possess.[87] The walls of many of the enclosures in the
Scioto valley appear to have been slightly burned. (See page 28.)

The plan of the work presented by Mr. Taylor is palpably an imperfect
one. No gateways or entrances are represented, nor is the scale upon
which the work is laid down exhibited,—omissions which would not be
likely to occur in a plan made after accurate survey. A complete map
and description of this work, such as its singular character merits,
is a desideratum.

This is the only work with projections partaking of the character
of bastions, which has fallen under notice, and is in this respect

That these projections were designed to subserve the purposes to
which bastions are applied in modern fortification is not clear.
The object of the bastion is to enfilade the wall of the defence,
so as to preclude an enemy from approaching it or carrying on his
operations under its shelter. Hence they are placed at such intervals
as may easily be swept or commanded by the weapons in use; the
distance of a bow-shot apart would therefore be adequate to all the
purposes for which their erection is required. So far from this being
the case in the work under notice, it appears that they are placed at
the short intervals of from thirty to eighty feet. This circumstance,
though not conclusive on the point, would seem to indicate that they
were not constructed for the purpose which we should be apt at first
glance to assign to them.

NUMBER 2.—“Among the various works of antiquity in this region,”
observes Mr. S. Taylor, “those in the form of men are numerous. This
figure forms one of an extensive series of these works, of various
shapes, situated upon S. 35, T. 9, R. 1, W. of 4th M., in the margin
of a forest, and is covered with large trees. It is truly a giant,
measuring from the extremity of one arm to that of the other, [p133]
two hundred and seventy-nine feet, and from the top of the head to
the end of the trunk, one hundred and eleven feet. Its shoulders,
head, and breast, are elevated four feet. In the centre of the breast
is quite a depression, probably once used as a place of concealment
for provisions by the French, called a «caché». About a mile to the
north of this figure is another of human shape and like magnitude,
accompanied by a large group of works. Among them is a large mound
two hundred feet in circumference, and fifteen in height.”

NUMBER 3.—This group occurs upon the English Prairie, within the
limits of Iowa county, Wisconsin. “In the vicinity of these are
many other figures of various forms and dimensions. To the eastward
commences a series of mammillary mounds, varying from one to two and
a half feet in height. They are beautifully and with much regularity
arranged at intervals, and extend to the distance of about fifteen
hundred feet, terminating abruptly in a mound eighteen feet in
height, and two hundred and twenty-five in circumference. To the
north and south of the figures, and parallel with them, are numerous
embankments with passage-ways through them.”

NUMBER 4.—This group is also situated in the vicinity of English
Prairie. But half of the figures are represented; the remainder are
of the same forms, supposed to represent birds.

NUMBER 5.—“The site of this remarkable work is upon an eminence, near
Eagle Mills, Richland county, Wisconsin. It seems to be a combination
of two figures, one representing the buffalo, perhaps, and the other
a man. Immediately to the south-west, and within twenty feet of the
head of this figure, commences a series of mounds, mostly conical.”

NUMBER 6 is near Blue river, English Prairie. Its outlines are very
distinct; probably designed to represent the otter or a lizard.
Figures of the kind are quite common.

NUMBER 7 is in the village of Muscoda, county of Grant. Its length is
two hundred and sixty-four feet; height thirty inches.

[Illustration: Fig. 26.]

There are many rectangular and some circular figures in addition to
the animal-shaped effigies of which so many examples have been given.
Fig. 26 represents the manner in which they are often combined. This
example is from the great group on the English Prairie. Individual
figures might be multiplied, but enough have been presented to
convey a general idea of the character of these singular monuments.
A complete survey of the field of their occurrence might disclose a
dependence between the various groups, and go far towards explaining
the mystery of their origin and purposes. [p134]

Some of these mounds have been excavated and found to contain human
remains in all parts, while the excavations in others have been
attended with no such developments. Those examined by Prof. Locke
and Mr. S. Taylor revealed no deposits. Mr. R. C. Taylor mentions
that twelve mounds, near Red Bank on the Fox river, were opened in
1837, and found to contain human bones in a very advanced stage of
decomposition. One of the mounds was an animal-shaped structure,
one hundred and fifty feet in length. The position of the skeletons
indicated that the bodies had been placed upon the original
surface previous to being heaped over. There were no appearances
of excavation beneath the surface in any of the interments. It may
be suggested that the human remains found in these mounds were
deposited by the existing tribes of Indians, a suggestion which
derives great force from the fact that both the Messrs. Taylor concur
in representing that many of the Indians to this day bury in these
structures, conceiving that they were originally designed for that
purpose, although they possess no tradition respecting their origin.
Some of the Indians, on the other hand, express the belief that the
mounds in the form of animals were made by the “«Great Manitou»,” and
are indicative of a plentiful supply of game in the world of spirits.
At any rate, they are regarded with reverence by all the Indians, and
are never disturbed by them, except for purposes of sepulture.

Proceeding upon the assumption that they were designed as
burial-places, Mr. R. C. Taylor ingeniously suggests that their
forms were intended to designate the cemeteries of the respective
tribes or families to which they belonged: thus, the tribe, clan, or
family possessing as its characteristic «totem», blazon, or emblem,
the Bear, constructed the burial-place of its members in the form of
that animal; the clans having the Panther, Turtle, Eagle, or other
animal or object for their «totems», respectively conforming to the
same practice. Upon this hypothesis we can readily conceive the
ancient inhabitant to have possessed the same anxiety to be buried
in his family tomb which we see exhibited at this day, among our own
people, “to rest in the sepulchres of their fathers.” Mr. Taylor
discreetly remarks, however, that there is no evidence to show that
any existing tribes of Indians ever erected such monuments, but that,
on the contrary, they acknowledge the profoundest ignorance of their
origin. He advances the suggestion only as a plausible conjecture, in
the absence of any satisfactory solution of the problem, which still
remains unsolved.

What significance may attach to the fact that they occur mainly
on the great lines of traverse between the Mississippi and Lake
Michigan, or to the further fact that most if not all of these groups
have one or more conical mounds so placed as to command a view of
the remainder, it is not undertaken to say.[88] That similar works
are found in the central and western portions of Michigan, as [p135]
well as in Wisconsin, we have the assurance of witnesses whose
statements are entitled to full credit. Whether they are identical
with those noticed above is unknown; their character remains to be
ascertained.[89] The few animal effigies found in Ohio, and of which
an account has already been given, seem to have few features in
common with those of the North-west, and probably, in their purposes,
admit of less doubt. We cannot venture to assign a similar origin to
the latter,—certainly not, until we are in possession of more facts
concerning them, whereon to base our conclusions.

The absence of enclosures, or works of defence, (such as are found in
great numbers in the Ohio valley,) in connection with these animal
effigies, has been noticed in a preceding page. It appears that the
effigies themselves, accompanied by short, low lines of embankment,
are sometimes so arranged as nearly to enclose certain areas; whether
the arrangement resulted from design or accident is not however very

Such is the extent of our knowledge respecting the monuments of
Wisconsin. Carver mentions earthworks in the vicinity of Lake
Pepin; and it is reasonable to conclude that they are scattered,
in greater or less profusion, over the intervening territory. Of
this, however, we are still uninformed. It would be an interesting
point to determine the range of the mound effigies, and whether they
merge gradually into the works of a lower latitude, or whether they
occupy an exclusive field, and possess characteristics sufficiently
striking to warrant us in ascribing them to a different race or era.
Their purposes, in our present state of information concerning them,
do not seem to be satisfactorily settled: it is still a matter of
doubt whether they are sepulchral in their origin, connected with
the superstitions of their builders, or erected as the monuments and
memorials of migrations and events unrecorded by the pen of history.
Certain it is that they are now invaded by a busy population,
careless alike of their origin and of their future fate, before whose
encroachments they are rapidly disappearing. Already the plough has
broken in upon the outlines and symmetry of hundreds, and unless the
present favorable moment is seized upon to secure their accurate
admeasurement and delineation, these embossed illustrations of our
ancient history will be obliterated forever. It is impossible to
estimate their value in the elucidation of the grand ethnological
problems involved in the past history of our country, until their
extent and dependencies as well as their general character are better

In the State of Missouri, and especially in the country lying
between the Missouri and Arkansas rivers, various singular remains
are represented to exist, which differ materially from those that
have been noticed in the preceding pages. [p136] These are said to
consist of the ruins of towns, sometimes of great size, regularly
laid out, in streets and squares. Dr. BECK mentions one of these
ruined towns in Gasconade county, (probably now falling within the
county of Crawford, erected out of Gasconade,) in which the sites
of houses, possessing foundations of stone, are distinctly visible.
Stone walls are said to occur in some parts of the area, covered by
heaps of earth.[90] The same author describes several works of stone
displaying, in his estimation, great architectural skill, which occur
on Osage river and Buffalo creek, one of its tributaries. One said to
exist on Noyer’s creek, near the town of Louisiana, Pike county, has
been particularly noticed. “It presents the dilapidated remains of
a building constructed of rough, unhewn stones, fifty-six feet long
and twenty-two broad, embracing several divisions and chambers. The
walls are from two to five feet high. Eighty rods eastward of this
structure is found a smaller one, of similar construction. The narrow
apartments are said to be arched with stone, one course overlapping
the other, after the manner of the edifices of Central America.”[91]
Nothing of this character has been observed elsewhere, and it is
extremely probable that there is some mistake in the matter. If
works answering to this description really exist, at the points
mentioned, they deserve the careful attention of the archæologist.
It is suspected that they will not bear a rigid scrutiny, such as
is required to a proper substantiation. Our authority observes,
that “these remains form a class of antiquities entirely distinct
from the walled towns, fortifications, barriers, or mounds; and
that the regularity and other peculiarities of structure which they
display, favor the conclusion that they are the remains of a race
different from those who erected the former, and who were familiar
with the rules of architecture, and perhaps with a perfect system of

I. DILLE, Esq., of Newark, Ohio, in a communication addressed to
the authors, presents the following facts respecting the remains
of Missouri, which cannot fail to prove interesting in this
connection: “I have been much interested in a singular kind of
antiquities found in the State of Missouri. They have been mentioned,
but not described, by various writers. They consist of small
tumuli, generally raised about twelve or eighteen inches above the
surface, and have the general form of an ellipse, measuring usually
twenty-five by eighteen feet. They are very numerous, particularly
upon the head waters of the St. Francis river, and are always near
streams and water-courses. I have dug into several, but never
succeeded in finding anything except coals and a few pieces of rude
pottery. Hence I have concluded they are the remains of mud-houses.
They are always arranged in straight lines, with broad streets
intervening between them, crossing each other [p137] at right angles.
In different villages their distance apart varies, but is generally
uniform in the same group. Sometimes they are as near as ten paces
to each other, while in other instances they are separated twenty or
thirty paces. These ruined villages are numerous in the vicinity of
Mine la Motte.[93] The town of Frederickton stands upon one of these
sites. I have noticed in them the usual prerogative of power,—the
largest houses are always nearest the water, and the smallest most
distant. It would appear that the selection of the site was governed
by the convenience of water alone; the principals taking the nearest
position to the stream. I have counted upwards of two hundred of
these mounds in a single group. Arrow-heads of jasper and agate, and
axes of sienite and porphyry, have been found in these vicinities. No
other remains of a remarkable character have, so far as I am aware,
been discovered.”[94]

It may be conjectured, that the remains here mentioned are the traces
of Indian villages. The Mandans, Minatarees, and some other tribes,
built their huts of earth, resting on a framework of wood. Previous
to their erection, however, the soil was excavated to the depth of
about two feet, and the ruins of their towns are designated rather by
depressions than elevations. It is also well known that their lodges
were grouped without regularity, and close together, with just enough
room between them to permit of moving about.[95] The sites of most of
the Indian towns are only indicated by the graves in their vicinity,
and by the bones and fragments of rude pottery scattered over the

Besides these remains, there are numerous others in the valley of
the Missouri, bearing a close resemblance to those upon the Ohio
and its branches. Lewis and Clarke describe a very extensive series
of works, one thousand miles up the Missouri, embracing an area of
about four hundred acres. It is situated upon a peninsula formed by
a bend of the river, and consists of two long walls, from six to
fifteen feet in height, and from seventy-five to one hundred feet
broad at the [p138] base, one of which is six thousand feet long
and extends across the isthmus, the other runs along the bank of
the stream. The extremity of one of the long walls terminates in a
species of citadel, of semi-circular shape, which has horn-works
and curtains defending the gateways, and also protected ways to the
river. Here are a number of mounds and excavations similar, in all
respects, to those characterizing the defensive works generally. This
work is not entire, having evidently been greatly encroached upon by
the river, which is constantly undermining the elevated terrace upon
which it stands. Still beyond this point, upon the Platte, Kanzas,
and the numerous other tributaries of the Missouri, many large and
interesting works are said to occur.[96] They have been remarked high
up the streams, in the valleys overlooked by the Rocky Mountains.
But little more than the fact of their existence is known; of their
character we are ignorant.

In the vicinity of the city of St. Louis formerly existed a
very large and interesting group of works, consisting mainly of
a series of mounds so arranged as to constitute the sides of a
parallelogram. These mounds were generally square or oblong, with
level summits. Some were terraced, bearing a close relationship to
those in Mississippi and Louisiana. A few conical mounds occurred in
connection with them, but there was neither embankment nor ditch. All
were situated upon the second terrace.

The most interesting feature of the group is the singular work yet
preserved, denominated the “Falling Garden.” This, as described by
James, consists of a succession of terraces, artificially formed from
the bank of the natural terrace, which is here upwards of fifty feet
in height. The lowest of these terraces is eighty-seven feet broad by
one hundred and fourteen long; the second is fifty-one feet, and the
third thirty feet wide. Their slopes are regular, and the aspect of
the structure that of a Mexican teocalli of four stages.[97]

Structures of brick are mentioned as occurring both in Missouri and
Arkansas, but their existence is not sufficiently well authenticated.
There are, without doubt, numerous remains scattered over the
territory embraced in Arkansas, Texas, and New Mexico; and it is not
impossible that their investigation would result in developing the
fact that there is a gradual transition, from the earthworks of the
Mississippi to the more imposing structures of brick and stone of
Mexico and Central America.[98]

[Illustration: XLV. Great Mound at Marietta, Ohio.]


[85] From Silliman’s Journal of Science and Art, vol. xxxiv. p. 91.

[86] The measurements of this figure are given by Prof. Locke as
follows, in feet and inches. «Triangles»: Eye to shoulder, 23 feet;
shoulder to foot, 29,4; fore foot to eye, 37,8; eye to nose, 20,4;
nose to shoulder, 35,10; eye to point half way between the ears,
11,0; shoulder to same point, 24,10; shoulder to hip, 38,4; fore foot
to hip, 57,0; shoulder to hind foot, 47,8; hind foot to hip, 28,10;
hip to tip of tail, 38; hind foot to tip of tail, 41,6. «Diameters»:
Of neck, 13; fore leg, 11; body, 14,7; hind leg, 9,9; tail, 8.
«Distances»: Eye to front, 7,6; ear to ear, 14; shoulder to armpit,
9,9; shoulder to back, 8,4; hip to rump, 7; hip to flank, 9,7; hip to
insertion of tail, 7,6; length of throat, 12 feet.

[87] The authors have the assurance of a gentleman for some time
connected with the Milwaukie Land Office, and who is every way
qualified to judge in the matter, that the walls are of clay,
probably only superficially burned, and possess no indications of
having been composed of bricks. The representations to the contrary
have probably been the result of misapprehension.

[88] “The choice, in selecting the sites of these monuments of
ancient days, appears to have been influenced mainly by their
contiguity to the lakes and principal rivers, and to those great
lines of interior communication, which, from an unknown period,
traversed this country. * * * These mounds are almost invariably
contiguous to Indian paths, whose narrow but deeply-worn tracks
attest their extreme antiquity and long use.”—«R. C. Taylor.»

[89] No accurate account of them has yet been published; and it
is, consequently, uncertain whether any bear the form of animals.
They are rather vaguely described as low elevations of considerable
extent and well defined outline, somewhat resembling garden beds.
Mr. Schoolcraft speaks of these remains as existing in considerable
numbers on the Elkhart, St. Joseph’s, Kalamazoo, and Grand rivers.
According to the same authority, no large tumuli or «Teocalli» occur
in connection with them. Similar monuments, it will be observed, are
found in the State of Missouri.

[90] Beck’s Gazetteer of Missouri, p. 234.

[91] Ibid. p. 306.

[92] Dr. BECK also mentions another stone work, described to him by
Gen. Ashley, as situated upon a high cliff on the west side of the
Gasconade river, from whence it commands an extensive prospect. It
is represented to be from twenty-five to thirty feet square; and,
although in ruins, exhibits an uncommon degree of regularity. From
the monument leads a devious path, extending down the cliff to the
entrance of a cave, in which was found a quantity of ashes.

[93] Remains, similar to those here described, are abundant in
Peru, where they indicate the sites of ancient towns and cities.
The streets are always easily traced, and cross each other at right
angles with great regularity. “The sites of the houses or huts are
generally marked by heaps of earth; though in some instances the
walls of the larger structures remain, in part, standing. These walls
are represented to be three feet in thickness. Some of these towns
are enclosed by fortifications, which have now crumbled down so as
to present the simple appearance of earth embankments. The remains
of one of these ancient towns, occurring midway between Truxillo and
Huanchuco, cover several miles in extent.”—«Proctor.»

[94] It is probable the remains here described are similar to those
observed by Lewis and Clarke, on the Missouri, some distance above
the mouth of the Platte. “At ten miles above our encampment, we
examined a curious collection of graves or mounds, on the south side
of the river. Not far from a low piece of land and a pond, is a tract
about two hundred acres in extent, which is covered with mounds of
various shapes and sizes: some of sand, and some of both earth and
sand; the largest being nearest the river. These mounds indicate the
position of the ancient village of the Ottoes, before they retired to
the protection of the Pawnees.”—«Lewis and Clark», p. 26.

[95] Catlin’s North American Indians, vol. i. p. 82; Breckenridge’s
Voyage up the Missouri, (Views of Louisiana,) p. 248. “Imagine you
see a heap of cabins without order or design, some like cart houses,
others like tubs, built of bark, supported by posts, sometimes
plastered on the outside with mud in a coarse manner; in a word built
with less art, neatness, and solidity, than the cabins of the beaver;
and you have an Indian village.”—«Charlevoix’s Travels in Canada»,
vol. ii. p. 127.

[96] Lewis and Clarke, p. 48.

[97] Views of Louisiana, p. 189; James, Expedition to Rocky
Mountains, vol. i. p. 314.

[98] “The distance from the large mounds on the Red river to those in
New Spain is not so great, but that they may be regarded as existing
within the same country.”—«Breckenridge».




In connection more or less intimate with the various earthworks
already described, are the Tumuli or MOUNDS. Together, these two
classes of remains constitute a single system of works, and are
the monuments of the same people. And while the enclosures impress
us with the number and power of the nations which built them, and
enlighten us as to the amount of military knowledge and skill which
they possessed, as well as, in some degree, in respect to the
nature of their superstitions,—the mounds and their contents, as
disclosed by the mattock and the spade, serve to reflect light more
particularly upon their customs and the condition of the arts among
them. Within these mounds we must look for the only authentic remains
of their builders. They are the principal depositories of ancient
art; they cover the bones of the distinguished dead of remote ages;
and hide from the profane gaze of invading races the altars of the
ancient people.

A simple heap of earth or stones seems to have been the first
monument which suggested itself to man; the pyramid, the arch, and
the obelisk are evidences of a more advanced state. But rude as are
these primitive memorials, they have been but little impaired by
time, while other more imposing structures have sunk into shapeless
ruins. When covered with forests, and their surfaces interlaced with
the roots of trees and bushes, or when protected by turf, the humble
mound bids defiance to the elements which throw down the temple and
crumble the marble into dust. We therefore find them, little changed
from their original proportions, side by side with the ruins of
those proud edifices which mark the advanced, as the former do the
primitive state of the people who built them. They are scattered over
[p140] India; they dot the steppes of Siberia and the vast region
north of the Black Sea; they line the shores of the Bosphorus and
Mediterranean; they are found in old Scandinavia, and are singularly
numerous in the British islands. In America, they prevail from the
great lakes of the north, through the valley of the Mississippi, and
the seats of semi-civilization in Mexico, Central America, and Peru,
even to the waters of the La Plata on the south. We find them also
on the shores of the Pacific ocean, near the mouth of the Columbia
river, and on the Colorado of California. With the character of those
abroad we have little, at present, to do, except perhaps to note some
of the more striking features which they exhibit in common with those
of our own valley.

Allusion has already been made to the number and dimensions of the
mounds of the West. To say that they are innumerable in the ordinary
use of the term would be no exaggeration. They may literally be
numbered by thousands and tens of thousands. In form, as observed
in a preceding chapter, they are generally simple cones, frequently
truncated and sometimes terraced. They are also elliptical,
pear-shaped, or of a square pyramidal form,—in the last case always
truncated, and most usually having one or more graded ascents to
their summits. These varieties are partially illustrated in the cut
at the head of this chapter, and will be amply exhibited in the pages
which follow. No doubt can be entertained that their forms were, in
great part, determined by the purposes for which they were designed,
and may therefore be of use to us in ascertaining their character.
Thus, if any were designed to serve as the sites of temples, or as
“high places” for the performance of religious rites and ceremonies,
it is evident they would be constructed with special reference to
these objects.

In common with the enclosures, the mounds are for the most part
composed of earth, though stone mounds are by no means rare. They
are sometimes composed entirely of clay, while the soil all around
them, for a long distance, is gravel or loam. The object of this may
perhaps be found in the fact that mounds composed of such materials
better resist the action of the elements, and preserve their form.
There is certainly no difference in their position or contents which
would justify the supposition that any peculiar dependence existed
between the material composing the mound and the purposes to which it
was devoted. Whether any significance may attach to the predominance
of stone, in some of the mounds, is a question difficult to answer.
It occasionally happens that a mound of stone occurs in the midst of
a group composed of earth. Such was the case with one which formerly
stood within the limits of Chillicothe. As a general rule, however,
the mound is composed of material found upon the spot or taken
from pits near by; and stone mounds oftenest occur where, from the
hardness of the soil or the abundance of stones, it would be easiest
to construct the tumulus of the latter material.

In respect to the position of the mounds, it may be said that those
of Ohio occur mostly within or near enclosures; sometimes in groups,
but oftener detached and isolated, and seldom with any degree of
regularity in respect to each other. Such is believed to be the
case «generally» throughout the entire valley of the Mississippi. A
section of the Ohio valley, however, embraced between the mouths of
the Guyandotte and Scioto rivers, an extent of sixty miles, which
was [p141] examined with special reference to this point, exhibited
no works of magnitude in the form of enclosures; yet there was an
abundance of mounds, though chiefly of small dimensions. Occasional
groups of fifteen or twenty were noticed, sometimes occurring in
lines, as if placed with design; a circumstance easily accounted for
by the nature of the ground, which is here broken into long, low
swells, or narrow ridges, with marshy intervals between them,—the
mounds occupying the summits of the ridges.

[Illustration: Fig. 28.—HILL MOUNDS.]

On the tops of the hills, and on the jutting points of the table
lands bordering the valleys in which the earthworks are found, mounds
occur in considerable numbers. The most elevated and commanding
positions are frequently crowned with them, suggesting at once the
purposes to which some of the mounds or «cairns» of the ancient
Celts were applied, that of signal or alarm posts. It is not unusual
to find detached mounds among the hills back from the valleys and
in secluded places, with no other monuments near. The hunter often
encounters them in the depths of the forests, when least expected;
perhaps overlooking some waterfall, or placed in some narrow valley
where the foot of man seldom enters.

Thus much respecting the mounds could not escape observation, and has
long been known; but beyond this our information has been extremely
limited. And though partial excavations have been made at various
times by different individuals, still nothing like a systematic
exploration, sufficiently thorough and extensive to warrant any
conclusion respecting them, has hitherto been attempted. The few
detached observations which have met the light have been too vague,
and in many cases too poorly authenticated, to enable the inquirer to
make any satisfactory deductions from them.

The popular opinion, however, based in a great degree upon the well
ascertained purposes of the barrows and tumuli occurring in certain
parts of Europe and Asia, is that they are simple monuments, marking
the last resting-place of some great [p142] chief or distinguished
individual, among the tribes of the builders. Some have supposed them
to be the cemeteries, in which were deposited the dead of a tribe
or a village for a certain period, and that the size of the mound
is an indication of the number inhumed; others, that they mark the
sites of great battles, and contain the bones of the slain. On all
hands the opinion has been entertained, that they were devoted to
sepulture alone. This received opinion is not, however, sustained
by the investigations here recorded. The conclusion to which these
researches have led, is, that the mounds were constructed for several
grand and dissimilar purposes; or rather, that they are of different
classes. The conditions upon which the classification is founded are
four in number,—namely: position, form, structure, and contents. In
this classification, we distinguish—

1st. ALTAR MOUNDS, which occur either within, or in the immediate
vicinity of enclosures; which are stratified, and contain altars of
burned clay or stone; and which were places of sacrifice.

2d. MOUNDS OF SEPULTURE, which stand isolated or in groups more or
less remote from the enclosures; which are not stratified; which
contain human remains; and which were the burial places and monuments
of the dead.

3d. TEMPLE MOUNDS, which occur most usually within, but sometimes
without the walls of enclosures; which possess great regularity of
form; which contain neither altars nor human remains; and which
were “High Places” for the performance of religious rites and
ceremonies, the sites of structures, or in some way connected with
the superstitions of the builders.

4th. ANOMALOUS MOUNDS, including mounds of observation and such as
were applied to a double purpose, or of which the design and objects
are not apparent. This division includes all which do not clearly
fall within the preceding three classes.

These classes are broadly marked in the aggregate, though in some
instances it is difficult to determine the character of the mounds
which fall under notice. Of one hundred mounds examined, sixty were
altar or temple mounds; twenty sepulchral; and twenty either places
of observation or anomalous in their character. Such, however, is
not the proportion in which they occur. From the fact that the altar
or sacrificial mounds are most interesting and productive in relics,
the largest number excavated was of that class. Excluding the temple
mounds, which are not numerous, the remaining mounds of the Scioto
valley are distributed between the three other varieties in very
nearly equal proportions.

These general observations will serve to introduce plans and sections
with accompanying descriptions of each of the above classes of
mounds. The sections, for obvious reasons, are not drawn upon a
uniform scale, nor are the relative proportions of the mounds always
preserved; this however will result in no misunderstanding in any
essential particulars. [p143]


The general characteristics of this class of mounds are:

1st. That they occur only within, or in the immediate vicinity of
enclosures or sacred places.[99] Of the whole number of mounds of
this class which were examined, «four» only were found to be exterior
to the walls of enclosures, and these were but a few rods distant
from them.

2d. That they are stratified.

3d. That they contain symmetrical altars of burned clay or stone; on
which are deposited various remains, which in all cases have been
more or less subjected to the action of fire.

The fact of stratification, in these mounds, is one of great interest
and importance. This feature has heretofore been remarked, but
not described with proper accuracy; and has consequently proved
an impediment to the recognition of the artificial origin of the
mounds, by those who have never seen them. The stratification, so far
as observed, is not horizontal, but always conforms to the convex
outline of the mound.[100] Nor does it resemble the stratification
produced by the action of water, where the layers run into each
other, but is defined with the utmost distinctness, and always
terminates upon reaching the level of the surrounding earth. That
it is artificial will, however, be sufficiently apparent after an
examination of one of the mounds in which the feature occurs; for
it would be difficult to explain, by what singular combination of
“igneous and aqueous” action, stratified mounds were always raised
over symmetrical monuments of burned clay or of stone.

The altars, or basins, found in these mounds, are almost invariably
of burned clay, though a few of stone have been discovered. They
are symmetrical, but not of uniform size and shape. Some are round,
others elliptical, and others square, or parallelograms. Some are
small, measuring barely two feet across, while others are fifty
feet long by twelve or fifteen feet wide. The usual dimensions are
from five to eight feet. All appear to have been modelled of fine
clay brought to the spot from a distance, and they rest upon the
original surface of the [p144] earth. In a few instances, a layer
or small elevation of sand had been laid down, upon which the altar
was formed. The height of the altars, nevertheless, seldom exceeds
a foot or twenty inches above the adjacent level. The clay of which
they are composed is usually burned hard, sometimes to the depth of
ten, fifteen, and even twenty inches. This is hardly to be explained
by any degree or continuance of heat, though it is manifest that in
some cases the heat was intense. On the other hand, a number of these
altars have been noticed, which are very slightly burned; and such,
it is a remarkable fact, are destitute of remains.

The characteristics of this class of mounds will be best explained,
by reference to the accompanying illustrations. It should be
remarked, however, that no two are precisely alike in all their

[Illustration: Fig. 29.]

The mound, a section of which is here given, occurs in “Mound City,”
a name given to a group of twenty-six mounds, embraced in one
enclosure, on the banks of the Scioto river, three miles above the
town of Chillicothe. (See Plate XIX, mound No. 1.) It is seven feet
high by fifty-five feet base. A shaft, five feet square, was sunk
from its apex, with the following results:

1st. Occurred a layer of coarse gravel and pebbles, which appeared to
have been taken from deep pits surrounding the enclosure, or from the
bank of the river. This layer was one foot in thickness.

2d. Beneath this layer of gravel and pebbles, to the depth of two
feet, the earth was homogeneous, though slightly mottled, as if
taken up and deposited in small loads, from different localities. In
one place appeared a deposit of dark-colored surface loam, and by
its side, or covering it, there was a mass of the clayey soil from
a greater depth. The outlines of these various deposits could be
distinctly traced, as shown in Fig. 30.

[Illustration: Fig. 30.]

3d. Below this deposit of earth, occurred a thin and even layer of
fine sand, a little over an inch in thickness.

4th. A deposit of earth, as above, eighteen inches in depth.

5th. Another stratum of sand, somewhat thinner than the one above

6th. Another deposit of earth, one foot thick; then—

7th. A third stratum of sand; below which was—

8th. Still another layer of earth, a few inches in thickness; which
rested on—

9th. An altar, or basin, of burned clay. [p145]

This altar was perfectly round. Its form and dimensions are best
shown by the supplementary plan and section A. The altar, measured
from «c» to «d», is nine feet in diameter; from «a» to «e», five
feet; height from «b» to «e», twenty inches; dip of curve «a r e»,
nine inches. The sides «c a», «e d», slope regularly at a given
angle. The body of the altar is burned throughout, though in a
greater degree within the basin, where it is so hard as to resist the
blows of a heavy hatchet,—the instrument rebounding as if struck upon
a rock. The basin, or hollow of the altar, was filled up evenly with
fine dry ashes, intermixed with which were some fragments of pottery,
of an excellent finish, and ornamented with tasteful carvings on the
exterior. One of the vases, of elegant model, taken in fragments
from this mound, has been very nearly restored, and will be further
noticed in the chapter on the Pottery of the Mounds. A few convex
copper discs, much resembling the bosses used upon harnesses, were
also found.

Above the deposit of ashes, and covering the entire basin, was
a layer of silvery or opaque mica, in sheets, overlapping each
other; upon which, immediately over the centre of the basin, was
heaped a quantity of burned human bones, probably the amount of a
single skeleton, in fragments. The position of these is indicated
in the section. The layers of mica and calcined bones, it should
be remarked, to prevent misapprehension, were peculiar to this
individual mound, and were not found in any other of the class.

It will be seen, by the section, that at a point about two feet
below the surface of the mound, a human skeleton was found. It was
placed a little to the left of the centre, with the head to the
east, and was so much decayed as to render it impossible to extract
a single bone entire. Above the skeleton, as shown in the section,
the layer of earth and the outer stratum of gravel and pebbles were
broken up and intermixed. Thus, while on one side of the shaft the
strata were clearly marked, on the other they were confused. And, as
this was the first mound of the class excavated, it was supposed,
from this circumstance, that it had previously been opened by some
explorer; and it had been decided to abandon it, when the skeleton
was discovered. Afterwards the matter came to be fully understood. No
relics were found with this skeleton.

It is a fact well known, that the existing tribes of Indians, though
possessing no knowledge of the origin or objects of the mounds,
were accustomed to regard them with some degree of veneration. It
is also known, that they sometimes buried their dead in them, in
accordance with their almost invariable custom of selecting elevated
points and the brows of hills as their cemeteries. That their
remains should be found in the mounds, is therefore a matter of no
surprise. They are never discovered at any great depth, not often
more than eighteen inches or three feet below the surface. Their
position varies in almost every case: most of them are extended at
length, others have a sitting posture, while others again seem to
have been rudely thrust into their shallow graves without care or
arrangement. Rude implements of bone and stone, and coarse vessels
of pottery, such as are known to have been in use among the Indians
at the period of the earliest European intercourse, occur with some
of them, particularly with those of a more ancient date; while
modern implements and ornaments, in some cases of [p146] European
origin, are found with the recent burials. The necessity, therefore,
of a careful and rigid discrimination, between these deposits and
those of the mound-builders, will be apparent. From the lack of such
discrimination, much misapprehension and confusion have resulted.
Silver crosses, gun-barrels, and French dial-plates, have been found
with skeletons in the mounds; yet it is not to be concluded that
the mound-builders were Catholics, or used fire-arms, or understood
French. Such a conclusion would, nevertheless, be quite as well
warranted, as some which have been deduced from the absolute identity
of certain relics taken from the mounds, with articles known to be
common among the existing tribes of Indians. The fact of remains
occurring in the mounds, is in itself hardly presumptive evidence
that they pertained to the builders. The conditions attending them
can alone determine their true character. As a general rule, to which
there are few exceptions, the only authentic and undoubted remains of
the mound-builders are found directly beneath the apex of the mound,
on a level with the original surface of the earth; and it may be
safely assumed, that whatever deposits occur near the surface of the
mounds, are of a date subsequent to their erection.

The French maintained an intercourse, from a very early period,
with the Indian tribes of the West. In the way of barter or as
presents they distributed amongst them vast quantities of ornaments
and implements of various kinds; which, in accordance with the
Indian custom, were buried with the possessor at his death. Nothing
is therefore more common, in invading the humble sepulchre of
the Indian, than to find by the side of his skeleton the copper
kettle, the gun, hatchet, and simple ornaments, so valued in his
life-time. The latter consist chiefly of small silver crosses and
brooches; several of which are sometimes found accompanying a single

In the class of mounds now under consideration we have data that will
admit of no doubt, whereby to judge of the origin, as well as of
the relative periods, of the various deposits found in them. If the
stratification already mentioned as characterizing them is unbroken
and undisturbed, if the strata are regular and entire, it [p147] is
certain that whatever occurs beneath them was placed there at the
period of the construction of the mound. But if, on the other hand,
these strata are broken up, it is equally certain that the mound has
been disturbed, and new deposits made, subsequent to its erection.
It is in this view, that the fact of stratification is seen to be
important, as well as interesting; for it will serve to fix, beyond
all dispute, the origin of many singular relics, having a decisive
bearing on some of the leading questions connected with American
archæology. The thickness of the exterior layer of gravel, in mounds
of this class, varies with the dimensions of the mound, from eight
to twenty inches. In a very few instances, the layer, which may have
been designed to protect the form of the mound, and which purpose it
admirably subserves, is entirely wanting. The number and relative
position of the sand strata are variable; in some of the larger
mounds, there are as many as six of them, in no case less than one,
most usually two or three.

[Illustration: Fig. 31.]

Fig. 31 exhibits a section of mound No. 2 in the plan of “Mound
City.” This mound is ninety feet in diameter at the base by seven and
a half feet high, being remarkably broad and flat. A shaft six feet
square was sunk from the apex with the following results:

1st. Occurred the usual layer of gravel and pebbles, one foot thick.

2d. A layer of earth, three feet thick.

3d. A thin stratum of sand.

4th. Another layer of earth two feet thick.

5th. Another stratum of sand, beneath which, and separated by a few
inches of earth, was—

6th. The altar, Fig. 32.

[Illustration: Fig. 32.]

This altar was a parallelogram of the utmost regularity, as shown in
the plan and section. At its base, it measures ten feet in length by
eight in width; at the top, six feet by four. Its height was eighteen
inches, and the dip of the basin nine inches. Within the basin was
a deposit of fine ashes, unmixed with charcoal, three inches thick,
much compacted by the weight of the superincumbent earth. Amongst
the ashes were some fragments of pottery, also a few shell and pearl
beads. Enough of the pottery was recovered to restore a beautiful
vase, for a drawing and description of which the reader is referred
to the paragraphs on «Pottery». The second or [p148] lower sand
stratum in this, as in several other instances, rested directly upon
the outer sides of the altar.

In this mound, three feet below the surface, were found two very well
preserved skeletons, the presence of which was indicated, at the
commencement of the excavation, by the interruption of the layers,
as above described. They were placed side by side, the head of one
resting at the elbow of the other. Under and about the heads of both
were deposited some large rough fragments of greenstone, identical
with that of which most of the stone implements of the former Indian
tribes of the valley were made. There were also deposited with the
skeletons many implements of stone, horn, and bone; among which was
a beautiful chip of hornstone, about the size of the palm of one’s
hand, which had manifestly been used for cutting purposes. There were
several hand-axes and gouges of stone, and some articles made from
the horns of the deer or elk, which resemble the handles of large
knives; but no traces of iron or other metals were discoverable.
Among the implements of bone was one formed from the shoulder-blade
of the buffalo, in shape resembling a Turkish scimetar; also a
singular notched instrument of bone, evidently intended for insertion
in a handle, and designed, in common with similar articles in use by
the Indians of the present day, for distributing the paint in lines
and other ornamental figures on the faces of the warriors. Another
instrument was also found, made by cutting off a section of the main
stem of an elk’s horn, leaving one of the principal prongs attached;
used perhaps as a hammer or war-club. Besides these there were some
gouges made of elk’s horns, and a variety of similar relics; all of
exceeding rudeness, and of no great antiquity. The skulls found in
this mound possessed no marked features to distinguish them from the
crania found in the known burial-places of the Shawanoes and other
late Indian tribes.

[Illustration: Fig. 33.]

This mound, Fig. 33, is numbered 4 in the plan of “Mound City.” It is
oblong in shape, measuring ninety by sixty feet base, and six feet in
height. It has two sand strata, as shown in the section. The altar in
this mound is remarkable from its depth, which is twenty-two inches,
the hollow of the basin sinking a foot or more below the original
surface of the soil. Its form and dimensions are best explained by
the plan and section. Nothing was contained in the basin, except
a white mass or layer five inches thick, «a», presenting all the
appearances of sharp [p149] lime mortar. Mingled with this mass,
which was hard and compact, were a few fragments of calcined shells;
leading to the inference, that it was formed from the burning of
shells. It was afterwards found upon analysis, that the mass was
principally carbonate of lime, with a considerable portion of earthy
particles, thus sustaining the inference already made. No fragments
of bones, however small, were discoverable.

By the side of the mound just mentioned, the bases of the two running
into each other, is another mound, No. 5 in the plan of “Mound City.”
It is of the same form and dimensions with the one just described,
and like that has two sand strata. The altar however more resembles
that of Fig. 31, though somewhat smaller in size. It contained a
quantity, perhaps thirty pounds in all, of galena in pieces weighing
from two ounces to three pounds; also several lumps of fine clay,
possessing an unctuous feel. The latter appeared to have originally
formed a model over which a vessel of some sort had been fashioned.
Around this deposit there was considerable charcoal, apparently of a
light wood, but very little ashes. The altar, although the galena was
but slightly burned, bore marks of intense heat,—thus evincing that
it had been previously subjected for a considerable period, or at
frequent intervals, to the action of fire.

[Illustration: Fig. 34.]

Fig. 34 is a section of the long mound, No. 3, in the plan of “Mound
City.” For several reasons,—its shape, the great dimensions of its
enclosed altar, and the number and variety of its relics,—this mound
was minutely investigated, and is worthy of a detailed description.
It is egg-shaped in form, and measures one hundred and forty feet in
length, by fifty and sixty respectively at its greater and smaller
ends, and is eleven feet high.

Its longitudinal bearing is N. 20° W. Four shafts were sunk at as
many different points; between three of which, for a distance of over
forty feet, connecting drifts were carried, as indicated in the plan.

The shaft «a» was first sunk. At the commencement of the excavation
the feature already mentioned, viz. the confusion of the layers, was
remarked, and care was accordingly taken to uncover carefully the
expected recent deposit. This proved to be a single human skeleton,
placed in a sitting posture, the head resting on the knees. The top
of the skull was eighteen inches below the surface. The skeleton was
well preserved, still retaining a large portion of its animal matter.
The lower jaw was broken, a circumstance observed in most of the
skeletons thus found. No relics were deposited with this skeleton.
The sand strata occurred low down, following the curvature of the
mound, as represented in the section.

Shaft «c» was next sunk. On the left side of the excavation a
disturbance was [p150] remarked; and at about two feet below the
surface, a rude earthern vessel holding something over one quart, and
the lower jaw of a human skeleton, were discovered. They were side by
side, and seemed to have constituted the entire deposit.

Two sand strata occur in this mound, the first five feet below the
surface, the second one foot deeper. The intermediate layers of earth
presented the mottled appearance already explained, and were much
compacted, rendering excavation exceedingly slow and laborious. The
remaining shafts were afterwards sunk for the purpose of ascertaining
the size and form of the altar, but disclosed nothing of importance
in their course.

Although the altar in this mound was not fully exposed, yet enough
was uncovered to ascertain very nearly its character and extent.
Forty-five feet of its length was exposed, and in one place its
entire width, which was eight feet across the top, by fifteen at the
base. The portions in the section, extending beyond the line of the
excavation, are supplied, giving an entire length to the altar of not
far from sixty feet.


[Illustration: Fig. 36.—CROSS SECTION OF ALTAR.]

By attention to the longitudinal section of the altar B C B, it
will be seen that it shelves gradually from the ends, forming a
basin of not far from eighteen inches in depth. The outer slope is
more gradual than the inner one. Near the centre of the altar, two
partitions, A A, are carried across it transversely, forming a minor
basin or compartment, C, eight feet square. Within this basin the
relics deposited in the mound were placed. The outer compartments
seemed to have been filled with earth, previous to the final heaping
over, so as to present a perfectly level surface, which had been
slightly burned. This feature is indicated in the section, which
also illustrates another interesting and important peculiarity. Upon
penetrating the altar (a task of no little difficulty in consequence
of its extreme hardness) to ascertain its thickness, it was found
to be burned to the depth of «twenty-two» inches. This could hardly
be accounted for by the application or continuance of any degree of
heat from above, and was therefore the occasion of some surprise. A
more minute examination furnished the explanation. It was found that
one altar had been built upon another; as if one had been used for
a time, until, from defect or other causes, it was abandoned, when
another was «recast» upon it. This process, as shown in the section
F E, had been repeated three times, the outline of each successive
layer being so distinct as to admit of no doubt as to its cause.
The partitions A A were constructed subsequently to the erection of
the altar, as is evidenced from the fact that they were scarcely
burned through, while the altar immediately beneath them was burned
to great hardness. Scattered upon the deposit of earth filling the
compartments D D, and resting upon [p151] the slopes of the altar,
were found the traces of a number of pieces of timber, four or five
feet long, and six or eight inches thick. They had been somewhat
burned, and the carbonized surface had preserved their casts in the
hard earth, although the wood had entirely decayed. They had been
heaped over while glowing, for the earth around them was slightly
baked. In fact the entire hollow of the altar was covered with a
thin layer of fine carbonaceous matter, much like that formed by
the burning of leaves or straw. These pieces had been of nearly
uniform length; and this circumstance, joined to the position in
which they occurred in respect to each other and to the altar, would
almost justify the inference that they had supported some funeral or
sacrificial pile.

The remains found in this mound were, in their number and variety,
commensurate with the labor and care bestowed on its construction.
A quantity of pottery and many implements of copper and stone were
deposited on the altar, intermixed with much coal and ashes. They
had all been subjected to a strong heat, which had broken up most
of those which could be thus affected by its action. A large number
of spear-heads, as they have been termed, beautifully chipped out
of quartz and manganese garnet, had been placed here; but, out of
a bushel or two of fragments, four specimens only were recovered
entire. One of them is faithfully figured under the head of
“Implements.” A quantity of the raw material, from which they were
manufactured, was also found, consisting of large fragments of quartz
and of crystals of garnet. Some of these crystals had been of large
size, certainly not less than three or four inches in diameter. A
single arrow-point of «obsidian» was found; also a number of fine
arrow-heads of limpid quartz. One of these was four inches in length,
and all were finely wrought. Judging from the quantity of fragments,
some fifty or a hundred of these were originally deposited on the
altar. Among the fragments were some large thin pieces of the same
material, shaped like the blade of a knife. Two copper gravers or
chisels, one measuring six, the other eight inches in length, (see
“«Implements»,”) also twenty or more tubes formed of thin strips
of copper, an inch and a quarter long by three eighths of an inch
diameter, (see “«Ornaments»,”) were found among the remains. A large
quantity of pottery, much broken up, enough perhaps to have formed
originally a dozen vessels of moderate size, was also discovered. Two
vases have been very nearly restored. They resemble, in material and
form, those already mentioned, and have similar markings on their
exterior. (See “«Pottery».”) Also a couple of carved pipes; one of
which, of beautiful model and fine finish, is cut out of a stone
closely resembling, if indeed not identical with, the Potomac marble,
of which the columns of the hall of the House of Representatives at
Washington are made. The other is a bold figure of a bird, resembling
the toucan, cut in white limestone.

A portion of the contents of this mound were cemented together by
a tufa-like substance of a gray color, resembling the scoriæ of
a furnace, and of great hardness. It was at first supposed to be
carbonate of lime gradually deposited, in the lapse of time, from the
water percolating through the outer stratum of limestone gravel and
pebbles. The quantity however, covering as it did a large part of the
basin to the depth of an inch or two, weighed strongly against such a
conclusion; and a subsequent analysis demonstrated that it was made
up in part of «phosphates». A [p152] single fragment of partially
calcined bone was found on the altar. It was the «patella» of the
human skeleton.

Such were the more important features of this interesting mound. It
is evident that the enclosed altar had been often used, and several
times remodelled, before it was finally heaped over. Why this was at
last done, upon what occasion, and with what strange ceremonies, are
questions which will probably forever remain unanswered.

[Illustration: Fig. 37.]

Fig. 37 is a section of mound No. 8 in “Mound City.” In the number
and value of its relics, this mound far exceeds any hitherto
explored. It is small in size, and in its structure exhibits nothing
remarkable. It had but one sand stratum, the edges of which rested
on the outer slopes of the altar, as shown in the section. Between
this stratum and the deposit in the basin occurred a layer, a few
inches thick, of burned loam. The altar itself (Fig. 38) was somewhat
singular, though quite regular in shape. In length it was six feet
two inches, in width four feet. At the point indicated in the section
was a depression of perhaps six inches below the general level of the

[Illustration: Fig. 38.—PLAN OF ALTAR.]

The deposit («a») in this altar was large. Intermixed with much
ashes, were found not far from «two hundred» pipes, carved in stone,
many pearl and shell beads, numerous discs, tubes, etc., of copper,
and a number of other ornaments of copper, covered with silver,
etc. etc. The pipes were much broken up,—some of them calcined by
the heat, which had been sufficiently strong to melt copper, masses
of which were found fused together in the centre of the basin. A
large number have nevertheless been restored, at the expense of much
labor and no small amount of patience. They are mostly composed of
a red porphyritic stone, somewhat resembling the pipe stone of the
«Coteau des Prairies», excepting that it is of great hardness and
interspersed with small variously colored granules. The fragments of
this material which had been most exposed to the heat were changed to
a brilliant black color, resembling Egyptian marble. Nearly all the
articles carved in limestone, of which there had been a number, were

The bowls of most of the pipes are carved in miniature figures of
animals, birds, reptiles, etc. All of them are executed with strict
fidelity to nature, and with exquisite skill. Not only are the
features of the various objects represented faithfully, but their
peculiarities and habits are in some degree exhibited. The otter is
shown in a characteristic attitude, holding a fish in his mouth;
the heron also holds [p153] a fish; and the hawk grasps a small
bird in its talons, which it tears with its beak. The panther, the
bear, the wolf, the beaver, the otter, the squirrel, the raccoon,
the hawk, the heron, crow, swallow, buzzard, «paroquet», «toucan»,
and other indigenous and southern birds,—the turtle, the frog, toad,
rattlesnake, etc., are recognized at first glance. But the most
interesting and valuable in the list, are a number of sculptured
human heads, no doubt faithfully representing the predominant
physical features of the ancient people by whom they were made. We
have this assurance in the minute accuracy of the other sculptures of
the same date. For engravings of these as well as of a large series
of the other relics here mentioned, the reader is referred to the
passages on “«Sculptures».” Appropriate notices of the remaining
articles discovered in this mound,—the copper discs and tubes, pearl,
shell, and silver beads, etc.,—will be found under the head of

[Illustration: Fig. 39.]

[Illustration: Fig. 40.]

Fig. 39 is a section of mound No. 18 in “Mound City.” It has three
sand strata, and an altar of the usual form and dimensions. This
altar contained no relics, but was thinly covered with a carbonaceous
deposit, resembling burned leaves. The feature of this mound most
worthy of remark was a singular burial by «incremation», which had
been made in it at some period subsequent to its erection. The
indications (so often remarked as to need no further specification
here) that the mound had been disturbed were observed at the
commencement of the excavation. At the depth of four and a half feet,
the deposit was reached (Fig. 41). A quantity of water-worn stones,
about the size of common paving stones, and evidently taken from the
river close by, had been laid down, forming a rude pavement six feet
long by four broad. Lying diagonally upon this pavement, as shown
in Fig. 40, with its head to the north-west, was a skeleton. It was
remarkably well preserved, and retained much of its animal matter,—a
fact attributable in some degree to the antiseptic qualities of the
carbonaceous material surrounding it.[102] A fire had been built over
the body after it was deposited, its traces being plainly visible
on the stones, all of which were slightly burned. A quantity of
carbonaceous matter, resembling [p154] that formed by the sudden
covering up of burning twigs or other light materials, covered the
pavement and the skeleton. There were no relics with the skeleton;
although around its head were disposed a number of large fragments
of sienite, identical with that of which many of the instruments of
the modern Indians are known to have been made, previous and for some
time subsequent to the introduction of iron amongst them. After the
burial had been performed, and the hole partly filled, another fire
had been kindled, burning the earth of a reddish color, and leaving
a distinctly marked line, as indicated in the section. The hole had
then been completely filled up, so as to leave a scarcely perceptible
depression in the mound.

[Illustration: Fig. 41.]

[Illustration: Fig. 42.]

Fig. 41 is a section of mound No. 7 in “Mound City.” This mound is
much the largest within the enclosure, measuring seventeen and a half
feet in height by ninety feet base. From its top a full view of the
entire group is commanded. A shaft nine feet square was sunk from the
apex. The outer layer of gravel, which in this case was twenty inches
thick, was found to be broken up, and at the depth of three feet (at
a point indicated by «a» in the section) were found two copper axes,
weighing respectively two, and two and one fourth pounds. At the
depth of seven feet occurred the first sand stratum, below which,
at intervals of little more than a foot, were three more,—«four» in
all. At the depth of nineteen feet was found a smooth level floor of
clay, slightly burned, which was covered with a thin layer of sand
an inch in thickness. This sand had a marked ferruginous appearance,
and seemed to be cemented together, breaking up into large fragments
a foot or two square. At one side of the shaft, and resting on the
sand, was noticed a layer of silvery mica, as shown in the plan of
the excavation, Fig. 42. It was formed of round sheets, ten inches
or a foot in diameter, overlapping each other like the scales of a
fish. Lateral excavations were made to determine its extent, with
the result indicated in the plan. The portion uncovered exhibited
something over one half of a large and regular crescent, the outer
edge of which rested on an elevation or ridge of sand six inches
in height, as shown in the supplementary section «o». The entire
length of [155] the crescent from horn to horn could not have been
less than twenty feet, and its greatest width five. The clay floor
of this mound was but a few inches in thickness; a small shaft,
«c», was sunk three feet below it, but it disclosed only a mass of
coarse ferruginous sand. The earth composing the mound was incredibly
compact, rendering excavation exceedingly slow and laborious. Two
active men were employed more than a week in making the excavation
here indicated. It is not absolutely certain that the mound was
raised over the simple deposit above mentioned, and it may yet be
subjected to a more rigid investigation.

Although this mound is classed as a mound of sacrifice, it presents
some features peculiar to itself. Were we to yield to the temptation
to speculation which the presence of the mica crescent holds out, we
might conclude that the mound-builders worshipped the moon, and that
this mound was dedicated, with unknown rites and ceremonies, to that
luminary. It may be remarked that some of the mica sheets were of
that peculiar variety known as “hieroglyphic” or “graphic mica.”

[Illustration: Fig. 43.]

Fig. 43 is a section of mound No. 9, in the plan of the great work
on the North fork of Paint creek (Plate X). It will be seen that
this mound has several peculiar features. The altar, «a», instead of
occupying the centre, is placed considerably towards one side, and a
layer of charcoal, «c», fills the corresponding opposite side. Over
the altar curves a stratum of sand, and over the layer of charcoal
still another, as exhibited in the section. This altar was the
smallest met with. It was round, not measuring more than two feet
across the top. It was nevertheless rich in remains. Within it were

1st. Several instruments of «obsidian». They were considerably broken
up, but have been so much restored, as to exhibit pretty nearly their
original form. Too large for arrow-heads, and too thin and slender
for points of spears, they seem to have been designed for cutting

2d. Several scrolls tastefully cut from thin sheets of mica. They
are perforated with small holes, as if they had been attached as
ornaments to a robe of some description.

3d. Traces of cloth; small portions of which, though completely
carbonized, were found, still retaining the structure of the thread.
This appeared to have been made of some fine vegetable fibre. It was
what is technically termed “doubled and twisted,” and was about the
size of fine pack-thread.

4th. A considerable number of ivory or bone needles, or
graving-tools, about one tenth of an inch thick. Their original
length is not known. Several fragments were found two and three
inches long. Some have flat cutting points, the points of others were
round and sharp; some were straight, others slightly bent. [p156]

5th. A quantity of pearl beads; an article resembling the cover of a
small vessel, carved from stone; also some fragments of copper, in
thin narrow slips.

There were no relics of any kind found amongst the charcoal. The
layer of this material was not far from six feet square. It had been
heaped over while burning.

[Illustration: Fig. 44.]

Fig. 44 is a section of a large mound, No. 5, in the same enclosure.
In this instance the altar was covered with stones; and instead of
the usual sand stratum, there was found a layer of large flat stones,
corresponding to it. The altar, A, was composed of earth elevated
two and a half feet above the original level of the soil, and was
five feet long by three feet four inches broad, the sides sloping at
an angle of nearly thirty degrees. It was faced on the top and on
the sides with slabs of stone, quite regular in form and thickness,
and which, although not cut by any instrument, were closely fitted
together, as shown in the supplementary section of the altar, A. The
stone is the Waverley sandstone, underlying the coal series, thin
strata of which cap the hills bordering these valleys. The altar
bore the marks of fire; and a few fragments of the mound-builders’
ornaments, a few pearl beads, etc., were found on and around it. The
original deposit had probably been removed by the modern Indians, who
had opened the mound and buried one of their dead on the slope of
the altar. The stones composing the layer corresponding to the sand
stratum were two or three deep, presenting the appearance of a wall
which had fallen inwards.

[Illustration: Fig. 45.]

In the centre of the large enclosure, Plate XIX, is a solitary mound,
of which a section is here presented, Fig. 45. It is now, after
many years of cultivation, about five feet high by forty feet base.
Like that last described, it has some novel features, although its
purposes can hardly admit of a doubt. It has the casing of pebbles
and gravel which characterize the altar-mounds, but has no sand
layer, except a thin stratum resting immediately on the deposit
contained in the altar. This altar is entirely peculiar. It seems
to have been formed, at different intervals of time, as follows:
first, a circular space, thirteen feet in diameter and eight inches
in depth, was excavated in the original level of the plain; this
was filled with fine sand, carefully levelled, and compacted to
the utmost degree. Upon the level thus formed, which was perfectly
horizontal, offerings by fire were made; at any rate a continuous
heat was kept up, and fatty matter of some sort burned, for the sand
to the depth of two inches is discolored, and to the depth of one
inch is burned hard and black and cemented together. The ashes, etc.,
resulting from [p157] this operation, were then removed, and another
deposit of sand, of equal thickness with the former, was placed above
it, and in like manner much compacted. This was moulded into the form
represented in the plan, which is identical with that of the circular
clay altars already described; the basin, in this instance, measuring
seven feet in diameter by eight inches in depth. This basin was then
carefully paved with small round stones, each a little larger than a
hen’s egg, which were laid with the utmost precision, fully rivalling
the pavior’s finest work. They were firmly bedded in the sand beneath
them, so as to present a regular and uniform surface. Upon the altar
thus constructed was found a burnt deposit, carefully covered with
a layer of sand, above which was heaped the superstructure of the
mound. The deposit consisted of a thin layer of carbonaceous matter,
intermingled with which were some burned human bones, but so much
calcined as to render recognition extremely difficult. Ten well
wrought copper bracelets were also found, placed in two heaps, five
in each, and encircling some calcined bones,—probably those of the
arms upon which they were originally worn. Besides these were found a
couple of thick plates of mica, placed upon the western slope of the

Assuming, what must be very obvious from its form and other
circumstances, that this was an altar and not a tomb, we are almost
irresistibly led to the conclusion, that human sacrifices were
practised by the race of the mounds. This conclusion is sustained by
other facts, which have already been presented, and which need not be
recapitulated here.

The two mounds last described are the only ones yet discovered
possessing altars of stone; and, although it is likely there are
others of similar construction, their occurrence must be very rare.

Such are the prevailing characteristics of this class of mounds.
It will be remarked that while all have the same general features,
no two are alike in their details. They differ in the number and
relative position of their sand strata, as well as in the size and
shape of their altars and the character of the deposits made on them.
One mound covers a deposit made up almost entirely of pipes, another
a deposit of spear-heads, or of galena or calcined shells or bones.
In a few instances the symmetrical altar, of which so many examples
have been given, is wanting, and its place is supplied by a level
floor or platform of earth. Such was the case with mound No. 1, in
the plan of the great work on the North fork of Paint creek, already
referred to. This mound, although one of the richest in contents,
was one of the smallest met with, being not over three feet in
height. Its deposit was first disturbed by the plough, some years
ago, and numerous singular articles were then taken from it. Upon
investigation, in place of the altar, a level area ten or fifteen
feet broad was found, much burned, on which the relics had been
placed. These had been covered over with earth to perhaps the depth
of a foot, followed by a stratum of small stones, and an outer layer
of earth two feet in thickness. Hundreds of relics, and many of the
most interesting and valuable hitherto found, were taken from this
mound, among which may be mentioned several coiled serpents, carved
in stone, and carefully enveloped in sheet mica and copper; [p158]
pottery; carved fragments of ivory; a large number of fossil teeth;
numerous fine sculptures in stone, etc. Notice will be taken of some
of the most remarkable of these, under the appropriate heads.

[Illustration: Fig. 46.]

Another singular mound of somewhat anomalous character, of which a
section is herewith given, (Fig. 46,) occurred in the same enclosure
with the above. It is numbered 2 in Plate X, and is remarkable as
being very broad and flat, measuring at least eighty feet in diameter
by but six or seven in height. It has two sand strata; but instead
of an altar, there are two layers of discs chipped out of hornstone,
(A A of the section,) some nearly round, others in the form of
spear-heads. They are of various sizes, but are for the most part
about six inches long, by four wide, and three quarters of an inch
or an inch in thickness. They were placed side by side, a little
inclining, and one layer resting immediately on the other. Out of
an excavation six feet long by four wide, not far from six hundred
were thrown. The deposit extends beyond the limits of the excavation
on every side. Supposing it to be twelve feet square, (and it may
be twenty or thirty,) we have not far from four thousand of these
discs deposited here. If they were thus placed as an offering, we can
form some estimate, in view of the facts that they must have been
brought from a great distance, and fashioned with great toil, of the
devotional fervor which induced the sacrifice, or the magnitude of
the calamity which that sacrifice was perhaps intended to avert. The
fact, that this description of stone chips most easily when newly
quarried, has induced the suggestion that the discs were deposited
here for the purpose of protecting them from the hardening influence
of the atmosphere, and were intended to be withdrawn and manufactured
as occasion warranted or necessity required. It is incredible,
however, that so much care should be taken to fashion the mound
and introduce the mysterious sand strata, if it was designed to be
disturbed at any subsequent period. There is little doubt that the
deposit was final, and was made in compliance with some religious
requirement. An excavation below these layers discovered traces of
fire, but too slight to be worthy of more than a passing remark.

A mound marked E in the plan of the great work, Plate XXI, No. 2, was
found to enclose an altar of small dimensions, which contained only a
few perforated wolf’s teeth and some fifteen or twenty bones of the
deer, all of them much burned. Six or eight inches above the deposit
was a stratum of large pebbles.

It has been remarked that some of the mounds of this class contain
altars which have been but slightly burned, and that such are
destitute of remains. A few altars have been noticed, which have been
much burned, but having no deposit upon them, except a thin layer of
phosphate of lime, which seems to have incorporated itself with the
clay of which they are composed, giving them the appearance of [p159]
having been plastered with mortar. Nos. 6, 9, and 18, in “Mound
City,” are examples of this class. No coals or ashes were found on
any of these; they appear to have been carefully cleaned out before
being heaped over.

[Illustration: Fig. 47.]

An explanation of this circumstance may probably be found in the
character of a certain class of small mounds, occurring within
enclosures and in connection with the altar mounds. In the plan of
“Mound City” so often referred to are several of these, numbered 14,
15, 16, 19, 20, 21 and 23, respectively. They are very small, the
largest not exceeding three feet in height, and are destitute of
altars. In place thereof, on the original level of the earth, was
found a quantity, in no case exceeding the amount of one skeleton, of
burned human bones, in small fragments. That they were not burned on
the spot is evident from the absence of all traces of fire, beyond
those furnished by the remains themselves. They appear to have been
collected from the pyre, wherever it was erected, and carefully
deposited in a small heap, and then covered over. In one instance
(mound No. 19) a small hole had been dug, in which the remains were
found. A section of this mound is herewith given, Fig. 47. The
deposit is indicated by the letter «a». This feature is analogous
to the «cists» of the British barrows. That the burning took place
on some of the altars above mentioned is not only indicated by the
presence of the deposit of phosphate of lime upon them, but is
absolutely demonstrated by finding, intermixed with the calcined
bones, «fragments of the altars themselves», as if portions had been
scaled up by the instrument used in scraping together and removing
the burned remains.

The inference that human sacrifices were made here, and the remains
afterwards thus collected and deposited, or that a system of burial
of this extraordinary character was practised in certain cases,
seems to follow legitimately from the facts and circumstances here

That the stratified mounds are not burial places seems sufficiently
well established by the fact that the greater number have no traces
of human remains upon or around the altars. The suggestion that the
various relics found upon these altars were the personal effects of
deceased chiefs or priests, thus deposited in accordance with the
practice common amongst rude people, of consigning the property of
the dead to the tomb with them, is controverted by the fact that
[p160] the deposits are generally homogeneous. That is to say,
instead of finding a large variety of relics, ornaments, weapons,
and other articles, such as go to make up the possessions of a
barbarian dignitary, we find upon one altar «pipes» only, upon
another a simple mass of galena, while the next one has a quantity
of pottery, or a collection of spear heads, or else is destitute of
remains except perhaps a thin layer of carbonaceous material. Such
could not possibly be the case upon the above hypothesis, for the
spear, the arrows, the pipe, and the other implements and personal
ornaments of the dead, would then be found in connection with each
other. Besides the negative evidence here afforded in support of our
classification, it is sustained by the circumstance that these mounds
are almost invariably found within enclosures, which, for a variety
of concurring reasons, we are induced to believe were sacred in their
origin, and devoted primarily, if not exclusively, to religious
purposes. The circumstance of stratification, exhibiting as it does
an extraordinary care and attention, can hardly be supposed to
result from any but superstitious notions. It certainly has no exact
analogy in any of the monuments of the globe, of which we possess
a knowledge, and its significance is beyond rational conjecture.
Why these altars, some of which, as we have already seen, had been
used for considerable periods, were finally heaped over, is an
embarrassing question, and one to which it is impossible to suggest
a satisfactory answer. That all were not covered by mounds is quite
certain. The “brick hearths,” of which mention has occasionally been
made by writers upon our antiquities, were doubtless none other than
uncovered altars. Nothing is more likely than that, even though
designed to be subsequently covered, some were left exposed by the
builders, and afterwards hidden by natural accumulations, to be
again exposed by the invading plough or the recession of the banks
of streams. The indentations occasioned by the growth of roots over
their surfaces, or the cracks resulting from other causes, would
naturally suggest the notion of rude brick hearths. One of these
“hearths” was discovered some years since near the town of Marietta
in Ohio. It was surrounded by a low bank, of about one hundred feet
in circumference, which seemed to have been the ground plan or
commencement of a mound.

[Illustration: Fig. 48.—ELLIPTICAL MOUND]


[99] It is not assumed to say that «all» the mounds occurring within
enclosures are altar or sacrificial mounds. On the contrary, some are
found which, to say the least, are «anomalous»; while others were
clearly the «sites of structures», or temple mounds.

[100] Some of the mounds on the lower Mississippi, as we have already
seen in the chapter on the aboriginal monuments of the Southern
States, are horizontally stratified, exhibiting numerous layers,
from base to summit. These mounds differ in form from the conical
structures here referred to, and were perhaps constructed for a
different purpose. Some are represented as composed of layers of
earth, two or three feet thick, each one of which is surmounted by a
burned surface, which has been mistaken for a rude brick pavement.
Others are composed of alternate layers of earth and human remains.
The origin of the latter is doubtless to be found in the annual
bone burials of the Cherokees and other southern Indians, of which
accounts are given by Bartram and the early writers.

[101] In the construction of the Ohio canal, a mound was partially
excavated, in which were found a dial-plate and other articles of
European origin. The circumstances are detailed in a private letter
from WILLIAM H. PRICE, Esq., of Chillicothe, late member of the Board
of Public Works of Ohio, under whose direction the mound was removed:

“In the year 1827, during the excavation of a part of the Ohio canal
in the township of Benton, Cuyahoga county, a short distance north
of the mouth of Brandywine creek, it became necessary to remove part
of a small mound, so situated in the valley of a small rivulet as,
at first, to induce doubts as to its being artificial. However, in
the process of excavation, the remains of one or more human skeletons
were found, also a gun barrel, and perhaps some of the mountings of
the stock. In relation to the last I am not positive, but distinctly
remember a circular brass plate or disc perhaps one sixteenth of an
inch in thickness, with (I think) «raised» letters and figures on one
side, which exhibited a French calendar, so arranged as to serve for
a century. I may mistake the duration for which it was intended, but
give the above as my decided impression. I do not recollect the date,
but think it was near the middle of the seventeenth century,—say 1640
or thereabouts.”

Several silver crosses, a number of small bags of vermilion, and
other relics, were discovered not long since by Mr. C. A. VAUGHN,
of Cincinnati, in some mounds excavated by that gentleman in the
vicinity of Beardstown, Ill. They were found with skeletons, a few
feet below the surface.

[102] The skull of this skeleton, which is singularly large and
massive, is now in the possession of Samuel G. Morton, M.D., of
Philadelphia. It is of the same conformation with those of the recent
Indians which surround it in his extensive collection.

[103] Amongst the Mexicans, burial by fire was generally practised.
Clavigero mentions a fact, in connection with their funeral rites,
which may serve to elucidate the point here raised, viz that burial
«in the vicinity of some altar or temple, or in the sacred places
where sacrifices were made», was often sought by the Mexicans:

“There was no fixed place for burials. Many ordered their ashes to
be buried near some temple or altar, some in the fields, and others
in their sacred places in the mountains where sacrifices used to
be made. The ashes of the kings and lords were, for the most part,
deposited in the towers of the temples, especially those of the
greater temple.”—«Clavigero, American Edition», vol ii. p. 108;
«Acosta in Purchas», vol. iii. p. 1029.



[Illustration: Fig. 49.—GROUP OF SEPULCHRAL MOUNDS.]

Mounds of this class are very numerous. They are generally of
considerable size, varying from six to eighty feet in height, but
having an average altitude of from fifteen to twenty or twenty-five
feet. They stand without the walls of enclosures, at a distance more
or less remote from them. Many are isolated, with no other monuments
near them; but they frequently occur in groups, sometimes in close
connection with each other, and exhibiting a dependence which was
probably not without its meaning. They are destitute of altars, nor
do they possess that regularity which characterizes the “temple
mounds.” Their usual form is that of a simple cone; sometimes they
are elliptical or pear-shaped.

These mounds invariably cover a skeleton, (in very rare instances
more than one, as in the case of the Grave creek mound,) which at
the time of its interment was enveloped in bark or coarse matting,
or enclosed in a rude sarcophagus of timber,—the traces, in some
instances the very casts of which remain. Occasionally the chamber
of the dead is built of stone, rudely laid up, without cement of
any kind. Burial by fire seems to have been frequently practised by
the mound-builders. Urn burial also appears to have prevailed, to a
considerable extent, in the Southern States.

With the skeletons in these mounds are found various remains of art,
comprising [p162] ornaments, utensils, and weapons. The structure
and contents of a few mounds of this class will sufficiently explain
their general character.

[Illustration: Fig. 50.]

[Illustration: Fig. 51.]

Fig. 50 exhibits a section of a large sepulchral mound situated on
the third terrace, on the east bank of the Scioto river, about six
miles below the city of Chillicothe.[104] It is the largest of the
group, represented in the cut (Fig. 49) at the head of this chapter.
There are no enclosures nearer than a mile; though there are three
or four other mounds of smaller size, on the same terrace, within
a few hundred yards. The mound is twenty-two feet high by ninety
feet base. The principal excavation was made (as represented in the
section) from the west side, commencing at about one third of the
height of the mound from the top, and was carried in a slanting
direction towards the centre. The soil of the mound is a sandy loam,
entirely homogeneous throughout, though much compacted and slightly
different in color towards the centre, where water cannot penetrate.
At ten feet below the surface occurred a layer of charcoal, «a», not
far from ten feet square, and from two to six inches in thickness,
slightly inclined from the horizontal, and lying mostly to the left
of the centre of the mound. The coal was coarse and clear, and seemed
to have been formed by the sudden covering up of the wood while
burning, inasmuch as the trunks and branches perfectly retained their
form, though entirely carbonized, and the earth immediately above as
well as beneath was burned of a reddish color. Below this layer, the
earth became much more compact and difficult of excavation. At the
depth of twenty-two feet, and on a level with the original surface,
immediately underneath the charcoal layer, and, like that, somewhat
to one side of the centre of the mound, was a rude sarcophagus or
framework of timber, Fig. 51, now reduced to an almost impalpable
powder, but the «cast» of which was still retained in the hard
earth. This enclosure of timber, measuring from outside to outside,
was nine feet long by seven wide, and twenty inches high. It had
been constructed of unhewn logs laid one upon the other, and had
evidently been covered with other timbers, which had sunk under the
superincumbent earth, as they decayed. The bottom had also been
covered with bark, matting, or thin slabs of wood,—at any rate, a
whitish stratum of decomposed material remained, covering [p163]
the bottom of the parallelogram. Within this rude coffin, with its
head to the west, was found a human skeleton, or rather the remains
of one; for scarcely a fragment as long as one’s finger could be
recovered. It was so much decayed that it crumbled to powder under
the lightest touch. Of course, no portion of the cranium, of the
slightest value for purposes of comparison, was recovered.

Around the neck of the skeleton, forming a triple row, and retaining
their position as originally strung and deposited with the dead,
were several hundred beads, made of the compact portion of marine
shells and of the tusks of some animal. Several of these still retain
their polish, and bear marks which seem to indicate that they were
turned in some machine, instead of being carved or rubbed into shape
by hand. A few laminæ of mica were also discovered; which completed
the list of articles deposited with this skeleton, of which any
traces remained. The feet of the skeleton were about in the centre
of the mound; a drift beyond it disclosed nothing new, nor was a
corresponding layer of charcoal found on the opposite side of the
mound. It is clear, therefore, that the tumulus was raised over this
single skeleton.

As a general rule, to which this mound furnished one of a very few
exceptions, whatever occurs in the mounds, whether they be sepulchral
or sacrificial in their purposes, is deposited immediately beneath
the apex and on a level with the circumjacent plain.[105] The
predominance of storms from a certain direction, and various other
circumstances, may have contributed to alter the apparent centre of
the mound. In the case of a mound of this kind which was opened at
Gallipolis on the Ohio river, the skeleton was found in a «cist»,
or chamber, excavated beneath the original surface. This can always
be detected by a strongly marked line and the uniform drab color of
the earth below it. The superstructure of the mounds is more or less
mottled, as the materials entering into their composition are variant
in character and color,—a circumstance which has elsewhere been
sufficiently explained.

The charcoal layer is a frequent though by no means an invariable
feature in mounds of this class, and would seem to indicate that
sacrifices were made for the dead, or funeral rites of some
description, in which fire performed a part, celebrated. This is
further confirmed by the fact that fragments of bones and some few
stone implements have been discovered in the layer of charcoal. The
fire in every case was kept burning for a very little time, as is
shown from the lack of ashes, and by the slight traces of its action
left on the adjacent earth. That it was suddenly heaped over while
glowing, is also certain.

A smaller mound, standing close by the one above described, was also
excavated, but without any satisfactory results. It is probable the
investigation was not sufficiently thorough. [p164]

[Illustration: Fig. 52.]

[Illustration: Fig. 53.]

Fig. 52. This tumulus, selected as a type of the second description
of sepulchral mounds, is situated upon the broad and beautiful
terrace on which Chillicothe stands; about one mile to the north of
that town.[106] It is fifteen feet in height by sixty-five or seventy
feet base, and is composed of earth taken up from the surrounding
plain. A shaft eight feet square was sunk from the apex. Nothing
worthy of remark was observed in the progress of the excavation,
until the skeleton at the base of the mound was reached. It was
deposited with its head towards the south; and, unlike the one above
described, had been simply enveloped in bark, instead of having been
enclosed in a chamber of timbers. The course of preparation for the
burial seemed to have been as follows: The surface of the ground
was first carefully levelled and packed, over an area perhaps ten
or fifteen feet square. This area was then covered with sheets of
bark, on which, in the centre, the body of the dead was deposited,
with a few articles of stone at its side, and a few small ornaments
near the head. It was then covered over with another layer of bark,
and the mound heaped above. This skeleton was better preserved
than the one last mentioned, but not sufficiently well to be of
much value for purposes of comparison. The skull was found broken
into small fragments and completely flattened beneath the weight
of the mound, which had been so great as to imbed the bones in the
original level; so that, when the fragments were removed, a nearly
perfect mould of the skeleton was exhibited. The subject had been
a man of the ordinary size, not exceeding five feet ten inches in
height. The lower maxillary or jaw-bone, wanting the «condyles»,
was recovered. It exhibited some remarkable features, which will
be noticed elsewhere. The articles found with the skeleton were
few in number, and consisted of a stone tube and a stone implement
or ornament, designed probably for suspension. The latter is three
inches [p165] long, one and a half broad, and three fourths of an
inch in thickness, and weighs five ounces. Both articles are composed
of a compact limestone, the surface of which was originally highly
polished. Near the head of the skeleton were found a couple of
bear’s teeth which, from their position, were probably used as ear
ornaments. Just at the head and also at the foot of the skeleton had
been placed a small stick of timber, probably to retain the covering
of bark in its place. That the envelope of the skeleton, in this
case, was bark and not matting, was shown from the texture of the
material, which was distinctly to be traced in the decomposed mass,
as well as from other circumstances. From certain indications, it
was, at first, thought the bark in the vicinity of the skeleton had
been painted of a red color, as portions adhered to the bones, giving
them a reddish tinge. This probably resulted from other and natural

The charcoal layer was not observed in this mound, though it may
have existed to one side or the other of the excavation. Several
other large mounds occur on the plain in the vicinity of the one here
described, a number of which were examined with similar results.
It may be observed that in most instances, in mounds of this
description, the skeleton is found enveloped in bark or matting,
(it is difficult in some cases to decide which,) instead of being
enclosed in a chamber of timber.

[Illustration: Fig. 54.]

Fig. 54 exhibits a section of a mound in which burial by fire had
been practised.[107] It is situated within the corporate limits
of the city of Chillicothe, and was originally above twenty-five
feet in height, though now reduced to about twenty. The customary
shaft was sunk from its apex. At six feet below the surface a layer
of charcoal, corresponding in all respects with that described in
connection with the first example of mounds of this class, was
found. It was placed a little to the eastern side of the mound, a
circumstance not shown in the figure, which exhibits a section from
north to south. Upon the original level of the earth was found a
deposit or layer of charcoal and ashes six or eight feet square and
from six inches to a foot in thickness. In this layer were discovered
fragments of human bones; a stone hand-axe; several thin pieces
of copper which had been worked into shape; and also a number of
stones of the harder and less common kinds, fragments of sienite,
gneiss, etc. The stone hand-axe here obtained, it is a remarkable
fact, is the only one which has been recovered from the mounds,
which incontestibly belonged to [p166] the builders. Several of
like character have nevertheless been found elsewhere. It is figured
under the head of «Implements». The fire in this case had been a
strong one, as is evidenced from the fact that the skeleton had
here been almost entirely consumed. That it had also been heaped
over while burning, was shown by the charcoal, which was coarse and
clear, and by the baking of the earth immediately above it. In some
instances, in which burial by incremation has been practised, the
entire skeleton is traceable. In such cases it has been observed
that the charcoal occurs beneath as well as above the skeleton,
demonstrating that the body had been placed upon a pyre of some sort
before burning. Remains of art, for obvious reasons, are not abundant
in this description of sepulchral mounds; nor is the supplementary
charcoal layer of frequent occurrence.

The gradual slope, resembling a graded way, upon the southern side of
this mound, is a feature not easily explained. It would seem at first
glance to be designed as a passage to the top. The more probable
conclusion however is, that it is a supplementary mound, which by
cultivation and the lapse of time has become so merged in the larger
one at its side as not to be distinguishable from it. Sepulchral
mounds of various sizes, joining and running into each other, are
common. This mound is nearer to enclosures than any other of the
class yet examined.

Mounds of this, as well as of the first class, were often disturbed
by the later Indians. Their remains are frequently found, in some
cases in large quantities, as if the mound had been used for a long
period as a general burial-place. Such was the case with a large
mound, situated six miles above the town of Chillicothe, in which
a great number of burials had been made, at various depths, from
eighteen inches to four feet. The skeletons were, in places, two
or three deep, and placed without arrangement in respect to each
other. Some were evidently of a more ancient date than others,
showing, from their condition as well as position, that they had
been deposited at different periods. One or two were observed in
which the skull had been fractured by blows from a hatchet or other
instrument, establishing that the individual had met a violent death.
With some, rude vessels of pottery, and stone and bone implements,
had been deposited; and, in a small mound close by, a «silver
cross», of French origin, was discovered,—all going to establish the
comparatively recent date of these burials. In sinking a shaft five
feet square, no less than «seven» skeletons, the lowest about four
feet from the surface, were exposed. Beneath all of these, at the
depth of fourteen feet and near the base of the mound, were found
traces of the «original deposit» of the mound-builders. In this
case, had the investigation been less complete, it might have been
concluded that this mound was a grand receptacle of the dead, and
“contained many thousand human skeletons.” Another proof is here
furnished of the necessity of thoroughness in explorations of this
character, in order to arrive at correct conclusions.

The ceremonies of interment, so far as we are enabled to deduce
them from these monuments, were conducted with great regularity and
system. None of those disturbances mentioned by various writers,
where the remains seem to have been heaped together without order
and without care, have been observed in the course of these
investigations, except in cases where recent deposits had been made.
[p167] On the contrary, all the circumstances seem to indicate that
burial was a solemn and deliberate rite, regulated by fixed customs
of, perhaps, religious or superstitious origin. It is possible that
in certain cases, a special practice was prescribed. We may thus
account for the presence or absence of the charcoal layers, and
also for the practice of incremation in some instances and simple
inhumation in others.[108]

In a very few of the sepulchral mounds, a rude enclosure of stone
was placed around the skeleton, corresponding to that of timber in
others. No mounds possessing this peculiarity fell under notice
during the investigations here recorded: there can, however, be
no doubt of the fact. A mound within the limits of Chillicothe
was removed a number of years since, in which a stone coffin,
corresponding very nearly with the «kistvaen» of the English
antiquaries, was discovered. The stones are said to have been laid up
with great regularity.[109] In some instances a pile of stones seems
to have been heaped carelessly over the skeleton; in others it was
heaped upon the timbers covering the sepulchral chamber, as in the
mound at Grave creek.

«Urn burial» does not seem to have been practised in the valley of
the Ohio. It is nevertheless undoubted that in some of the Southern
States, by either the ancient races or the more modern Indians,
burials of this character were frequent. This is sufficiently
established by the discovery in the mounds and elsewhere, of earthen
vessels containing human remains, generally but not always burned. In
the mounds on the Wateree river, near Camden, South Carolina, ranges
of vases, filled with human remains, were discovered. A detailed
account of these is given by Dr. Blanding, in a preceding chapter.
(See page 106.) When unburnt, the skeletons seem to have been packed
in the vase, after the flesh had decomposed. Sometimes, when the
mouth of the vase is small, the skull is placed, face downwards, in
the opening, constituting a sort of cover. Entire cemeteries have
been found, in which urn burial alone seems to have been practised.
Such a one was accidentally discovered, not many years since, in St.
Catharine’s island, on the coast of Georgia. The vases were coarse
in material, of rude workmanship, from eighteen to twenty inches
in height, and filled with burned human bones. One of the vases
from this locality is now deposited in the museum of the Georgia
Historical Society.[110] [p168]

The relics of art found in these mounds possess great uniformity of
character. Personal ornaments are most common, such as bracelets,
perforated plates of copper, and beads of bone, ivory, shell, or
metal. Few weapons, such as spear or arrow points, are found; stone
implements are more common. Many of these articles are identical
with those found in mounds of the first class. Plates of mica
are of frequent occurrence; they are sometimes of large size and
considerable thickness. Instances are known in which this material
has been found in vast quantities, dispersed over and sometimes
completely covering the skeleton. It seems not unlikely that a degree
of superstitious regard attached to it, or that it was sacred to
certain purposes. The plates are often cut into regular figures,
discs, ovals, etc. Vases of pottery are occasionally, but not often,
found. Of all these varieties of relics appropriate notice will be
taken in a subsequent chapter.

In all of the sepulchral mounds opened and examined in the course
of these investigations, with a single exception, the human remains
have been found so much decayed as to render any attempt to restore
the skull, or indeed any portion of the skeleton, entirely hopeless.
With this experience, it is considered extremely doubtful whether any
of the numerous skulls which have been sent abroad and exhibited as
undoubted remains of the mound-builders, were really such. A few are
possibly genuine; this can only be determined by a full understanding
of the circumstances under which they were obtained. The fact that
they were found in the mounds, in view of the variety of deposits
which have been made at different periods, is hardly presumptive
evidence that they belonged to the builders.

Considering that the earth around these skeletons is wonderfully
compact and dry, and that the conditions for their preservation are
exceedingly favorable, while they are in fact so much decayed, we
may form some approximate estimate of their remote antiquity. In
the barrows of the ancient Britons, entire well-preserved skeletons
are found, although possessing an undoubted antiquity of at least
eighteen hundred years. Local causes may produce singular results,
in particular instances, but we speak now of these remains in the

It has already been observed, that, as a general rule, each mound was
raised over a single individual. The mound at Grave creek furnishes
the only exception to the remark within the range of our observation.
The mounds of the Southern States are probably of different
construction, and some of them may perhaps be regarded as general

[Illustration: Fig. 55.]

[Illustration: Fig. 56.—GREAT MOUND AT GRAVE CREEK.]

The Grave creek mound, although it has often been described,
deserves, from its size and singularity of construction, more than
a passing notice. It is situated on the plain, at the junction of
Grave creek and the Ohio river, twelve miles below Wheeling, in the
State of Virginia. It occurs in connection with various works now
much obliterated, but is not enclosed by circumvallations. It is one
of the largest in the Ohio valley; measuring about seventy feet in
height, by one thousand [p169] in circumference at the base. It was
excavated by the proprietor in 1838. He sank a shaft from the apex
of the mound to the base, («b a», Fig. 55,) intersecting it at that
point by a horizontal drift («a e e»). It was found to contain two
sepulchral chambers, one at the base, («a»,) and another thirty feet
above («c»). These chambers had been constructed of logs, and covered
with stones, which had sunk under the superincumbent mass as the wood
decayed, giving the summit of the mound a flat or rather dish-shaped
form.[111] The lower chamber contained two human skeletons (one
of which was thought to be that of a female); the upper chamber
contained but one skeleton in an advanced stage of decay. With these
were found between three and four thousand shell beads, a number
of ornaments of mica, several bracelets of copper, and various
articles carved in stone. After the excavation of the mound, a light
three-story wooden structure was erected upon its summit. It is
indicated by «b» in the section. [p170]

In respect to the number of sepulchral chambers and enclosed
skeletons, this mound is quite extraordinary. It may be conjectured
with some show of reason, that it contained the bones of the family
of a chieftain, or distinguished individual among the tribes of the

It is common to find two or three, sometimes four or five, sepulchral
mounds in a group. In such cases it is always to be remarked that one
of the group is much the largest, twice or three times the dimensions
of any of the others; and that the smaller ones, of various sizes,
are arranged around its base, generally joining it, thus evincing a
designed dependence and intimate relation between them.

[Illustration: Fig. 57.]

Plans of three groups of this description are herewith presented,
Fig. 57.

NUMBER 1 is situated six miles below Hamilton, Butler county, Ohio.
The relative sizes, positions, etc., of the mounds composing it, are
indicated in the plan. The largest is twenty-seven feet high; the
rest range from four to ten feet in height. [p171]

NUMBER 2 occurs upon the plain in the immediate vicinity of
Chillicothe, and is numbered 4 in the Map of a section of the Scioto
valley, Plate II. The small one indicated by the letter «j» was
excavated, and found to contain the skeleton of a girl enveloped in
bark, in the manner already described. The largest of the group is
about thirty feet in height.

NUMBER 3 is situated in Pike county, Ohio, and is indicated in the
plan of the “Graded Way” near Piketon, Plate XXXI.

Something like this arrangement was observed by Com. WILKES, in the
mounds of Oregon. They occurred in groups of five, as shown in Fig.
58,—the largest occupying the centre.

[Illustration: Fig. 58.]

May we not conclude that these groups are family tombs; the principal
mound containing the head of the family, the smaller ones its various
members? In the case of the Grave creek mound, it is possible that,
instead of building an additional mound, a supplementary chamber
was constructed upon a mound already raised,—a single mound being
thus made to fill the place of a group. This suggestion derives
some support from the fact that the second chamber is placed, above
the lower vault, at about the usual height of the larger sepulchral

It is not to be supposed that the mounds were the sole cemeteries
of the race that built them. They were probably erected only over
the bodies of the chieftains and priests, perhaps also over the
ashes of distinguished families. The graves of the great mass of the
ancient people who thronged our valleys, and the silent monuments
of whose toil are seen on every hand, were not thus signalized.
We scarcely know where to turn to find them. Every day the plough
uncovers crumbling remains; but they elicit no remark,—are passed
by and forgotten. The wasting banks of our rivers occasionally
display extensive cemeteries, but sufficient attention has never
been bestowed upon them to enable us to speak with any degree of
certainty of their date, or to distinguish whether they belonged to
the mound-builders or a subsequent race. These cemeteries are often
of such extent, as to give a name to the locality in which they
occur. Thus we hear, on the Wabash, of the “Big Bone Bank,” and the
“Little Bone Bank,” from which, it is represented, the river annually
washes many human skeletons, accompanied by numerous and singular
remains of art, among which are more particularly mentioned vases and
other vessels of pottery, of remarkable and often fantastic form.
At various places in the States north of the Ohio, thousands of
graves are said to occur, placed in ranges parallel to each other.
The extensive cemeteries of Tennessee and Missouri have often been
mentioned, and it has been conjectured that the caves of Kentucky
and Ohio were grand depositories of the dead of the ancient people.
We have, however, nothing at all satisfactory upon the subject,
[p172] which still continues to invite investigation. It is not
improbable that many of the dead were burned, and that their ashes
were heaped together, constituting mounds. Such an inference may not
unreasonably be drawn from certain facts which will be presented when
we come to speak of the anomalous or unclassified mounds. It may
however be remarked in this connection, that no very distinct traces
of the ancient burial-places can be expected to be found. If, from
the mounds where, from their protection from the action of moisture
and other decomposing causes, the enclosed remains would be most
likely to be well preserved, it is found almost impossible to recover
a single entire bone, it is not to be wondered at that the remains
of the common dead are now nearly or quite undistinguishable from
the mould which surrounds them. The apparent absence therefore of
any general cemeteries of the era of the mounds, may be regarded as
another and strong evidence of the remote antiquity of the monuments
of the West.

It should be remarked before proceeding further, that the position
of the mound-skeletons, in respect to the east or any other point of
the compass, is never fixed. They are nearly always found disposed
at length, with their arms carefully adjusted at their sides. None
have been discovered in a sitting posture, except among the recent
deposits; and, even among these, no uniformity exists: some are
extended at length, others lie upon their sides bent nearly double,
others still in a sitting posture; and in a few cases it seems that
the bones, after the decomposition of the flesh, had been rudely
huddled together in a narrow grave.[113]


[104] Numbered 1, in the “Map of a section of twelve miles of the
Scioto valley,” Plate II.

[105] “In the investigation of barrows, marks of interment are
frequently found near the surface; but investigation must not
terminate upon such a discovery. Experience has convinced me that
these were subsequent interments, and that the primary deposit was
«always laid on the floor of the barrow, or within a cist in the
native soil»”—«Sir R. C. Hoare on the Barrows and Tumuli of Great

[106] Numbered 2 in Map Plate II.

[107] Numbered 3 in the Map, Plate II

[108] Among the ancient Mexicans the dead were burned, except in
cases where death had been caused by leprosy or other incurable
disease of that order. Boys under seventeen years of age were also
denied that sacred rite. The Hurons, on the other hand, burned the
bodies of those who had been drowned or killed by lightning.

[109] This feature was remarked by Mr. LESUEUR, in some of the mounds
opened by him, in the vicinity of New Harmony, Indiana. He found, at
the base of several, a level space, upon which was a right-angled,
oblong parallelogram, formed of flat stones, set edgewise and
covered over with similar stones. Some decayed bones were found in
them.—«Travels in North America by Prince Maximilian», p. 80.

[110] Rev. WM. B. STEVENS, Athens, Ga.

[111] In the construction of this mound the builders had availed
themselves of a small natural elevation, above which the tumulus was
raised. The vault «a» had been sunk in this elevation. It was an
exact parallelogram, constructed by setting upright timbers around
the sides and covering these with logs placed horizontally, above
which were piled a quantity of loose stones. The second vault appears
to have been smaller than the first, but corresponded with it in

For detailed descriptions of this mound and its contents, see an
account by Dr. CLEMENS, published in 1839, in «Morton’s Crania
Americana», p. 221; by the proprietor of the mound, Mr. TOMLINSON, in
the «American Pioneer» for 1843, vol. ii. pp. 195–203; and by HENRY
R. SCHOOLCRAFT, Esq., in the first volume of the «Transactions of the
American Ethnological Society», 1846.

It should be remarked that some discrepancies exist between these
several accounts. That of Dr. Clemens, which is the earliest,
states that in carrying in the horizontal excavation, “at the
distance of twelve or fifteen feet, were found numerous masses
composed of charcoal and burnt bones. Before reaching the centre, a
passage-way was discovered to a vault at the base; this passage had
an inclination of ten or fifteen degrees, and had been covered with
timbers, of which the impression in the earth alone remained. The
vault itself appeared to have been covered with timbers and loose
stones. After removing all the rubbish from the vault, two skeletons
were found, one on the east, the other on the west side. The former
was the smaller and more perfect of the two. * * * On reaching the
lower vault from the top it was determined to enlarge it for the
accommodation of visitors. In so doing ten more skeletons were
discovered, all in a sitting posture, but in so fragile a state as to
defy all attempts at preservation.”

It may be suggested, that the smaller or female skeleton in the
vault, as well as those surrounding it, were the remains of victims
sacrificed, in accordance with barbarian practice, as attendants in
the world of spirits upon the chieftain, in honor of whom this mound
was erected. This practice was common among the Natchez, Mexicans,
Peruvians, and other aboriginal nations.

[112] The barrows denominated the “Bell Barrows,” of England, are
thought, by English antiquarians, to be a modification of the “Bowl
Barrow,” formed by placing a new top upon the latter, and otherwise
enlarging it, for the purpose of fresh interment. It is common in
this description of barrows, to find one burial above the other, as
at Grave creek.

[113] The North American Indians, in their burials by inhumation,
very generally placed the body in a sitting posture. Their customs
of burial were, however, extremely variant. Some of the tribes to
this day, after enveloping the bodies of their dead, place them
on scaffolds or in the forks of trees. Among some of the Southern
Indians, they were exposed until the flesh parted from the bones,
which were then gathered with various ceremonies and deposited in
the huts of the relatives, the temples of the tribe, “the medicine
house,” or in buildings specially dedicated to the purpose. The
Mexicans, in cases where burial by inhumation was practised, placed
their dead in a sitting position: so too did the Central Americans
and Peruvians, as is sufficiently evidenced by an examination
of their tombs. It is a great mistake, however, to suppose that
the custom was anything like universal either among the ancient
inhabitants of more recent tribes.



[Illustration: Fig. 59.—TERRACED MOUND.]

These mounds are distinguished by their great regularity of form
and general large dimensions. They occur most usually within, but
sometimes without, the walls of enclosures. They consist chiefly
of pyramidal structures, truncated, and generally having graded
avenues to their tops. In some instances they are terraced, or have
successive stages. But whatever their form, whether round, oval,
octangular, square, or oblong, they have invariably flat or level
tops, of greater or less area. Examples are known in which, although
but a few feet in elevation, they cover several acres of ground; in
which cases they are commonly called “platforms.”

Mounds of this class are not numerous in Ohio, and it is believed are
only found at Marietta, Newark, Portsmouth, and in the vicinity of
Chillicothe. These are all described, and their predominant features
illustrated, in the accounts of the works at the several points where
they occur, to which attention is directed. (See Plates XVIII, XXV,
XXVI.) Those at Marietta are situated within an enclosure; those at
Newark and near Chillicothe, in close connection with small circles
upon which they seem to have some degree of dependence. So far as
ascertained, they cover no remains, and seem obviously designed as
the sites of temples or of other structures which have passed away,
or as “high places” for the performance of certain ceremonies. The
likeness which they bear to the «Teocallis» of Mexico is striking,
and suggestive of their probable purposes.

In addition to the pyramidal structures here noticed, there are
others somewhat [p174] different in their forms, but which were
undoubtedly appropriated to the same purpose. The mound embraced
in the circular work connected with the Portsmouth group, is an
example. (See Plate XXVIII.) Though much defaced, its original
plan can easily be made out. It is circular, placed on a terrace,
is truncated, and has a spiral pathway leading to its summit. The
purpose already assigned to it, viz. that of a site for a temple, or
a “high place” for the performance of ceremonies probably connected
with the superstitions of the ancient people, is indicated not less
by the peculiarities of its construction, than by the character of
the enclosure in which it is situated.

The feature of truncation is not, however, peculiar to this class of
mounds. It is frequently observed in those which, upon investigation,
are found to be sepulchral in their character; in which cases it is
to be attributed to the falling in of the sepulchral chambers. This
circumstance gave the summit of the Grave creek Mound a hollow or
dish-shaped form, which was a source of much conjecture, until the
excavation of the mound explained the cause.

[Illustration: Fig. 60.]

[Illustration: Fig. 61.]

Along the Mississippi river, and especially as we approach the Gulf,
these regular structures increase both in number and magnitude. In
Kentucky they are more frequent than in the States north of the Ohio
river; and in Tennessee and Mississippi they are still more abundant.
Some of the largest, however, occur in pretty high latitudes. The
great mound at Cahokia, Illinois, is one of the most remarkable.
It has often been described, and all accounts concur in respect
to its great size. The following approximate plan will serve to
give an idea of its general outline. It is of course much rounded,
and its regularity to a great degree destroyed, by the storms and
changes of centuries; its original plan is, however, represented to
be still sufficiently obvious. The form of the mound is that of a
parallelogram, seven hundred feet long by five hundred wide at the
base. It is ninety feet in height. Upon one side is a broad apron
or terrace, which is reached by a graded ascent. At the time this
mound was occupied by the monks of La Trappe, the terrace was used
as a garden. It is one hundred and sixty feet wide and three hundred
and fifty long; the summit or highest part of the mound (A) measures
two hundred feet in width by four hundred and fifty in length.
Here formerly stood a broad, low mound, which was disturbed in
preparing the foundations of a dwelling house. Within it were found
human bones, and various implements of stone and pottery, probably
belonging to a recent deposit. This mound covers not far from eight
acres of ground, and the area of its level summit is about five
acres. Its solid contents may be roughly estimated at twenty millions
of cubic feet.[114] A number of similar mounds, though of less size,
occur in this [p175] vicinity, and others still exist near the city
of St. Louis.[115] Mounds of this class are sometimes surrounded by
low embankments of earth. A fine example is furnished by the large
conical mound at Marietta, of which a view is elsewhere given.
Another occurs on the Virginia shore of the Ohio, nearly opposite the
head of Blennerhassett’s Island (Fig. 61). It is lozenge-shaped, and
is surrounded by a wall and ditch.[116]

Some very remarkable mounds of this class occur in Kentucky, on the
“Long Bottom” of Cumberland river, in Adair county; also near Cadiz,
Trigg county; near Mount Sterling, and in Hickman and McCracken
counties. In Whiteby county is one three hundred and sixty feet long,
one hundred and fifty wide, and twelve high, with graded ascents; and
at Hopkinsville, Christian county, is one of great size, upon which
the court-house is built.

In Bradford county, Tennessee, several extensive terraces or
platforms of earth are said to exist, one of which is represented to
cover three acres. Six miles south-west of Paris, Henry county, is a
terrace four or five feet high and two hundred feet square. It serves
as the site of a dwelling. Similar ones are numerous on Old Town
creek, nine or ten miles westward of Paris. There are others on the
banks of the Cumberland river between Palmyra and Clarkesville, and
a number occur in the vicinity of Knoxville. Some of large size are
found in Missouri, at New Madrid, St. Genevieve and other places.

[Illustration: Fig. 62.]

Fig. 62. A section from east to west of a large mound in Clarke
county, Tennessee, not far from Claiborne. It is situated on a hill,
and is fifty feet in height by four hundred and fifty in diameter at
the base. It is truncated, and has a level area at its summit about
one hundred feet in circumference. It is also terraced and has ten
stages, each of which is not far from five feet above the other. The
terraces are covered with turf; but the slopes exhibit the naked
white clay of which the mound is composed. The stages are interrupted
on the eastern side, where there is a graded ascent.[117] [p176]

[Illustration: Fig. 63.]

Fig. 63. This remarkable mound or terrace occurs near Lovedale,
Woodford county, Kentucky. It is octagonal in form, measuring one
hundred and fifty feet on each side. It has three graded ascents, one
at each of the northern angles and one at the middle of the western
side. It is but little more than five feet in height. Upon it are two
conical mounds, as shown in the plan, and also the dwelling house
of the proprietor. Some distance to the northward of this terrace
are a number of large and deep pits, from which the material for its
construction was probably taken.[118]

[Illustration: Fig. 64.]

Fig. 64. The plan of this mound or terrace sufficiently explains its
character. It is situated three miles from Washington, Mason county,
Kentucky. Its height is ten feet.[119]

No sooner do we arrive in the Southern States, than we find these
Teocalli-shaped structures constituting the most numerous and
important portion of the ancient remains. They preserve very nearly
the same form with those already described, but are generally of
greater size, and enter into many new combinations. Examples of a
considerable number have already been given in the chapter on the
“Monuments of the Southern States.” Here they often occur entirely
separate from enclosures of any sort, and are frequently placed with
a great deal of regularity in respect to each other. It sometimes
happens that a large truncated mound is surrounded by a series
of smaller ones, so as to form an ellipse, circle, square, or
parallelogram.[120] In some instances the various mounds of a group
are connected with each other by raised ways or terraces.

[Illustration: Fig. 65.]

Many of the temple mounds of the South are circular; most have graded
ascents, and a few have a low wall enclosing the level area at their
tops. In Macon and Cherokee counties, North Carolina, quite a number,
answering to this description, are said to exist. A very remarkable
one occurs near the town of Franklin, on the Tennessee river, and
another not far from the town of Murphy, on Valley [p177] river.
They are from twelve to fifteen feet high and of proportionate base.
Their form is best illustrated by the accompanying engraving, Fig.
65. There are no enclosures in the vicinity of these works. It is
said the Indians formerly built their council houses upon them.

Some of these circular mounds, as we have seen in a previous
chapter, were ascended by spiral pathways, winding round them, as
round a shaft, from base to summit. Indeed, it would be impossible
to describe all the various forms which these structures assume;
their general character is however sufficiently illustrated by the
preceding examples.

It often happens that the temple mounds of the South have other
mounds upon their summits. This is especially the case with the
large pyramidal structures. An example is furnished in the great
Seltzertown mound, which is covered with a number of smaller ones.

[Illustration: Fig. 66.—GROUP OF SEPULCHRAL MOUNDS]


[114] Notes on the Antiquities of the Mississippi Valley, by H. H.
Breckenridge, Trans. Am. Phil. Soc. 1813; Views of Louisiana, p.
172, Latrobe, vol. ii, p. 250; Featherstonhaugh’s Travels in North
America, p. 66.

[115] There is an elevation of earth not far from Chicago, in the
northern part of Illinois, which was supposed, for many years, to be
of artificial origin. It is well known as Mount Joliet. It appears,
however, from all direct information that can be gathered concerning
it, that it is simply a natural eminence of regular outline. So far
as we are informed, there are no traces of a great ancient population
in that vicinity, such as we almost invariably find accompanying the
more imposing aboriginal monuments.

[116] On the authority of Charles Sullivan, Esq., Marietta, Ohio.

[117] The description of this mound is from the RAFINESQUE MSS. The
section purports to have been made by a Mr. Ewing.

[118] RAFINESQUE MSS. The survey of this singular monument purports
to have been made in 1820. The then proprietor was a Mr. Ship, the
position of whose residence is shown in the plan.

[119] RAFINESQUE MSS., 1818.

[120] Mounds placed in this manner are of occasional occurrence in
the more northern States. Examples have been remarked in Illinois
and Missouri. Twelve miles south-west of the town of Glasgow, Barren
county, Kentucky, a group is found. The mounds are small, oval,
and placed at intervals of about fifty yards, so as to constitute
a circle of perhaps fifteen hundred feet in circumference. In
the centre of the circular area is a large mound between twenty
and thirty feet in height. These mounds appear to have sustained
structures of some kind.—«Collins’s Kentucky», p. 176.



Besides the mounds already described, the purposes of which seem
pretty clearly indicated, there are many which will admit of no
classification. Some of them possess features in common with all
classes, and seem to have been appropriated to a double purpose;
while others, in our present state of knowledge concerning them,
are entirely inexplicable. As these mounds differ individually from
each other, it is of course impossible to present anything like a
general view of their character. We can therefore only describe a
few of the more remarkable, dismissing the remainder with the single
observation that their features do not indicate any specific design,
and are not sufficiently distinct or uniform to justify or sustain a

One of the most singular of these mounds, and one which best
illustrates the remark that certain mounds were probably made to
subserve a double purpose, is situated within a large enclosure on
the east bank of the Scioto river. (Marked «c e», Plate XX.) A plan
and section of the mound are herewith presented (Fig. 67).

[Illustration: Fig. 67.]

It is an irregular oval in form, and is one hundred and sixty feet
long, ninety broad at its larger end, and twenty feet in height.
Excavations were made at the points indicated in the section. The one
towards the right or smaller end of the mound disclosed an enclosure
of timber, eight feet square, and similar, in all respects, to those
found in the sepulchral mounds, except that, in this instance, posts
eight inches in diameter had been planted at the outer corners, as
if to sustain the structure. These posts had been inserted eighteen
inches in the [p179] original level or floor of the mound. The holes
left by their decay were found filled with decomposed material; when
this was removed, they exhibited perfect «casts» of the timbers.
The casts also of the horizontal timbers were well retained in the
compact earth, and one of the workmen, without much difficulty, was
enabled to creep more than half the way around the enclosure which
they had formed. Within this chamber the earth was as firm as in any
portion of the mound. Upon removing a portion, a skeleton partly
burned was found, and with it a thin copper plate seven inches long
and four broad, perforated with two small holes; also a large pipe
of bold outline, carved from a dark compact porphyry (Fig. 68). The
bones seemed to have been enveloped in a species of matting, which
was too much decayed to be distinctly made out. The floor of the
mound, it should be mentioned, so far as explored, was composed
of clay, was perfectly level, and had been burned to considerable

[Illustration: Fig. 68.—Half size.]

The second excavation (B) was made in the larger end of the mound,
somewhat to one side of the centre, at a spot marked by a depression
in the surface. At the depth of twenty feet was found an altar of
clay of exceeding symmetry. This was sunk, as shown in the section,
in the general level or floor of the mound, and had been surrounded
by an enclosure in all respects similar to the one above described,
except that the timbers had been less in size. A fine carbonaceous
deposit, resembling burned leaves, was found within the altar.
Amongst the decayed materials of the surrounding enclosure were found
several «skewers», if we may so term them, in lack of a better name,
made of the bones («ulna») of the deer. They were finely tapered to
a point, and had evidently been originally highly polished. Some
were not less than nine or ten inches long. Though apparently sound,
they were found to be exceedingly brittle, retaining little if any
of their animal matter. Drifts were carried in the course shown in
the section, and the evidences of another enclosure discovered. The
excavation was suspended at this point, in consequence of heavy and
continued rains. The holes soon became partly filled by the caving in
of the loose earth near the surface; which discouraging circumstance,
joined to the extreme difficulty of digging,[121] prevented a
resumption of [p180] the investigation. It is very certain that
another, perhaps several other chambers are concealed by this mound.

The surface of this mound was covered with the layer of pebbles and
coarse gravel already mentioned as characterizing the mounds of
the first class; but the sand strata were absent. Around the base
had been laid, with some degree of regularity, a large quantity of
flat stones, constituting a sort of wall for the better support
of the earth. These stones must have been brought from the hills,
which are here nearly half a mile distant. Why the altar as well as
the skeleton had been enclosed, and why the floor of the mound had
been so carefully levelled, cast over with clay, and then hardened
by fire, are questions which will probably remain unanswered and
unexplained unless future investigations serve further to elucidate
the mystery of the mounds. At any rate, this singular mound can prove
no greater puzzle to the reader than it has to the authors of these

A detached mound stands on the bank of Walnut creek, about three
miles below the one just described, which is entirely anomalous in
its character. It is about nine feet in height by forty base. The
following section will best explain its construction.

[Illustration: Fig. 69.]

Fig. 69. The principal portion of the mound, which is darkly shaded
in the section, resembles long exposed and highly compacted ashes,
and is intermingled with specks of charcoal, small bits of burned
bones, and fragments of sandstone much burned. Beneath this, and
forming the nucleus as it were of the entire mound, is a mass of
very pure white clay, of somewhat regular outline; but whether this
regularity was accidental or designed, it is not undertaken to say.
The clay rested upon the original soil, and did not appear to have
been subjected in any degree to the action of fire. The carbonaceous
deposit, if we may so regard it, seems from this circumstance to
have been brought here and not to have been produced by burning on
the spot. The mound could not possibly have been designed for a
«look-out», inasmuch as it stands immediately at the base of the
table lands, and commands but a very limited view.

Two other mounds, numbered 6 and 7 in the map, Plate II, exhibited
some features in common with the one last mentioned, though neither
had the clay deposit at the base. After penetrating a foot or
twenty inches into these, traces of ashes and other carbonaceous
matter, with here and there small quantities of burned bones in fine
fragments, became abundant,—indeed the remainder of the mound seemed
entirely constituted of such materials. In some instances, if not
in all, the fragments of calcined bones were of the human skeleton.
It has been suggested that these mounds were composed of the ashes
of the dead, burned elsewhere, but finally thus heaped together. It
is not impossible that such was the case in a few instances, though
mounds possessing these features are too few in number and too small
in size to justify the conclusion that such was the general custom.

A number of mounds, principally within enclosures, have been
examined, which exhibited only a level, hard-packed area at their
base, thinly covered with a [p181] fine-grained, carbonaceous
material similar to that which is sometimes found on the altars, and
which has several times been described as resembling burned leaves
or straw. It has been suggested that sacrifices or offerings of
vegetables or the “first fruits” of the year were sometimes made, of
which these traces alone remain.

In one or two small mounds, deposits of arrow or spear points of
flint have been found. The little mound No. 8 in the map, Plate II,
contained a pile in its centre of twenty or more, each one broken
into two or three pieces. They had not been exposed to the action of
fire. In shape they are singular, differing materially from those
usually found scattered over the fields, and are exceedingly thin and
well wrought. It is fruitless to conjecture why they were thus broken
up, or why indeed the simple deposit was made at all.

A few small mounds have been observed composed entirely of pebbles,
of the average size of one’s fist, unmixed with earth, excepting what
had gradually accumulated over them. Several of those surrounding the
great work on Paint creek (Plate XXI, No. 2) are of this description,
and are supposed, by the residents of the vicinity, to be the
missiles of the ancient people, thus conveniently deposited for use
in case of an attack upon the supposed fortress! Unfortunately for
this hypothesis, the magazines are outside of the walls.

It would prove an almost endless and perhaps an entirely unprofitable
task to describe the peculiarities of individual mounds, not
referable to either of the grand classes already noticed. Most
of them appear inexplicable; not more so, however, than did the
sacrificial or altar mounds when first noticed, and it is likely
that more extended investigations may also serve to explain their
purposes. The examples above presented are adduced to show that,
while the leading purposes of the mounds (of Ohio at least) have been
detected and settled, there is yet much left for future explorations
to determine.


It has already been several times remarked, that the most commanding
positions on the hills bordering the valleys of the West, are often
crowned with mounds, generally of intermediate, but sometimes of
large size,—suggesting at once the purposes to which some of the
«cairns» or hill-mounds of the Celts were applied, namely, that of
signal or alarm posts.

Ranges of these mounds may be observed extending along the valleys
for many miles. Between Chillicothe and Columbus, on the eastern
border of the Scioto valley, not far from twenty may be selected, so
placed in respect to each other, that it is believed, if the country
were cleared of forests, signals of fire might be transmitted in a
few minutes along the whole line. On a hill opposite Chillicothe,
nearly six hundred feet in height, the loftiest in the entire region,
one of [p182] these mounds is placed. After the fall of the leaves
in autumn, it is a conspicuous object from every work laid down on
the Map of a section of twelve miles of the Scioto valley, to which
such frequent reference has been made, as well as from other works
not exhibited in the map. It is indicated by the figure 5 in this
map. A fire built upon it would be distinctly visible for fifteen or
twenty miles up, and an equal distance down the valley, (including in
its range the Circleville works, twenty miles distant,) as also for a
long way up the broad valleys of the two Paint creeks,—both of which
abound in remains, and seem to have been especial favorites with the
mound-builders. In the Map of six miles of the Miami valley, (Plate
III,) a similar feature will be observed. Upon a hill three hundred
feet in height, overlooking the Colerain work, and commanding an
extensive view of the valley, are placed two mounds, which exhibit—in
connection with other circumstances not entirely consistent with the
conclusion that they were simple signal-stations—strong marks of fire
on and around them. Similar mounds occur, at intervals, along the
Wabash and Illinois rivers, as also on the Upper Mississippi, the
Ohio, the Miamis, and the Scioto. On the high hills overlooking the
Portsmouth and Marietta works, (Plates XXVI and XXVII,) mounds of
stone are situated; those at the former place exhibit evident marks
of fire. On the heights around the works at Grave creek in Virginia,
similar features have been observed.[122] A trip of exploration, made
with special reference to this and kindred points, disclosed the
fact that, between the mouths of the Scioto and Guyandotte rivers,
the hills upon both sides of the Ohio, for the entire distance, were
studded with mounds. Many of them, however, occurred in groups,
their bases joining, and were placed so far back from the brow of
the hills as to be entirely invisible from the valley,—facts wholly
opposed to the hypothesis which ascribes a common purpose to all of
the hill-mounds. Indeed, for the distance above specified, these
mounds, though less in size, seemed quite as numerous as those in the
valley; in which, besides mounds and a few small circles, no works of
magnitude were discovered,—another fact which may not be without its
importance in this connection.

Some of the hill-mounds bordering on the Ohio have been opened by
explorers, and found to contain human remains, but whether of an
ancient or modern date, it is difficult, from the imperfect nature of
the accounts, to determine. The remarkable mound already mentioned,
situated on the high hill near Chillicothe, was opened some twelve
or fifteen years ago; and, it is said, human remains and a variety
of relics were discovered in it. Although the investigation of this
class of mounds has, from a variety of causes, been comparatively
limited, yet enough has been ascertained concerning them, to justify
the belief that a large proportion contain human remains, undoubtedly
those of the mound-builders. And, although traces of fire are to be
observed around very many, the marks are not sufficiently strong to
sustain the inference that all were look-outs, and that fires were
kindled upon them as signals. It is not impossible that a portion
were devoted to sepulture, another portion to observation, and that
some answered a double purpose. [p183] This is a point which remains
to be settled by the disclosures of the mattock and spade, and by a
close and extended observation of the dependences which exist, not
only between the hill-mounds themselves, but between them and the
other monuments of the same people.

It may perhaps seem, from what has been adduced, that the
classification of any portion of the hill-mounds as places of
observation, is not sufficiently well authorized. The positions
however which many of them occupy, are such as would most naturally
be chosen for such purposes, though not necessarily for such only.
The apparent dependence which exists between some of them and the
larger earthworks would also seem to favor the idea that they were
look-outs. But whether signal-stations or otherwise, there can be
no doubt that the ancient people selected prominent and elevated
positions upon which to build large fires, which were kept burning
for long periods, or renewed at frequent intervals. For what purposes
they were built, whether to communicate intelligence or to celebrate
some religious rite, it is not undertaken to say.[123] The traces
of these fires are only observed upon the brows of the hills: they
appear to have been built generally upon heaps of stones, which
are broken up and sometimes partially vitrified. In all cases they
exhibit marks of intense and protracted heat. They are vulgarly
supposed to be the remains of “«furnaces»,” from the amount of
scoriaceous material accompanying them, which often covers a large
area, and is several feet in thickness. This popular error has led to
some very extravagant conjectures as to the former mineral wealth of
the vicinity in which they occur; an error which has been perpetuated
in various works on American antiquities.

The dependence which exists between certain mounds, and the defensive
structures within or near which they are located, is too evident
to admit of doubt. It has already been made a subject of remark,
(page 43,) and need only be referred to here. In the case of the
fortified hill, Plate VI, we find a large mound commanding the only
avenue leading to it, and so placed that no approach could be made
unobserved from its summit. Similar dependences, perhaps still more
marked, are perceived in other works, where mounds are placed on the
approaches, or at such points within or without the walls as are best
adapted for observation. (See Plate XI, Nos. 1 and 2.) [p184]


Rude heaps of stone, occasionally displaying some degree of
regularity, are not uncommon at the West, though by no means peculiar
to that section of country. It is exceedingly questionable whether
any of them belong to the same era with the other works here treated
of, although they are usually ascribed to the mound-builders. The
stone mounds, of which mention has already been made, are very
different structures, and should not be confounded with these rude

One of the most remarkable stone-heaps observed in the course of
these investigations, is situated upon the dividing ridge between
Indian and Crooked creeks, about ten miles south-west of Chillicothe,
Ohio. It is immediately by the side of the old Indian trail which
led from the Shawanoe towns, in the vicinity of Chillicothe, to the
mouth of the Scioto river; and consists of a simple heap of stones,
rectangular in form, and measuring one hundred and six feet in
length by sixty in width, and between three and four in height. The
stones are of all sizes, from those not larger than a man’s head,
to those which can hardly be lifted. They are such as are found in
great abundance on the hill slopes,—the fragments or «debris» of
the outcropping sandstone layers. Some are water-worn, showing that
they were brought up from the creek, nearly half a mile distant; and
although they were disposed with no regularity in respect to each
other, the heap was originally quite symmetrical in outline. The
stones have been thrown out from the centre, and an excavation of
considerable depth made in the earth beneath, but without results.
The heap is situated upon the highest point of land traversed by the
Indian trail; upon the water-shed, or dividing ridge, between the
streams which flow into Brush creek on the one side, and the Scioto
river on the other.

Another heap of stones of like character, but somewhat less in size,
is situated upon the top of a high, narrow hill, overlooking the
small valley of Salt creek, near Tarlton, Pickaway county, Ohio. It
is remarkable as having large numbers of crumbling human bones—to
say nothing of living black snakes—intermingled, apparently without
order, with the stones. A very extensive prospect is had from this
point. Upon the slope of a lower hill near by, appears to have been
formerly an Indian village. Many rude relics are uncovered on the
spot, by the plough.

Smaller and very irregular heaps are frequent amongst the hills. They
do not generally embrace more than a couple of cartloads of stone,
and almost invariably cover a skeleton. Occasionally the amount of
stones is much greater. Rude implements are sometimes found with the
skeletons. A number of such graves have been observed near Sinking
Springs, Highland county, Ohio; also in Adams county in the same
State, and in Greenup county, Kentucky, at a point nearly opposite
the town of Portsmouth on the Ohio.

Heaps of similar character are found in the Atlantic States, where
they were [p185] raised by the Indians over the bodies of those
who met their death by accident, or in the manner of whose death
there was something unusual. Dwight, in his Travels, mentions a
heap of stones of this description which was raised over the body
of a warrior killed by accident, on the old Indian trail between
Hartford and Farmington, the seat of the Tunxis Indians, in
Connecticut. Traces of a similar heap still exist on the old trail
between Schenectady and Cherry Valley in New York, with which a like
tradition is connected. They were not raised at once, but were the
accumulations of a long period, it being the custom for each warrior
as he passed the spot to add a stone to the pile. Hence the general
occurrence of these rude monuments near some frequented trail or path.

[Illustration: Fig. 70.—CONICAL MOUND.]


[121] The difficulty of carrying on investigations in the large
mounds cannot be readily appreciated. The earth is always so compact
as to require, literally, to be «cut out». It has then to be raised
to the surface,—a task of great labor, and only accomplished by
leaving stages in the descent and throwing the earth from one to the
other, and finally to the surface. Four industrious men were employed
not less than ten or twelve days in making the excavations in this
mound alone.

[122] Transactions of the American Ethnological Society, vol. i. p.

[123] When Lieut. Fremont penetrated into the fastnesses of
Upper California, where his appearance created great alarm among
the Indians, he observed this primitive telegraphic system in
operation. “Columns of smoke rose over the country at scattered
intervals,—signals by which the Indians, here as elsewhere,
communicate to each other that enemies are in the country. It
is a signal of ancient and very universal application among
barbarians.”—«Fremont’s Second Expedition», p. 220.



The condition of the ordinary arts of life amongst a people capable
of constructing the singular and imposing monuments which we have
been contemplating, furnishes a prominent and interesting subject
of inquiry. The vast amount of labor expended upon these works, and
the regularity and design which they exhibit, taken in connection
with the circumstances under which they are found, denote a people
advanced from the nomadic or radically savage state,—in short,
a numerous agricultural people, spread at one time, or slowly
migrating, over a vast extent of country, and having established
habits, customs, and modes of life. How far this conclusion, for the
present hypothetically advanced, is sustained by the character of the
minor vestiges of art, of which we shall now speak, remains to be

It has already been remarked, that the mounds are the principal
depositories of ancient art, and that in them we must seek for
the only authentic remains of the builders. In the observance of
a practice almost universal among barbarous or semi-civilized
nations, the mound-builders deposited various articles of use and
ornament with their dead. They also, under the prescriptions of their
religion, or in accordance with customs unknown to us, and to which
perhaps no direct analogy is afforded by those of any other people,
placed upon their altars numerous ornaments and implements,—probably
those most valued by their possessors,—which remain there to this
day, attesting at once the religious zeal of the depositors, and
their skill in the simpler arts. From these original sources, the
illustrations which follow have been chiefly derived.

The necessity of a careful discrimination between the various
remains found in the mounds, resulting from the fact that the races
succeeding the builders in the occupation of the country often buried
their dead in them, has probably been dwelt upon with sufficient
force, in another connection. Attention to the conditions under which
they are discovered, and to the simple rules which seem to have
governed the mound-builders in making their deposits, can hardly fail
to fix with great certainty their date and origin.

Thus in the case of the stratified mounds, we well know, if the
strata are entire, that whatever deposits are found beneath them
were placed there at the period of the construction of the mounds
themselves. On the other hand, if they are broken up, it follows with
equal certainty that the mound in which the disturbance is observed,
has been invaded since its erection.

It will therefore be seen that we have some certain means of
determining, aside from the distinctive features of the articles
themselves, which of the relics discovered [p187] in the mounds
pertain to their builders, and which are of a later date. Hence
results the importance of knowing the history of those relics
which may fall under notice, and the circumstances attending their
discovery, in order to feel authorized in drawing conclusions from
them. Their true position satisfactorily ascertained, we proceed with
confidence to comparisons and deductions, which otherwise, however
ingenious and accurate they might appear, would necessarily be
invested with painful uncertainty. From want of proper care in this
respect, there is no doubt that articles of European origin, which,
by a very natural train of events, found their way to the mounds,
have been made the basis of speculations concerning the arts of the
mound-builders. To this cause we may refer the existence of the
popular errors, that the ancient people were acquainted with the uses
of iron, and understood the arts of plating, gilding, etc.

Hence, too, the value of systematic investigations, conducted on the
spot, if we would aim to throw any certain light upon this branch of
inquiry, or do more than excite an ignorant wonder or gratify an idle

The general character of this class of remains has already been
indicated. They are such only as, from the nature of their material,
have been able to resist the general course of decay:—articles of
pottery, bone, ivory, shell, stone, and metal. We can, of course,
expect to find no traces of instruments or utensils of wood, and
but few and doubtful ones at best, of the materials which went to
compose articles of dress. Such remains as are found, so far as their
purposes are apparent, are classified; the remainder are so arranged
as best to facilitate description.


The art of the potter is hoary in its antiquity. It seems to have
been the first domestic art practised by man, and the worker in
clay may be esteemed the primitive artisan. Go where we will, from
the hut of the roving Indian to the palace of the civilized prince,
we everywhere find the products of his craft, rude and unpolished
from the hand of the savage, or rivalling the marble from the
manufactories of Wedgwood and Copeland.

The site of every Indian town throughout the West is marked by the
fragments of pottery scattered around it; and the cemeteries of the
various tribes abound with rude vessels of clay, piously deposited
with the dead. Previous to the advent of Europeans, the art of the
potter was much more important and its practice more general, than
it afterwards became upon the introduction of metallic vessels. The
mode of preparing and moulding the material is minutely described by
the early observers, and seems to have been common to all the tribes,
and not to have varied materially from that day to this. The work
devolved almost exclusively upon the women, who kneaded the clay
and formed the vessels. [p188] Experience seems to have suggested
the means of so tempering the material as to resist the action of
fire; accordingly we find pounded shells, quartz, and sometimes
simple coarse sand from the streams, mixed with the clay. None of the
pottery of the present races, found in the Ohio valley, is destitute
of this feature; and it is not uncommon, in certain localities, where
from the abundance of fragments, and from other circumstances, it is
supposed the manufacture was specially carried on, to find quantities
of the decayed shells of the fresh-water molluscs intermixed with
the earth, which were probably brought to the spot to be used in
the process. Among the Indians along the Gulf, a greater degree
of skill was displayed than with those on the upper waters of the
Mississippi and on the lakes. Their vessels were generally larger and
more symmetrical, and of a superior finish. They moulded them over
gourds and other models, and baked them in ovens. In the construction
of those of large size, it was customary to model them in baskets
of willow or splints, which, at the proper period, were burned off,
leaving the vessel perfect in form, and retaining the somewhat
ornamental markings of their moulds. Some of those found on the Ohio
seem to have been modelled in bags or nettings of coarse thread or
twisted bark. These practices are still retained by some of the
remote western tribes. Of this description of pottery many specimens
are found with the recent deposits in the mounds. They are identical
in every respect with those taken from the known burial-grounds of
the Indians; and though generally of rude workmanship, they are not
destitute of a certain symmetry of shape and proportion.

Among the mound-builders the art of pottery attained to a
considerable degree of perfection. Various though not abundant
specimens of their skill have been recovered, which, in elegance of
model, delicacy, and finish, as also in fineness of material, come
fully up to the best Peruvian specimens, to which they bear, in many
respects, a close resemblance. They far exceed anything of which the
existing tribes of Indians are known to have been capable. It is to
be regretted that none of these remains have been recovered entire in
the course of our investigations: they have been found only in the
altar or sacrificial mounds, and always in fragments. The largest
deposit was found in the long mound, No. 3, “Mound City,” (see page
149,) from which were taken fragments enough to have originally
composed a dozen vessels of medium size. By the exercise of great
care and patience in collecting and arranging the pieces, a few
vessels have been very nearly restored,—so nearly, as not only to
show with all desirable accuracy their shape, but also the character
of their ornaments. They exhibit a variety of graceful forms.

The material of which they are composed is a fine clay; which, in
the more delicate specimens, appears to have been worked nearly
pure, possessing a very slight silicious intermixture. Some of the
coarser specimens, though much superior in model, have something
of the character of the Indian ware already described, pulverized
quartz being intermixed with the clay. Others are tempered with a
salmon-colored mica in small flakes, which gives them a ruddy and
rather brilliant appearance, and was perhaps introduced with some
view to ornament as well as [p189] utility.[124] None appear
to have been glazed; although one or two, either from baking or
the subsequent great heat to which they were subjected, exhibit a
slightly vitrified surface. Their excellent finish seems to have been
the result of the same process with that adopted by the Peruvians in
their fictile manufactures.

[Illustration: XLVI.]


This Plate exhibits drawings of eight vessels of pottery; of which
Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, were taken from the mounds of Ohio, and Nos. 6, 7,
8, 9, from the mounds of South Carolina and Florida. Nos. 3 and 4,
although taken from the mounds, will readily be recognised as of
comparatively modern manufacture. They were found with the recent
deposits, and may be considered as fair specimens of Indian skill
in this department. Unlike the older vessels with which they are
placed in contrast, they are heavy and coarse, both in material and

NUMBER 1 is a beautiful vase, moulded from pure clay, with a slight
silicious intermixture. Its thickness is uniform throughout, not
exceeding one sixth of an inch. Its outer as well as interior surface
is smooth, except where it is dotted by way of ornament. Its finish
resembles in all respects that of the finer Peruvian pottery, and,
when held in certain positions towards the light, exhibits the
same peculiarities of surface, as if it had been carefully shaved
and smoothed with a sharp knife. It is highly polished, and has an
unctuous feel. The exterior is ornamented as represented in the
drawing. The lines are carved in, and appear to have been cut by some
sharp «gouge-shaped» instrument, which entirely removed the detached
material, leaving no ragged or raised edges. Nothing can exceed
the uniformity and precision with which they are executed; and it
seems almost impossible that the artist could have preserved so much
regularity, with no other guide than the eye. There are four groups
or festoons of lines, each of which occupies an equal division of the
surface. A line is carried around the top of the vase near the edge,
in which, at equal distances from each other, are pierced four small
holes, a fifth of an inch in diameter. Between this line and the edge
is a row of dots, formed with the same instrument used in carving
the lines, held in an oblique direction to the surface. The spaces
between some of the lines are [p190] roughened in a similar manner.
The color of this vase is a dark brown or umber. Its height is five
and a half, its diameter six and a half inches. The fragment, Fig. 5,
exhibits the thickness of the ware, the size of the engraved lines,

NUMBER 2 is a vase of coarser material but more elaborate outline
than the one just described. It is square, with slightly rounded
angles, and has a singular offset or shoulder at the top. Its
exterior is divided into four compartments, within each of which
is an ornamental figure, somewhat resembling a bird with extended
wings. This ornament is thrown in relief by the roughening of the
remaining portions of the surface. One or two other vases have been
found, possessing the same shape and having identical ornaments, but
lacking the offset or shoulder above mentioned. The ornamental work,
in all of these specimens, is executed in a free, bold style; and
the figures differ just enough to show that they were not cut after
a pattern. This vase is burned hard; its thickness is but one eighth
of an inch; its dimensions are, height five inches, greatest diameter
the same.

From the delicacy of these specimens, and the amount of labor
expended upon them, it is concluded that they were not used for
ordinary purposes. They were perhaps designed to contain articles
valued by the possessor, or to be used only on certain important
occasions. It has been suggested that they were possibly the
«censers» of the ancient priesthood, or, from the fact of their being
found only in the altar mounds, appropriated to sacred purposes. This
supposition might be made with equal propriety in respect to the
coarser varieties also found on the altars, and which, it is evident,
were designed to be used for purposes requiring strength and the
capability of withstanding fire.

NUMBERS 3 and 4 are drawn upon the same scale with the two above
described; they contain between one and two quarts. As before
remarked, they may be regarded as in all respects very good specimens
of the skill of the modern northern tribes in this description of

In the mounds of the South, pottery exists in great abundance; but it
differs very much in form and quality from the specimens found on the
Ohio. It is coarser in material, and seems to have been manufactured
with less care. The ornaments, although not without grace, are
roughly executed. Some of the vessels seem to have been burned to
considerable hardness, and exhibit the consequent redness of color;
but most are of a dark brown, and appear to have been hardened over
fires, rather than burned in kilns.

NUMBERS 6, 7, 8, and 9, as already observed, are examples of this
Southern ware. Number 6 is from South Carolina; Nos. 7, 8, and 9,
from Florida: they are all deposited in the cabinet of the Historical
Society of New York. No. 6 is about twelve inches in height, of
rather elegant model, and ornamented with scrolls. It contains
upwards of a gallon. Nos. 7 and 9 hold about a quart each; No. 8
perhaps three quarts.

Some of those found in the mounds of Carolina are of great size, and
capable [p191] of holding from three to thirty gallons. These are
seldom ornamented, but are extremely well formed. It may be remarked
that the handles of the Southern vases are often neatly moulded into
scrolls, or representations of the heads of animals and birds.

[Illustration: Fig. 71.]

Fig. 71, Number 1, is a very good specimen of an ancient Peruvian
vessel, now deposited in the museum of the Historical Society of
Connecticut, at Hartford. The peculiar spout, answering the double
purpose of use and ornament, has been observed in some of the vases
of the Southern United States. Number 2 illustrates one variety of
earthen ware, which is common from the mouth of the Ohio to the Gulf
of Mexico. This specimen was taken from a mound at Ellis’s Bluff,
near Natchez. It contained burnt remains, though we are uninformed of
what description. It is unbaked and composed of a singular kind of
clay, which exhibits the appearance and has the feel of the softer
varieties of “soap stone.” The material is accurately described
by Mr. Flint, in his account of certain articles of pottery found
in Missouri. “The composition when fractured shows many white
floccules in the clay, that resemble fine snow; and these I judge
to be pulverized shells. The basis of the composition seems to be
the alluvial clay, carried along in the waters of the Mississippi,
and called by the French ‘«terre grasse»,’ from its greasy feel.”
This specimen is seven inches high by eight inches in its greatest
diameter. The neck is two and a half inches long, and a cover
fits neatly over it, completely closing the vessel. It is very
symmetrical, exhibiting but slight irregularities. Its thickness
is not far from three eighths of an inch, but it is evidently not
uniform throughout. It has no markings, except some irregular notches
in the rim of the base.[125]

Many vessels of similar shape are found in Tennessee, Mississippi,
and Louisiana, of which number 3 of the cut furnishes a very good
example. They are of a great variety of sizes, and sometimes have the
form of the human head, or of [p192] animals. The celebrated “Triune
vessel,” which has been made the basis of so much unprofitable
speculation, was of the latter character, and represented three
human heads joined at the back. They are variously ornamented,
and sometimes painted with red and brown colors. Their form seems
generally to have been suggested by that of the gourd.

[Illustration: Fig. 72.]

Fig. 72, Number 1. This vessel, clearly of modern workmanship, was
found a few feet below the surface, near the town of Hamilton, Butler
county, Ohio. It was placed beside a human skeleton, and contained a
single muscle-shell. The material is a compound of clay and pounded
shells; its height is seven inches, diameter five and a half. Number
2 was found in the same vicinity, and under similar circumstances
with that last described. It is of like composition, thick, and of a
dark black color.

Number 3 was found in Perry county, Indiana, at a locality known as
the “Big Bone Bank.” It is composed of finer material than those
just described. The aperture at the mouth is two inches in diameter;
the vase itself is five inches in height, and measures thirteen in
circumference. The “Big Bone Bank,” to which we have alluded, occurs
on the Wabash river, ten miles above its mouth, and is supposed by
many to have been a cemetery of the mound-builders. Human remains are
very abundant here, and are said to occur as deep as ten feet below
the surface. With these are deposited various relics, consisting for
the most part of vessels of pottery, which are exposed from time
to time by the wasting away of the bank. The following specimens,
obtained from this locality, together with those just described, are
in the cabinet of JAMES MCBRIDE, Esq., Hamilton, Ohio.

[Illustration: Fig. 73.]

[Illustration: Fig. 74.]

Fig. 73 measures three inches in height by seventeen in
circumference. It is [p193] of fine clay, burned, and in model
somewhat resembles the ancient pipkin. Before it was fractured, it
probably terminated in a representation of the head of some animal.

Fig. 74 is of precisely the same material with that last described.
Besides the two handles, it has four strong knobs at right angles to
each other, by which it was probably designed the vessel might be

All the vessels from this locality are composed of clay, compounded
as already described, and baked; they are of small size, the largest
containing but little more than one quart. They fall far short of
those from the mounds in fineness and elegance of finish, though
superior to the general manufacture of the Indians. They resemble
more closely the coarse but very well moulded pottery of Florida and
the South-west.

A few «terra cottas» have been found in the mounds; they are said to
be abundant at the South, where they are represented to possess a
great variety of forms. In material they are identical with the finer
specimens of pottery already described, and like them seem generally
to have been baked.

[Illustration: Fig. 75 Half size.]

Fig. 75. This unique relic was ploughed up, on the banks of the Yazoo
river, in the State of Mississippi. It is composed of clay, smoothly
moulded and burned, and represents some animal, «couchant», lips
corrugated and exhibiting its teeth as if in anger or defiance. It
seems to have been used as a pipe. The attitude is alike natural and
spirited.[126] [p194]

[Illustration: Fig. 76 Half size.]

[Illustration: Fig. 77. Half size.]

[Illustration: Fig. 78. Half size.]

Figures 76 and 77 are both pipes of baked clay. They were ploughed
up in Virginia at a point nearly opposite the mouth of the Hocking
river, where there are abundant traces of an ancient people, in the
form of mounds, embankments, etc. One represents a human head, with
a singular head-dress, closely resembling some of those observed on
the idols and sculptures of Mexico. The other represents some animal
coiled together, and is executed with a good deal of spirit.

Fig. 78 is a reduced outline representation of an article of baked
clay, found a number of years ago, in a mound near Nashville,
Tennessee. It has the form of a human head, with a portentous nose
and unprecedented phrenological developments. It is smooth and well
polished, and contains six small balls of clay, which were discovered
upon perforating the neck. They must necessarily have been introduced
before the burning of the toy. Similar conceits were common in Mexico
and Peru, and were observed by Kotzebue upon the North-west Coast.
The Mexicans had also rude flutes of clay, upon which, with a little
practice, not unmusical sounds may be produced.

[Illustration: Fig. 79.]

[Illustration: Fig. 80.]

Fig. 79 was taken from a mound in Butler county, Ohio. It represents
the head of a bird, somewhat resembling the toucan, and is executed
with much spirit. It seems originally to have been attached to some
vessel, from which it was broken before being deposited in the
mound.[127] [p195]

Fig. 80 presents greatly reduced sketches of a couple of clay pipes.
The one indicated by the figure 1 was found in a mound in Florida,
and is now in the museum of the Historical Society of New York; the
other is from a mound in South Carolina, and is in the cabinet of Dr.
S. G. Morton, of Philadelphia. Most of the ancient clay pipes that
have been discovered have this form, which is not widely different
from that adopted by the later Indians.

Notwithstanding the regularity of figure and uniformity of thickness
which many of the specimens of aboriginal pottery exhibit, it is
clear that they were all moulded by hand. There is no evidence that
the potter’s wheel was known, nor that the art of glazing, as now
practised, was understood. It is not impossible, but on the contrary
appears extremely probable, from a close inspection of the mound
pottery, that the ancient people possessed the simple approximation
towards the potter’s wheel, consisting of a stick of wood grasped in
the hand by the middle and turned round inside a wall of clay, formed
by the other hand or by another workman. The polish, which some of
the finer vessels possess, is due to other causes, and is not the
result of vitrification. That a portion of the ancient pottery was
not baked is very certain; but that another portion, including all
vessels which were designed for common use, for cooking and similar
purposes, was burned, is equally certain. In some of the Southern
States, it is said, the kilns, in which the ancient pottery was
baked, are now occasionally to be met with. Some are represented
still to contain the ware, partially burned, and retaining the rinds
of the gourds, etc., over which they were modelled, and which had
not been entirely removed by the fire. “In Panola county,” says Mr.
R. Morris, in a private letter, “are found great numbers of what are
termed ‘«pottery kilns»;’ in which are masses of vitrified matter,
frequently in the form of rude bricks, measuring twelve inches in
length by ten in breadth.” It seems most likely that these “kilns”
are the remains of the manufactories of the later tribes, the
Choctaws and Natchez, who, says Adair, “made a prodigious number of
vessels of pottery, of such variety of forms as would be tedious to
describe, and impossible to name.”


[124] “The present Chilenoes are good potters for common ware; they
introduce a considerable quantity of earth and sand, containing
abundance of yellow mica, and their vessels sometimes contain as much
as seventy gallons or more. They are of great thinness, lightness,
and strength.”—«Schmidtmeyer’s Chile», p. 117.

[125] In the cabinet of Dr. S. P. HILDRETH, Marietta, Ohio.

[126] In the cabinet of JAMES MCBRIDE, Esq.

[127] In the cabinet of JAMES MCBRIDE, Esq.



The first inquiry suggested by an inspection of the mounds and other
earthworks of the West, relates to the means at the command of the
builders in constructing them. However numerous we may suppose the
ancient people to have been, we must regard these works as entirely
beyond their capabilities, unless they had some artificial aids.
As an agricultural people, they must have possessed some means of
clearing the land of forests and of tilling the soil. We can hardly
conceive, at this day, how these operations could be performed
without the aid of iron; yet we know that the Peruvians and Mexicans,
whose monuments emulate the proudest of the old world, were wholly
unacquainted with the uses of that metal, and constructed their
edifices and carried on their agricultural operations with implements
of wood, stone, and copper. They possessed the secret of hardening
the metal last named, so as to make it subserve most of the uses to
which iron is applied. Of it they made axes, chisels, and knives.

The mound-builders were acquainted with several of the metals,
although they do not seem to have possessed the art of reducing
them from the ores. Implements and ornaments of copper are found in
considerable abundance among their remains; silver is occasionally
found in the form of ornaments, but only to a trifling amount; the
ore of lead, galena, has been discovered in considerable quantities,
but none of the metal has been found under such circumstances as
to establish conclusively that they were acquainted with the art
of smelting it. No iron or traces of iron, except with the recent
deposits, have been discovered; nor is it believed that the race of
the mounds had any knowledge of that metal. The copper and silver
found in the mounds were doubtless obtained in their native state,
and afterwards worked without the intervention of fire. The locality
from which they were derived seems pretty clearly indicated by the
peculiar mechanico-chemical combination existing, in some specimens,
between the silver and copper, which combination characterizes only
the native masses of Lake Superior. In none of the articles found is
there evidence of welding, nor do any of them appear to have been
cast in moulds. On the contrary, they seem to have been hammered out
of rude masses, and gradually and with great labor brought into the
required shape. The lamination, resulting from hammering the baser
metals while cold, is to be observed in nearly all the articles.
But, notwithstanding the disadvantages which they labored under, the
mound-builders contrived to produce some very creditable specimens of
workmanship, displaying both taste and skill.

No articles composed entirely of silver have been discovered: the
extreme scarcity of that metal seems to have led to the utmost
economy in its use. It is [p197] only found reduced to great
thinness, and plated upon copper. By «plated», it should not be
understood that any chemical combination, or a union produced by
heat, exists between the two metals, but simply that thin slips
of silver were «wrapped» closely around the copper, their edges
overlapping, so as to leave no portion exposed. This was done so
neatly as, in many cases, almost to escape detection.

AXES.—Among the implements recovered from the mounds, are several
copper axes, the general form of which is well exhibited in the
engravings herewith presented. They are well wrought, and each
appears to have been made from a single piece,—showing that the metal
was obtained in considerable masses. The largest of these, Fig. 81,
weighs two pounds five ounces. It measures seven inches in length, by
four in breadth at the cutting edge, and has an average thickness of
about four tenths of an inch. Its edge is slightly curved, somewhat
after the manner of the axes of the present day, and is «bevelled»
from both surfaces.

[Illustration: Fig. 81.]

[Illustration: Fig. 82.]

Fig. 82 is less in size, but of heavier proportions. It weighs two
pounds, and [p198] measures six and one third inches in length, by
three and one third in width on the edge. Unlike the other, it has
a nearly straight cutting surface; the blade, however, is curved
or «gouge-shaped», closely resembling the adze at present used in
hollowing timbers, and it was probably applied to a similar purpose
with that instrument. Its head is slightly battered, as if it had
sustained blows from a hammer, or had itself been used in pounding.

It may seem incomprehensible to many persons, how these axes, being
destitute of an eye for the insertion of a handle, and not even
possessing the groove of the Indian stone axe, for the reception of
a withe, could have been used with any effect. They were doubtless
fitted in the same manner with those of the ancient Mexicans and
Peruvians, with which, from all accounts, they seem to be identical
in form.

“The Mexicans,” observes Clavigero, “made use of an axe to cut trees,
which was also made of copper, and was of the same form with those
of modern times, except that we put the handle in an eye of the axe,
while they put the axe in an eye of the handle.”[128]

The Pacific Islanders have a sort of adze, which is formed by firmly
lashing a blade of stone, with its cutting edge at right angles, to a
handle, having a sharp crook at its extremity. This mode of fastening
would enable the axe with the curved blade to be used with the
greatest efficiency as an adze. That it was designed to be so used,
seems apparent from the fact that the edge is not formed by bevelling
from both sides, but from the inner surface only, precisely in the
manner that the adze of the present day is ground. Fig. 83 exhibits
the probable manner in which these instruments were fitted for use.

[Illustration: Fig. 83.]

The circumstances under which these interesting relics were
discovered, are detailed in the chapter on the Mounds. (See page
154.) It will be seen they were not found where, as a general and
almost invariable rule, we must look for the only authentic remains
of the mound-builders, viz. at the bottom of the mound. They are
nevertheless classed as undoubted relics of the ancient race. The
implements of the modern Indians are found, whenever they occur in
the mounds, in [p199] connection with human remains, in the position
in which they were deposited with the dead. We have no evidence that
the northern tribes of Indians possessed copper articles of this
description, and but slender evidence at best that they were in
use among the Indians along the Gulf.[129] A positive argument in
favor of the origin imputed to them, is presented in the fact that
many of the articles found both in the sepulchral and sacrificial
mounds are of copper, and of similar workmanship, denoting that the
mound-builders possessed the metal in considerable abundance, and
were very well acquainted with its capabilities. That they have an
antiquity higher than the date of the first European intercourse,
is established by their form; but if this were insufficient, the
evidence may be found in the fact that from immediately over them was
removed the stump of a tree, originally of the largest size, which
had long since fallen and decayed.

[Illustration: Fig. 84.]

This implement (Fig. 84) was found in a mound near one of the great
works on Paint creek. It resembles a double-bladed hatchet, and was
perhaps used as such. It measures six inches in length, and is three
inches broad at each end; across the middle it measures but two and a
half inches. It weighs about one pound and a half. The hole through
the centre may have been designed for the insertion of a rivet, so
as to fasten it firmly in a handle, as represented in the reduced
sketch, number 2. [p200]

[Illustration: Fig. 85.]

Copper axes similar in all respects to those here described have been
found at various places in Ohio. One of them, now in the possession
of a gentleman of Hillsboro’, is of the same shape with Fig. 82; it
weighs two pounds. It was found near the great hill-work in Highland
county (Plate V). Another, corresponding with the above, is in the
possession of R. Buchanan, Esq., of Cincinnati. It was found, in
connection with six others, a few miles north of Yellow Springs,
in the valley of the Little Miami river. They were discovered in
excavating a cellar, three or four feet beneath the surface. Large
trees had been growing on the spot. Another axe, of different shape,
was found not many years since, in a mound near Deerfield, on the
Little Miami. It was worked up by the village blacksmith. Still
another, of comparatively rude workmanship, is deposited in the
Cincinnati Museum. The circumstances under which it was discovered
are unknown.

DRILLS OR GRAVERS.—Among the remains on the sacrificial altars, have
been found graving tools or rude chisels of copper. These were formed
by hammering the copper into rods, with sharp tapering points or
with chisel-shaped edges. Full size sketches of several of these are
presented, Fig. 85. Nos. 1 and 2 were found in the long mound, No. 3
“Mound City,” in connection with numerous other remains.

An implement of copper, identical in shape with No. 1, although
somewhat larger in size, is deposited in the Philadelphia Museum. It
was taken from a mound in Alabama.

Nos. 3, 4, and 5, were discovered in making excavations in the works
at Marietta. The character of each of these is sufficiently well
explained by the engravings. No. 1 measures eight inches in length,
and weighs about two ounces. No. 2 is less in size, and seems to have
been used as a graver. It cuts the softer varieties of stone with
facility. Whether those found at Marietta were designed for similar
purposes, or were intended to be bent together for ornaments, it is
not undertaken to say. That some instruments, of similar character
with these, were used by the mound-builders, in their carvings in
stone, will be apparent when we come to speak of their sculptures.

[Illustration: Fig. 86.]

Fig. 86. No. 1 is a greatly reduced sketch of a copper spear or
lance-head, found three miles north-west of Cincinnati, Ohio. It was
discovered about two feet below the surface, at the base of a small
hill, which was crowned by an Indian grave. The original is eight
inches in length.[130]

No. 2 is a reduced sketch of a rude copper knife found in the summer
of 1847, on Isle Royal, Lake Superior. It was discovered three feet
below the surface, by the uprooting of a tree, which had grown above
it. It has the lamination of surface already referred to, in a marked
degree, and was evidently hammered from a single piece of native

[Illustration: Fig. 87.]

The copper articles above represented (Fig. 87) were all found, in
connection with other relics and some human skeletons, in excavating
the St. Lawrence canal, Canada West. The drawings, from which the
engravings are reduced, were kindly furnished, together with a full
description, by T. REYNOLDS, M.D., of Brockville, in whose possession
the originals now are. “The spot where they were discovered, is a
picturesque point on the banks of the river St. Lawrence, near the
head of the first rapid or cascade met with in descending the river.
They were found deposited fourteen feet below the surface, in a soil
composed of blue clay and sand. A score of skeletons were found
[p202] arranged around them, their feet pointing to the spot where
they were placed. The bones crumbled upon exposure to the air. A few
yards from this place, and at about the same depth from the surface,
another circular space was exposed to view; but strange to say, here
the organic remains had been subjected to the action of fire, and the
half-burned bones with the charcoal and ashes, evinced the fact that
natural decomposition had been anticipated by the hand of man.

“Numbers 1 and 2 were evidently designed for spears, and intended
to fit into handles. The blades are of considerable thickness, not
much corroded, but of rude proportions. They are pointed, and have a
double cutting edge, and were undoubtedly weapons of some service.
No. 1 is a foot in length. No. 3 is a copper knife, engraved of half
size. One edge is sharp, and has marks of considerable use. The point
is broken off. No. 5 is also a knife, less in size, and has a hooked
extremity, as shown in the engraving. It was probably designed to be
used without a handle. No. 4 is an implement ten inches in length.
It has a hollow or socket for the reception of a handle, with a
corresponding convexity on the back. The chisel-shaped extremity is
blunt, but capable of receiving a sharp edge. It may have been used
as a chisel, or gouge,—perhaps as a sort of spade.

“With respect to the question whether these remains are of European
origin or manufacture, I have merely to remark that their workmanship
is very rude; that no traces of iron or of European implements were
found with them, and that the copper corresponds exactly with the
specimens of native metal obtained from Lake Superior. The nature of
the soil at this spot is favorable for the preservation of organic
remains; the fact, therefore, that the bones found with these relics
were in so advanced a stage of decomposition, induces me to believe
that they were deposited long before the discovery and occupation
of Canada by Europeans. We might expect here to find relics bearing
the stamp of French manufacture; but there is nothing in the form
or composition of these which would lead one to suppose them to be
of French origin. This spot was not the usual burying-place of the
Indians. Their cemetery seems to have been some distance back from
the river, upon a high sandy ridge, where their remains, apparently
of very ancient deposit, are now found in abundance.”

From what has been presented, it appears that the mound-builders were
very well acquainted with the use of copper. They do not, however,
seem to have possessed the secret of giving it any extraordinary
degree of hardness. The axes above described were found, upon
analysis, to be «pure copper», unalloyed, to any perceptible extent,
by other metals. The hardness which they seem to possess, beyond the
copper of commerce, is no doubt due to the hammering to which they
were subjected in their manufacture. As already observed, the metal
appears to have been worked, in all cases, in a cold state. This is
somewhat remarkable, as the fires upon the altars were sufficiently
strong, in some instances, to melt down the copper implements and
ornaments deposited upon them, and the fact that the metal is fusible
could hardly have escaped notice.

It has already been suggested, upon the strength of the fact that
some of the specimens of copper obtained from the mounds have
crystals of silver attached to them, that a part of the supply of
the ancient people was obtained from the [p203] shores of Lake
Superior, where alone this peculiar combination is known to exist.
The circumstance that the mound axes are made of unalloyed copper,
does not affect this conclusion; for a large proportion of the native
metal found at this locality is pure. The conclusion is further
sustained by the amount of the metal extracted from the mounds,
implying a large original supply. Besides numerous small pieces, some
large fragments are occasionally discovered. One of these, weighing
twenty-three pounds, and from which portions had evidently been cut,
was found a few years since near Chillicothe. Still, it does not
appear that copper was sufficiently abundant to entirely supersede
the use of bone and stone implements.


[128] “The copper axes of the Peruvians differ very little in shape
from ours, and it appears that these were the implements with which
they performed most of their works. They are of various shapes and
sizes, the edge of some is more circular than others, and some have a
concave edge.”—«Ulloa», vol. i. p. 483.

[129] It is asserted by the Portuguese chronicler of De Soto’s
ill-fated expedition, that copper hatchets were found in possession
of some of the Indian tribes along the Gulf, “which were said to have
a mixture of gold.” These, the Spaniards were told, were obtained
in a province towards the north, called «Chisca», “where there was
a melting of copper, and of another metal of the same color, save
that it was finer and far better to the sight, which they used not
so much, because it was softer.” The Spaniards did not visit the
province of Chisca; as they were informed high mountains intervened,
which could not be passed with horses. This, it is believed, is the
only account of anything of the kind occurring north of Mexico.

[130] In the cabinet of R. BUCHANAN, Esq., Cincinnati.



Notwithstanding that it was often used for implements, copper seems
to have been most highly valued by the mound-builders for purposes
of ornament. The supposition is based upon the fact that ornaments
of this metal are comparatively abundant. They are found of many
varieties, comprising bracelets, pendants, beads, gorgets, etc., some
of which display no inconsiderable degree of skill.

[Illustration: Fig. 88.]

The «bracelets» are usually found encircling the arms of the
skeletons, in the sepulchral mounds, but are not infrequent upon
the altars. They consist of a simple rod of copper, hammered out
with more or less skill, and so bent that the ends approach, or lap
over, each other. Those which have been deposited under unfavorable
circumstances are generally much corroded and appear ragged and rude.
But some are found which are extremely well wrought. Such was the
case with those obtained from a mound, within an enclosure, three
miles above Chillicothe, (see page 156,) three of which of full
size are shown in the engraving. These are smoothly and uniformly
hammered, and seem to have been originally highly polished. They
are bent with perfect regularity; and, it is a singular fact, are
of uniform size and weight. They measure, between [p205] the outer
surfaces, two inches and nine tenths,—between the inner surfaces,
two and a half inches in diameter; and weigh four ounces each. They
correspond exactly with some of the ruder ones, of the same metal,
found in the tombs of the ancient Egyptians. They were but partially
bent together before being placed upon the arm, after which they were
closed as nearly as practicable.

[Illustration: Fig. 89.]

The ornaments denominated, for want of a better name, «gorgets», are
frequently found, but only, so far as observed, with skeletons, in
the sepulchral mounds. An engraving of one of these is presented,
(Fig. 89,) which exhibits their general form. The original, in this
instance, measures eight and a half inches at the lower, and seven
and a half at the upper edge, and is four and a quarter inches
broad. It weighs five ounces. This is considerably above the average
dimensions. They are usually about the thickness of ordinary sheet
copper; and are always perforated with two holes, placed at equal
distances from the ends and somewhat above the longitudinal centre,
as shown in the engraving. This feature, and the fact that they are
uniformly found with skeletons, suggest that they were suspended
around the neck, resting upon the breast. There is one circumstance,
however, that seems inconsistent with this conclusion, namely, that
none of the holes exhibit the slightest elongation from wear. On the
contrary, their edges are sharp as if newly cut. Such could not have
been the case with articles of this soft material and extraordinary
thinness, had they been suspended in the manner suggested. The holes
in the little silver crosses, found in the graves of the modern
Indians, are frequently worn so as to be nearly a fourth of an inch
in length; and yet they weigh less than half an ounce, and are cut
out of thicker plates of metal than the broad copper ornaments here
mentioned. Either these plates were worn only on extraordinary
occasions, or in such a manner that little or no friction was
produced by the cords by which they were sustained or fastened.[131]

[Illustration: Fig. 90.]

Fig. 90 represents an ornament, of something the same character with
the above. It is formed of a copper plate of considerable thickness,
which has been fashioned so as to present a convex surface. It is
also perforated with two holes, and is identical in this respect, as
well as in shape, with a large class of stone ornaments or implements
found in the mounds, and of which notice will be taken in another

[Illustration: Fig. 91.]

A large number of «discs» or medals of copper have been obtained
from the mounds. They resemble, to use a familiar illustration, the
«bosses» observed on harnesses. Some of these are not less than
two inches, but most are about one inch and a half in diameter.
They are formed of thin plates of copper, are perfectly round, and
concavo-convex in shape. They are found only on the altar-mounds,
where they seem to have been placed with their edges together, in
pairs. Owing to the great heat to which they have been subjected,
and subsequent oxydation, nearly all of them are so cemented
together that they cannot be separated without breaking them into
fragments. Their present appearance is very well exhibited by Fig.
91. Some of them, of more elaborate workmanship than the rest, and
which have been more favorably situated for preservation, have been

[Illustration: Fig. 92.]

These articles, it will be observed, display more skill in working
the metal, than any of those previously noticed. They present every
appearance of having been «pressed» into shape, in the way in which
similar articles are formed at this day. In opening one of the
mounds, a block of compact sandstone was discovered, [p207] Fig.
92, in which were several circular depressions, in all respects
resembling those in the work-blocks of copper-smiths, in which plates
of metal are hammered to give them convexity. These depressions are
of various dimensions, and are evidently artificial. It seems more
than probable it was in such moulds that these articles were formed.
This block weighs between thirty and forty pounds.

[Illustration: Fig. 93.]

Small tubes of copper, formed by wrapping together thin slips of that
metal, are often found. They are not soldered, and though the edges
overlap each other very closely, they can easily be separated with
the blade of a knife. They were doubtless strung as beads. Another
variety of beads, made of coarse copper wire, closely wound and
hammered together, are occasionally found.

[Illustration: Fig. 94.]

Among the articles that exhibit the greatest degree of skill in
their manufacture, may be mentioned a sort of «boss» or «button»,
several of which are shown in the engraving. These present a convex
and a plane surface, and are identical in form with some of the
old-fashioned buttons which still linger on the small clothes of our
grandfathers. They are hollow; a portion of them are perforated from
the sides, but most have the holes through which passed the thread,
by which they were strung or attached, in the base. They bear a
resemblance to some forms of the ancient «fibulæ».

In addition to these, many small tubes, bands, and articles of
wrought copper of various kinds have been found, the purposes of
which are not apparent, and which it would be tedious to describe.
Greatly reduced sketches of several of these are herewith presented.

[Illustration: Fig. 95.]

The metal was sometimes very ingeniously used in repairing broken
articles of stone, etc., as will shortly be seen. One or two stone
pipes have been discovered which seem to have been completely
encased, so as to present an unbroken metallic surface. The
overlapping edges, in these cases, were so polished down as scarcely
to be discoverable.

Silver, as has already been remarked, seems to have been possessed
in very small quantities by the mound-builders. Indeed, within the
entire range of these investigations, it has been discovered in but
a single instance,—namely, in the remarkable “pipe mound,” numbered
8 in the plan of “Mound City.” It was here found, reduced to extreme
thinness, (not exceeding in thickness ordinary foolscap paper,) and
plated, or rather wrapped, over sundry copper beads and a few other
ornaments of the same material. The whole amount discovered would
probably not exceed an ounce in weight.

[Illustration: Fig. 96.]

From the mound above mentioned were taken a number of large beads,
the size and shape of which are accurately shown in the accompanying
engraving. They are composed of shell, now completely calcined,
and seem to have been carefully enveloped with sheet copper and
afterwards with thin slips of [p208] silver, so as to completely
cover the surface. Some of the beads exhibit both the copper and
silver partially melted off. The heat of the fire, upon the altar
where they were found, had been sufficiently intense, towards the
centre, to melt considerable masses of copper.

Besides these beads, several star-shaped ornaments were found.
They are also composed of shell, bound together by an envelope of
sheet copper, over which the silver slips are carefully folded, so
as to leave their overlapping edges scarcely perceptible. A small
hole passed through the centre of these unique ornaments, by which
they were fastened in such positions as the taste of the possessor

[Illustration: Fig. 97.]

Silver crosses, it has several times been observed, have been
discovered with the recent deposits in the mounds. The accompanying
engraving illustrates their general form. Some are considerably
larger and heavier than that here represented; one found near
Chillicothe weighed not less than one and a half ounces. They will
readily be recognised as of European origin. The enterprising
French passed frequently through the Mississippi valley, from a
very early day, and maintained a constant intercourse with the
natives, distributing amongst them vast numbers of these crosses,
brooches, and other ornaments of silver; which, in accordance with
the aboriginal custom, were buried with the possessor at his death.
Numbers of these relics have been found in the mounds and Indian
graves of the South. They are perhaps oftener composed of brass than
of silver.

The instance first mentioned, it is believed, is the only one in
which silver has been found in the mounds under such circumstances
as to establish conclusively that it pertained to the builders. It
is clear that, so far as the specimens here obtained are concerned,
they did not understand the art of «plating», in the proper meaning
of the term. They had taken but the first step towards it. That art
is certainly one which follows, instead of preceding, the knowledge
of welding and of working metals through the assistance of fire,
which knowledge does not seem to have been possessed by them. Their
acquaintance with metallurgy appears to have been confined to working
the native metals in a cold state; in which, it must be admitted,
they evinced considerable skill. Further than this, little can be
claimed for them.

[Illustration: Fig. 98.]

From the presence of «galena» in the mounds, it seems almost
impossible that the builders could have been ignorant of the
manufacture of lead. None of that metal has, however, been discovered
under such circumstances as to place it beyond doubt that they were
acquainted with it. A rude article, of pure lead, of the following
form, and weighing about half a pound, was discovered, not long
since, in sinking a well within the trench of the ancient works at
Circleville. It was found about two feet [p209] below the surface,
and was thickly encrusted with a carbonate. We shall not undertake
to ascribe a date to it. Upon one of the altars within a mound in
“Mound City,” (see page 149,) a quantity of galena was found. It had
been exposed, in common with all articles found on the altars, to
the action of fire, which had not, however, been sufficiently strong
to reduce it, though some pieces seem to have been partially fused.
Perhaps it may have been prized only for its brilliancy, and finally
deposited, with other articles of use or ornament, as an offering.


[131] RIBAULDE, who visited the shores of Florida in 1562, speaks of
a chief who “had hanging about his neck a round plate of red copper
well polished, with one other lesser one of silver, in the midst of
it, and at his ear a little plate of copper wherewith they use to
stripe the swete from theyer bodyes.” Sir WALTER RALEIGH mentions,
that the tribes, with which he held communication on the shores
of North Carolina, wore copper plates on their heads, which were
badges of authority and indicated the chiefs. These plates were so
highly polished that they were, at first, mistaken for gold. It is
not impossible that those found in the mounds were worn in a like
manner by the ancient people. The one described in the text was found
beneath the head of the skeleton with which it was buried.

[132] Dr. DRAKE, in his “«View of Cincinnati»,” describes several
ornaments or instruments found in a mound at Cincinnati, which are
somewhat analogous to those described in the text, if not identical
with them. “Several copper articles were discovered, each consisting
of two sets of circular, concavo-convex plates; the interior one of
each set connected with the other by a hollow axis, around which had
been wound some lint.” Articles, answering to this description, were
found, a few years since, in removing a mound on Paint creek, ten
miles distant from Chillicothe. In this case, we are assured by the
individual who discovered them, that the axis was wound round with a
well-twisted and compact thread, resembling fine linen pack-thread,
which was stained green by the salts of the copper, to which its
preservation is entirely attributable. It is possible that some of
the larger discs, above described, were originally thus connected.



In the absence of a knowledge of the metals, the ingenuity of man
contrives to fashion from the different varieties of stone, from
the tusks and bones of animals, and the harder kinds of wood, such
rude implements as his necessities demand, and such ornaments as his
fancy suggests. And even among nations who have a limited knowledge
of the metals, we find these characteristic implements of a ruder
state still adhered to. In Mexico and Peru, where the use of most
of the metals, except iron, was well understood, the stone axe and
flint-tipped arrow and lance were in common use, at the period of
the discovery. The early explorers found all the American nations,
from the squalid Esquimaux, who struck the morse with a lance pointed
with its own tusks, to the haughty Aztec, rivalling in his barbaric
splendor the magnificence of the East, in possession of them. We
are not surprised, therefore, at their occurrence in the mounds. We
find them with the original and with the recent deposits, and the
plough turns them up to light on every hand. And so striking is the
resemblance between them all, that we are almost ready to conclude
they were the productions of the same people. This conclusion would
be irresistible, did we not know that the wants of man have ever been
the same, and have always suggested like forms to his implements,
and similar modes of using them. The polished instrument with which
the pioneer of civilization prostrates the forest, has its type in
the stone axe of the Indian which his plough the next day exposes
to his curious gaze. In the barrows of Denmark and Siberia, in the
tumuli on the plains of Marathon, and even under the shadow of the
pyramids themselves, the explorer finds relics, almost identical with
those disclosed from the mounds, and closely resembling each other in
material, form, and workmanship. We have consequently little whereby
to distinguish the remains of the mound-builders, so far as their
mere implements of stone are concerned, except the position in which
they are found, and the not entirely imaginary superiority of their
workmanship, from those of the succeeding races. We have, however,
in the different varieties of stone of which they are composed, the
evidences of a more extended intercourse than we are justified in
ascribing to the more recent tribes.

The articles composed of stone and bone have a great variety of
forms, which were probably suggested by the purposes for which they
were designed. They will be classified, so far as their purposes seem
apparent. [p211]

SPEAR OR LANCE HEADS.—Great numbers of flint points are found which,
it is clear from their size and form, could not have been used for
tipping arrows.

[Illustration: Fig. 99 Half size.]

[Illustration: Fig. 100.]

Fig. 99 presents several of these, greatly reduced from the original
size. Nos. 1 and 2 were designed to be lashed to shafts, previously
drilled or split to receive them. There are others, however, the
manner of using which is not so obvious. No. 3 is an example. It
measures eleven inches in length by two and a half in its greatest
breadth. It has been suggested that it was fastened at right angles
to a handle and used as a sort of battle-axe. In one of the mounds
already several times referred to (page 149) were found, amongst
large quantities of fragments, several perfect specimens of rather
remarkable character; one of which, beautifully worked from milky
quartz, is herewith presented of half size (Fig. 100). The difficulty
of accounting for the manner in which they were used is scarcely less
than in the instance last mentioned. It has been suggested that they
were perhaps designed to be used in the construction of swords, or
offensive weapons, on the plan of those made by the ancient Mexicans.
These were formed by slitting a cane or other slender piece of tough
wood, and inserting blades of stone, usually slips of obsidian, upon
either side. These were retained in their place by firmly lashing
the separated wood together, and filling the cavities with some hard
variety of gum.[133] The implement was wielded with both hands, and,
with its sharp serrated edges, constituted a very formidable [p212]
weapon. This notion is favored by the order in which some of the
specimens, near the edges and least disturbed portions of the altar,
were found.

Some spear-points of «obsidian» have been found, which, judging from
the fragments, must have been of large dimensions. The ready fracture
of this mineral, upon exposure to strong heat, has been exceedingly
unfavorable to the recovery entire of any articles composed of it.
This is the more to be regretted, from the fact that it is believed
to be found «in place» only in Mexico and the volcanic regions of the
South-west, and a comparison of the articles found here with those of
the same material obtained from that direction, might serve to throw
some degree of light upon the origin and connections of the race of
the mounds. A further notice will be taken of the mineral when we
come to speak of the minerals and fossils found in the mounds.

[Illustration: Fig. 103.]

ARROW-POINTS.—Arrow-points are abundant throughout the West,
especially in the valleys where the mounds occur; but although
frequently found, they are not plentiful in the mounds themselves.
They are much less numerous than the lance-heads just noticed.
Sketches of a number, exhibiting their predominant forms, are given
in the engraving. It will be noticed that they possess a great
diversity of form. Some are barbed and have a serrated edge quite
as sharp and ragged as the edge of a saw; some are so chipped that
the line of their edges forms a large angle to their planes, as
if to give them a revolving or «tearing» motion; and others are
narrow and pointed, as if particularly designed for penetrating
deeply. If anything were to be gained by it, a classification of
these relics might be attempted. We might designate those having
serrated edges and barbs, as the «war-arrow», intended not only to
penetrate the flesh, but retain their hold and rankle and fester in
the wound; those destitute of this feature, as the «peace-arrow», or

Many, as has already been remarked, and as will be perceived from
the [p213] engravings, are delicately wrought, and from the richest
materials within the reach of their makers. From one of the mounds in
that, by this time, familiar locality, Mound City, (see page 149,)
were taken a number of beautiful ones of transparent or hyaline
quartz, which, from the brilliant play of colors upon their fractured
surfaces, are real gems. It is not likely that these, and some others
of like delicate material, were used for ordinary purposes, but
rather for display and ornament.[134] From the same mound were also
taken one or two arrow-points of «obsidian».

Arrow-points, differing from each other only in the variety of stone
of which they are composed, are discovered in all quarters of the
globe. They have been found in the Scythian tumuli of Siberia, in the
tombs of Egypt,[135] upon the plains of Greece;[136] and in the rude
monuments of ancient Scandinavia. But whether obtained from Asia,
from Europe, Africa, or America, they are almost identical in form
and workmanship, and might readily be mistaken for the productions
of the same people. Their prevalence seems to mark that stage of
man’s progress which the antiquaries of the north of Europe have
denominated the “stone age,” and which was followed by the “age of
bronze,” and the “age of iron.” The manufacture of these arrow-points
involves no inconsiderable degree of skill, as will be very apparent
to any one who has the curiosity to attempt an imitation from the raw
material. It has hence been inferred that it was anciently an art,
like that of the potter, assigned to a class of armorers or makers
of arrow-heads, whose skill was the result of long experience in the

[Illustration: Fig. 104.]

Arrow and lance heads, and cutting implements of the numerous
varieties of quartz, embracing every shade of color and degree of
transparency, from the dull blue of the ordinary hornstone to the
brilliant opalescence of the chalcedonic varieties, are frequent
in the mounds. Some are worked with great skill from pure, limpid
crystals of quartz, others from crystals of manganesan garnet, and
others still from «obsidian» (the «itzli» of the Mexicans, and
«gallinazo stone» of the Peruvians). It is a singular fact, however,
that few weapons of stone or other materials are discovered in the
sepulchral mounds; most of the remains found with the skeletons are
such evidently as were deemed ornamental, or recognised as badges
of distinction. Some of the altar or sacrificial mounds, on the
other hand, have the deposits within them almost entirely made up
of finished arrow and spear points, intermixed with masses of the
unmanufactured material. From one altar were taken several bushels
of finely worked lance-heads of milky quartz, nearly all of which
had been broken up by the action of fire. (See page 149.) In another
mound, an excavation six feet long and four broad disclosed upwards
of six hundred spear-heads or discs of hornstone, rudely [p214]
blocked out, and the deposit extended indefinitely on every side.
(See page 158.) Some of these are represented in the accompanying
engraving. They are necessarily much reduced. The originals are
about six inches long and four broad, and weigh not far from two
pounds each. Some specimens from this deposit are nearly round,
but most are of the shape of those here figured. We are wholly at
a loss respecting their purposes, unless they were designed to be
worked into the more elaborate implements to which allusion has
been made, and were thus roughly «blocked out» for greater ease of
transportation from the quarries. With these relics, were found
several large nodules of similar material, from which portions had
been chipped off, exposing a nucleus, around which the accretion
seems to have taken place. These nodules are covered to the depth
of half an inch, with a calcario-silicious deposit, white, and of
great hardness. Such nodules are found in the secondary limestone

Several localities are known from which the material may have been
obtained. One of these, named “Flint Ridge,” exists in the counties
of Muskingum and Licking, in Ohio. It extends for many miles, and
countless pits are to be observed throughout its entire length,
from which the stone was taken. These excavations are often ten or
fourteen feet deep, and occupy acres in extent. It is possible that
the late, as well as the more remote races worked these quarries.
Like the red pipe-stone quarry of the «Coteau des Prairies», this
locality may have been the resort of numerous tribes,—a neutral
ground, where the war-hatchet for the time was buried, and all
rivalries and animosities forgotten.

KNIVES AND OTHER CUTTING INSTRUMENTS.—Knives of flint and obsidian
have been taken from several of the mounds. Some are identical with
those of Mexico, most if not all of which were made of obsidian.
That material, as also some varieties of flint, breaks with a very
clear, conchoidal fracture. With skill and experience in the art,
the mound-builders, as well as the Mexicans, succeeded in striking
off thin, narrow slips, with edges sharp as razors. Clavigero states
that so skilful were the Mexicans in the manufacture of obsidian
knives, that a single workman could produce a hundred per hour.
These answered many of the purposes for which the more delicate
cutting instruments of the present day are used, such as shaving,
and incising in surgical operations, not to mention the part which
they [p215] performed in the bloody observances of the Aztec ritual.
Several knives of this description are represented in the following
engraving, which also exhibits the absolute identity which sometimes
exists between the remains of widely-separated people, and how,
almost as it were by instinct, men hit upon common methods of meeting
their wants.

[Illustration: Fig. 105 Half size.]

No. 1 is of flint from a Scandinavian barrow; No. 2 is of hornstone
from a mound in Ohio; and No. 3 is obsidian from the pyramids of
Teotihuacan in Mexico. Some of these are not less than six inches
in length and three-fourths of an inch in breadth; others are not
more than two inches long, and of exceeding delicacy. Besides these,
and constituting a much larger class, are found cutting implements
chipped with great neatness, so as to produce as clear and smooth
a cutting edge as practicable. In shape they somewhat resemble an
old-fashioned table-knife. Some are composed of the beautiful hyaline
before mentioned, others of obsidian. Some irregular chips of flint
have been found, with one or more sharp edges, which, it is presumed,
were used for like purposes.

[Illustration: Fig. 106.]

[Illustration: Fig. 107.]

There is another variety of cutting instrument which it may not be
out of place to notice here. These consist of hard compact minerals,
worked into a chisel shape. Some have a very sharp, smooth edge,
and form quite a good substitute for metal. Engravings of two, of
full size, are herewith presented. They are formed of very compact
nodules of brown hematite, which have been ground into form and
polished with great labor. They have a submetallic lustre, and very
nearly the specific gravity of iron. A file produces a scarcely
perceptible impression upon their rounded surfaces. Another variety
is occasionally found in [p216] the Eastern States, of which Fig.
107 is an example. They are sometimes composed of slate, and are of
various sizes, often measuring five or six inches in length. They are
very well adapted for flaying animals, and other analogous purposes.

AXES.—The remark made in respect to the occurrence of the
arrow-points, is equally true of the ancient axes. Although abundant
in the valleys occupied by the mound-builders, they are not frequent
in the mounds themselves. Those taken from the tumuli do not,
however, differ materially from others found scattered over the
surface of the earth from the St. Lawrence to Panama and the hills
of Chili. They all have the same general features, and vary only in
their materials and the style of their workmanship. Some of those
found in the mounds and elsewhere at the West, are wrought with great
skill, and from rare and beautiful materials, usually of the granitic
or sienitic series of minerals. Amongst the Mexicans and Peruvians,
axes of obsidian, and of basalt, greenstone, etc., were retained in
common use, long after the discovery of the art of hardening copper.

The form of these relics seems to have been determined entirely by
the manner in which they were designed to be used. Those intended
for deadening trees or as war axes, have grooves for the adjustment
of handles. There are many which are destitute of this feature, and
which were probably designed to be used as chisels or «gouges».
Examples are given of each of these classes.

[Illustration: Fig. 108.]

Fig. 108 is a fine specimen of the ancient axe. It was found within
the large enclosure on Paint creek, noticed on page 58, and is
regarded as a genuine relic of the mound-builders. Its form is almost
identical with that of the forest axe of the present day. It is made
of a very compact greenstone, and measures eight inches in length
by five inches and a half in its greatest breadth, and weighs eight
pounds. The marks of the pointed instrument with which it was chipped
into form, are still discernible, notwithstanding the long use to
which it has evidently been subjected.

The manner in which these instruments are mounted is apparent enough
from their construction, and could hardly be mistaken even though the
explanation were not furnished by the practice of the tribes still
retaining their use.[137] A tough «withe», or green slip of wood
of proper size was bent into the groove and encircled the axe; the
ends were then firmly bound together with ligatures of hide or other
material. [p217] Still further to fasten and render the instrument
firm and immovable in the handle, it was «wedged» on the inner edge,
which usually was slightly hollowed for that purpose.

It is clear, from the weight of many of these axes, that they were
designed to be wielded with both hands. Some weigh not less than
«fourteen» pounds, but most range from six to ten. The average weight
of the ordinary wood-axe of the present day, is about six pounds.

[Illustration: Fig. 109.]

Engravings of a number of axes analogous to that above described,
but less symmetrical in form, are herewith presented, Fig. 109. The
smaller varieties were probably designed for war-axes or hatchets.
They weigh from one to two and three pounds, and frequently have
rounded heads, as if to serve the double purpose of hatchet and club.
Occasionally one is found with a double blade, as shown in No. 1 of
the engraving.

[Illustration: Fig. 110.]

[Illustration: Fig. 111.]

The «Hand-axes» are destitute of grooves, and, as already observed,
seem designed to be used as chisels or gouges. They are more numerous
than the other variety, and are of all sizes, from two inches to a
foot in length. Some, like Fig. 110, are nearly cylindrical; others,
like Fig. 111, are gouge-shaped. Fig. 110 is remarkable as being the
only specimen of this kind of axe recovered from the mounds, under
such circumstances as to establish conclusively that it pertained
to the builders. It is composed of greenstone, and the marks of the
tool, by which it was «pecked» into shape, are distinctly visible
upon it. The subjoined engraving (Fig. 112) presents examples of a
number [p218] of these axes. No. 3 is composed of tough sienite,
is finely worked, and highly polished. No. 4 is of a species of
variegated slate, and was found near Middletown, Connecticut.[138]
Nos. 1 and 2 are miscellaneous examples; both are composed of
greenstone. This form of the stone axe is not peculiar to America.
Numbers, differing only in material, are found in almost all parts
of the globe. Fig. 113 represents two, composed of flint, which
were brought from Denmark, by the late J. F. WOODSIDE, Esq., U. S.
Consul at Copenhagen, and are now in possession of his family, at
Chillicothe, Ohio. They were obtained from a Scandinavian barrow. No.
1 seems to have been simply chipped into shape, and never used; No.
2, on the other hand, is well polished, and has evidently seen much
use. Except in respect to material, they are undistinguishable from
thousands found in the United States.

[Illustration: Fig. 112.]

[Illustration: Fig. 113.]

[Illustration: Fig. 114.]

It will be observed that the various kinds of axes above described,
are imperforate. A few implements have however been discovered, which
are generally called hatchets, and which have holes for the reception
of handles. Examples [p219] are given, Fig. 114. It is clear
nevertheless, both from their form and material, that they were not
designed for use. They may be regarded as having been intended simply
for ornament or display. No. 1 is composed of a beautiful talcose
slate of a greenish brown color, slightly veined with dark lines. It
measures six inches in length, is two inches and a half broad at the
centre, and five inches between the tips.

No. 4 was found in South Carolina, and is composed of a dark
steatite. The others were found in Mississippi, and are for the most
part composed of soft and easily-worked stone.[139]

[Illustration: Fig 115.]

[Illustration: Fig 116.]

[Illustration: Fig 117.]

Fig. 115 is of similar material with No. 1, Fig. 114, is highly
polished, and measures six inches in length. The hole is half an inch
in diameter at one end, but less at the other.[140]

Fig. 116 is an example of a kind of hammer or club-head of stone. It
weighs about two pounds. Articles of this kind are not frequent; and
none have been found in the mounds. It is probable that a withe was
passed around the groove in the middle, and the ends firmly bound
together. By this means the implement might be very efficiently used
as a hammer or war-club. Spherical stones are often found, weighing
from half a pound to two pounds. The manner in which they were
used is, no doubt, correctly explained by Lewis and Clarke: “The
Shoshonee Indians use an instrument which was formerly employed among
the Chippeways, and called by them «pogamoggon». It consists of a
handle, twenty-two inches long, made of wood, covered with leather,
about the size of a whip-handle. At one end is a thong two inches in
length, which is tied to a stone weighing two pounds, enclosed in a
cover of leather. At the other end is a loop of the same material,
which is passed around the wrist to secure the implement, with which
they strike a powerful blow.” It is probable that the pear-shaped
stones represented in the above engraving, Fig. 117, were used in
like manner. Carver describes a weapon, in use by the tribes beyond
the Mississippi river, which consisted of a curiously wrought stone,
enclosed in leather as above, and fastened, like the slung-shot of
the present day, to a thong, a yard [p220] and a half long, which
was also wound around the wrist. These weapons were often used in

[Illustration: Fig. 118.]

PESTLES.—A large number of implements have been discovered, which
have evidently been used for pounding and reducing maize. Fig. 118
presents examples. These weigh generally not more than four or
five pounds, though some are much heavier. Occasionally they are
elaborately worked, but most are rude. None of these have been found
in the mounds. Similar articles were in common use among the modern
Indians. Rude mortars of various dimensions, composed of stone, were
also frequent.

[Illustration: Fig. 119.]

IMPLEMENTS OF BONE.—Pointed or sharpened bones of the deer and
elk have been obtained from the ancient deposits in the mounds.
Several are here represented, Fig. 119. They are reduced with entire
regularity; and some of them, notwithstanding their decay, evince
that they were originally highly polished. Nos. 1 and 3 were obtained
from a mound in Cincinnati, and are evidently formed from the tibia
of the elk.[141]

No. 2 was taken, together with several others, from a mound near
Chillicothe, (see page 178,) and measures eight inches in length. It
is formed from the ulna of the deer.

[Illustration: Fig. 120.]

Some very delicate awl-shaped instruments have been found in the
mounds, of which the above are full-sized sketches. They have been
burned, and it is [p221] impossible to tell of what description
of bone they are made. They are as compact as ivory. Judging from
the abundance of fragments, a considerable deposit must have been
made where they were found. None were recovered entire; pieces were
nevertheless found three inches in length. Some have round and
tapering, others flat and chisel-shaped points; resembling in this,
as in other respects, the different varieties of awls in use at the
present day. They were probably used for similar purposes as needles
and bodkins.[142]

Many implements made of elk and deer horns, and of the bones of the
buffalo, have been found with the recent deposits in the mounds.
These are all exceedingly rude.

[Illustration: Fig. 121.]

DISCOIDAL STONES.—A few singular discs of stone have been discovered
in the mounds, which seem related to a very numerous class of relics
found scattered over the surface, from the valley of the Ohio to
Peru. Those from the mounds will claim our first attention. Fig. 121,
Numbers 3 and 5, are examples. They were taken, in connection with
numerous other remains, from a mound numbered 1 within the great
enclosure on the North fork of Paint creek. (See Plate X, [p222]
and also page 157). They are simple discs, (cut from plates of
stone,) perfectly circular, but of variable thickness. The largest
measures three inches and three fourths in diameter, by one inch and
one tenth in thickness; the smallest, two and eight tenths, by nine
tenths. They are of all intermediate sizes; a few have their edges
slightly convex, but most are perfectly plane. Those first found by
individuals residing in the vicinity, were called “«weights»,” from
their resemblance to the iron weights in common use. They are made
of a very dense ferruginous stone, of a black or dark brown ground,
thickly interspersed with minute and brilliant specks of yellow mica;
it receives a remarkably high polish, displaying the mica flakes with
great beauty. The material was, not inaptly, termed “«gold stone»”
by the persons who first discovered it. Several delicately carved
articles of this material have been taken from the same locality;
but it is a singular fact, that none have been found except in this
particular mound. Judging from the accounts of others, and the number
of fragments of these discs disclosed upon a full investigation of
the mound, the deposit must have been very considerable; probably not
less than thirty or forty were originally placed there.

It has been suggested that these stones were used in certain games,
analogous to those known to have been practised by the North American
tribes. The perfect polish of the edges of some of them weighs
against this conclusion. They are certainly enigmatical in their

The numerous class of discoidal stones already referred to, as being
in some degree related to those above described, are composed of
a large variety of hard materials,—granite, porphyry, greenstone,
jasper, quartz, etc.

They are of all sizes from two to six inches in diameter, and of
variable thickness, seldom, however, less than an inch and a half.
Some have concave sides, often perforated; others are solid or
lenticular in shape, with oblique margins. Nos. 1, 2, 4, and 6,
represent four varieties.

The sketches and accompanying sections will give a good idea of their
character. Nos. 1 and 2 are the predominant forms, with sides more
or less concave, and centre perforated. Many of this kind are marked
with radiating lines, resembling bird tracks, as exhibited in No. 1.
Occasionally both surfaces are thus marked. Some of those possessing
concave sides are imperforate. No. 4 constitutes the simplest form,
and approaches nearest to those found in the mounds; a very few are
observed of the form represented by No. 6.

By far the larger proportion of these relics are worked with great
symmetry, and are well polished; some, however, of manifestly similar
purpose, are quite rude in workmanship and of coarse materials. None
have been discovered in the mounds examined by the authors; and it is
doubtful whether any have been found in them elsewhere, except with
the recent deposits. We may safely set them down as of comparatively
modern origin. It is known that, among the Indian tribes on the
Ohio, and along the Gulf, such stones were in common use, in certain
favorite games. Beyond the Mississippi their use is still retained.
They display considerable skill, but undoubtedly fall within the
capabilities of a very rude people. Their shape is that most easily
obtained by attrition or grinding with other stones. [p223] Adair
describes them, and the game in which they were used, and remarks
that they were “from time immemorial rubbed smooth on the rocks, and
with prodigious labor,” and furthermore were so highly valued, “that
they were kept with the strictest religious care from one generation
to another, and were exempted from being buried with the dead.”

It is a singular fact that similar stones are found in Denmark, and
Molina describes them as numerous in Chili. We may conclude that they
everywhere had much the same use.[143] [p224]

RINGS.—Among the implements maybe classed certain small grooved
rings, beautifully worked from stone and bone. Some are composed of
the micaceous stone, of which the mound discs already described are
made, and are carved with the utmost delicacy, and highly polished.
They measure about two inches and three fourths in diameter, and
the thickness of the periphery is half an inch. They are deeply
grooved upon the outer edge, and are pierced by eight small holes,
at equal distances from each other, all radiating from the centre.
Similar rings, of smaller size, have been found, cut from bone. They
are pierced in the same manner with those above described. It is
suggested that they formed part of a drilling apparatus, something
like the “bow and drill” of the present day. Several of larger
size than those here noticed were found, some years since, in a
mound at Cincinnati. A variety of relics are found which resemble
paint-mullers. Some of these are composed of brown hematite, and are
very symmetrical in figure.

[Illustration: Fig. 122.]

TUBES.—Not among the least remarkable and interesting relics,
obtained from the mounds, are the stone tubes, of which several
examples are given in the subjoined engraving, Fig. 122. They are
all carved from fine-grained materials susceptible of receiving a
polish and of being made ornamental, as well as useful. The finest
specimen yet discovered, and which can scarcely be surpassed in the
delicacy of its workmanship, was found in a mound in the immediate
vicinity of Chillicothe. No. 1 is a greatly reduced sketch. It is
composed of a compact variety of slate; the ground is brownish or
leaden green, interstratified with veins of pure black, of variable
thickness, from a line to the fourth of an inch. These, when worked
obliquely to their planes, are decidedly ornamental. This stone cuts
with great clearness, and receives a fine though not glaring polish.
The tube under notice is thirteen inches long, by one and one tenth
in diameter; one end swells slightly, and the other terminates in
a broad, flattened, triangular «mouth-piece», (so called for lack
of a better designation,) of fine proportions, which is carved with
mathematical precision. It is drilled throughout; the bore is seven
tenths of an inch in diameter at the cylindrical end of the tube, and
retains that [p225] calibre until it reaches the point where the
cylinder subsides into the mouth-piece, when it contracts gradually
to one tenth of an inch at the end. The inner surface of the tube
is perfectly smooth, till within a short distance of the point of
contraction. For the remaining distance the circular striæ, formed by
the drill in boring, are distinctly marked. The mound in which this
relic was found is sepulchral in its character, and the burial had
been made by fire. One end of the tube is somewhat discolored by the
heat to which it was exposed. The carving, in this instance, is very
fine, and much superior to anything of which the Indians of this day
are known to be capable.

No. 2 is a sketch of another tube, also found in one of the
sepulchral mounds near Chillicothe (see page 164). It is made of
different material, less beautiful and more destructible than the one
just described,—a variety of limestone. It measures but six inches
in length by three fourths of an inch in diameter; the bore is half
an inch in diameter. The surface is much decomposed; the spots which
have resisted corrosion are polished to the highest degree. The
inner surface is smooth, and retains a uniform calibre to within a
short distance of the reduced end, where it contracts, exhibiting
the circular striæ before noticed. A qualification of the remark
respecting the calibre is perhaps necessary: at a point one inch
and a half from the smaller end is an offset in the bore. Whether
this is the result of accident or design, it is not undertaken to
say; probably the former, as the feature has not been observed in
any others which have fallen under notice. As these tubes have been
regarded with considerable interest, it is deemed proper to note
every circumstance respecting them, even though not considered of
much importance by the investigators themselves.

[Illustration: Fig. 123.]

Fig. 123 represents a tube of somewhat different character.[144] It
is carved from a dark, compact steatite, and measures ten inches in
length by two inches in diameter at the larger, and one inch and a
third at the smaller end. The bore is proportioned to the diameter,
and is one and one tenth, and six tenths of an inch at the ends,
respectively. Upon one side, as if to serve the double purpose of
handle and ornament, is carved in high relief the figure of an owl,
attached with its back to the tube. This carving is remarkably bold
and spirited, and represents the bird with its claws contracted and
drawn up, and head and beak elevated as if in an [p226] attitude of
defence and defiance. The «action» is very fine, but is imperfectly
conveyed by the engraving. The implement weighs little less than
four pounds. It was found in a mound on the Catawba river, Chester
district, South Carolina.

[Illustration: Fig. 124.]

Fig. 124 is a tube of similar material with that last described.[145]
It is six inches long; its greatest and least diameters being one
inch and a quarter, and one inch and a half respectively, with a
proportionate bore. At a point about three inches from the larger
end, is an oval hole or «stop». It was found while ploughing, near
Marietta, Ohio.

It has been suggested that the last two articles were designed as
wind instruments. It is very certain that the skill of the present
day succeeds in producing very indifferent music from them. Either
the art of playing upon them has sadly deteriorated, or the musical
taste of the makers was not regulated by existing standards. It
has further been suggested that tubes of the character of those
first described were designed as auxiliary to the eye in making
distant observations.[146] If it were deemed necessary to attempt an
explanation of the probable purposes of every relic discovered, a
«conjecture», at least, might be based upon the peculiar mouth-pieces
which many of these tubes possess,—namely, that they were used
as «pipes» for smoking purposes. The furthest advance towards
designating their purposes, which it is here ventured to make, is to
class them amongst implements.[147] [p227]

There is another variety of tubes, which it may not be improper
to notice in this connection, though partaking rather of the
character of ornaments than implements. Fig. 125, No. 1, represents
one of these. It is in the form of a triangular prism, with sides
slightly concave and angles rounded. It is three inches in length
by one and three tenths in diameter at the ends, and is perforated
longitudinally; the bore is half an inch in diameter. It is of
the same variety of stone as the large tube first described, and
of similar workmanship. No. 2 is, however, the prevailing form of
articles of this description. It is a hollow cylinder, a little over
four inches in length, swelling gently from the ends to the centre,
where it measures an inch and a quarter in diameter; calibre, half an
inch; material as above. Both these articles are highly polished. It
is possible that they were worn as amulets, or as simple ornaments.
This notion is favored by the fact, that none have been discovered
which are not made of rare and beautiful stones.

[Illustration: Fig. 125.]

PIPES.—The mound-builders were inveterate smokers, if the great
number of pipes discovered in the mounds be admitted as evidence
of the fact. These constitute not only a numerous but a singularly
interesting class of remains. In their construction, the skill of the
makers seems to have been exhausted. Their general form, which may be
regarded as the «primitive» form of the implement, is well exhibited
in the accompanying sketch, Fig. 126. [p228]

[Illustration: Fig. 126.]

They are always carved from a single piece, and consist of a flat
curved base, of variable length and width, with the bowl rising
from the centre of the convex side. From one of the ends, and
communicating with the hollow of the bowl, is drilled a small hole,
which answers the purpose of a tube; the corresponding opposite
division being left for the manifest purpose of holding the implement
to the mouth. The specimen above represented is finely carved from
a beautiful variety of brown porphyry, granulated with variously
colored materials,—the whole much changed by the action of fire, and
somewhat resembling porcelain. It is intensely hard, and successfully
resists the edge of the finest tempered knife. The length of the
base is five inches, breadth of the same one inch and a quarter. The
bowl is one inch and a quarter high, slightly tapering upwards, but
flaring near the top. The hollow of the bowl is six tenths of an inch
in diameter. The perforation answering to the tube is one sixth of an
inch in diameter, which is about the usual size. This circumstance
places it beyond doubt that the mouth was applied directly to the
implement, without the intervention of a tube of wood or metal. It
will be observed that it is ornamented with cup-shaped holes, an
eighth of an inch broad and about the same depth. Seven of these are
placed in a circle upon each side of the bowl, which has a line of
them extending spirally around it.

[Illustration: Fig. 127.]

Fig. 127 is another pipe of a coarse-grained granite. It was not
found in the mounds, but was turned up by the plough, in the vicinity
of one of the large enclosures on the banks of Paint creek. It is
quite unlike those figured above in shape, and perhaps belonged to a
later race.

Such is the general form of these implements. The largest proportion
of those which have been found in the mounds, however, are of much
more elaborate workmanship. Their character has been briefly noticed
on a previous page. (See page 152.) They are sculptured into singular
devices—figures of the human head, and of various beasts, birds,
and reptiles. These figures are all executed in miniature, but
with a strict fidelity to nature. The attitudes of the animals are
characteristic; their very habits, in some cases, are indicated. Most
are worked in porphyry; and all display a truthfulness, delicacy, and
finish, which we are unprepared to look for, except among the remains
of a people considerably advanced in the arts. Some of them represent
animals peculiar to the lower latitudes. Indeed, so remarkable in
many respects are they regarded, in their bearing upon some of
the more important questions connected with American archæology,
particularly the migrations of the race of the mounds, that their
full consideration is reserved for another place. They will be
noticed at length, in connection with similar remains, under the more
appropriate head of “«Sculptures».”

Besides these varieties of pipes, numerous others are found, most
of which are probably referable to a comparatively recent era. They
differ in style from those found in the mounds, and are for the
greater part composed of steatites and other soft and easily worked
varieties of stone. Some are of large size, and are boldly [p229]
though not in general elegantly sculptured. They will also be
noticed under the same head with those last mentioned.

From the appearance of these relics it is fairly inferable that,
among the mound-builders as among the tribes of North American
Indians, the practice of smoking was very general if not universal.
The conjecture that it was also more or less interwoven with their
civil and religious observances, is not without its support. The use
of tobacco was known to nearly all the American nations, and the
pipe was their grand diplomatist. In making war and in concluding
peace it performed an important part. Their deliberations, domestic
as well as public, were conducted under its influences; and no
treaty was ever made unsignalized by the passage of the calumet.
The transfer of the pipe from the lips of one individual to those
of another was the token of amity and friendship, a gage of honor
with the chivalry of the forest which was seldom violated. In their
religious ceremonies it was also introduced, with various degrees of
solemnity. A substitute for tobacco was sometimes furnished in the
tender bark of the young willow; other substitutes were found among
the Northern tribes in the leaves and roots of various pungent herbs.
The custom extended to Mexico, where however it does not seem to have
been invested with any of those singular conventionalities observed
in the higher latitudes. It prevailed in South America and in the
Caribbean islands. The form of the Indian pipe of North America is
extremely variable, and very much the subject of individual taste.
Some are excessively rude, but most are formed with great labor from
the finest materials within reach. Along the Mississippi and among
the tribes to the westward of that river, the material most valued
for the purpose was, and still is, the red pipe-stone of the «Coteau
des Prairies», a beautiful mineral resembling steatite, easily worked
and capable of a high finish. The spot whence it is obtained, and
which is certainly one of the most interesting mineral localities
of the whole country, is regarded with superstitious veneration by
the Indians. It is esteemed to be under the special protection of
the Great Spirit, and is connected with many of their most singular
traditions. Until very recently it was the common resort of the
tribes, where animosities and rivalries were forgotten, and where the
most embittered foes met each other on terms of amity. In carving
pipes from this material they expended their utmost skill, and we
may regard them as the «chef d’œuvres» of modern Indian art. The
following engraving, Fig. 128, from originals, will exhibit their
predominant form, which it will be observed is radically different
from that of the mound pipes. The larger of the two was once the
favorite pipe of the eloquent KEOKUK, chief of the Sacs and Foxes,
whose name occupies a conspicuous place in the Indian history of the
North-west. These pipes were smoked with long tubes of wood, from
twenty inches to three feet in length, fantastically ornamented with
feathers and beads. [p230]

[Illustration: Fig. 128.]

The sculpture of these articles, which is sometimes attempted in
imitation of the human figure and of various animals, is often
tasteful. But they never display the nice observation, and true,
artistic appreciation and skill exhibited by those of the mounds,
notwithstanding their makers have all the advantages resulting from
steel implements for carving, and from the «suggestions» afforded
by European art. The only fair test of the relative degrees of
skill possessed by the two races would be in a comparison of the
remains of the mounds with the productions of the Indians before the
commencement of European intercourse. A comparison with the works of
the latter however, at any period, would not fail to exhibit in a
striking light the greatly superior skill of the ancient people.


[133] The Spaniards entertained a strong dread of these weapons.
Their historians tell some wonderful stories of their efficiency, and
affirm that one stroke was sufficient to cut a man through the middle
or decapitate a horse. The form of this sword, which was called
«mahquahuitl» by the Mexicans, is represented in the accompanying
engraving (Fig. 101).

[Illustration: Fig. 101.]

[Illustration: Fig. 102.]

The Pacific islanders possess similar weapons, formed by inserting
rows of shark’s teeth on the opposite sides of a staff or sword
shaped piece of tough wood, and fastening the same with cords of
native grass. One of this kind from the Aleutian Islands is here
engraved (Fig 102).

[134] Lawson, in his account of the Carolina Indians, published in
1709, mentions having seen at an Indian town “very long arrows,
headed with «pieces of glass», which they had broken from bottles.
They were shaped neatly, like the head of a dart, but the way they
did it I can’t tell” (p. 58). It is probable that these arrows were
pointed with obsidian or quartz, which would be very liable to be
mistaken for glass. Fremont («Second Expedition», p. 267) observed
some Indians, of unusually fearless character, on the «Rio de los
Angelos» of Upper California, who possessed arrows “barbed with a
very clear, translucent stone, a species of opal, nearly as hard as a

[135] Wilkinson’s Egypt, vol. iii. p. 261.

[136] Clarke’s Travels, vol. iii p. 22.

[137] LOSKIEL says of the axes of the Delaware Indians: “Their
hatchets are wedges, made of hard stones, six or seven inches long,
sharpened at the edge, and attached to a wooden handle. They are not
used to fell trees, but only to peel them, and kill their enemies”
(p. 54). ADAIR, speaking of the Southern tribes, observes: “They
twisted two or three hickory slips, about two feet long, around the
notched head of the axe, and by means of this simple and obvious
invention they deadened the trees, by cutting through the bark, and
burned them when they became thoroughly dry” (p. 405).

[138] Presented by JOHN HALL, Esq., New York. Nos. 1 and 2 are in the
cabinet of JAMES MCBRIDE, Esq.

[139] In the cabinets of B. L. C. WAILES, Esq., Washington, Miss.;
and of Rev R. MORRIS, Mount Sylvan, in the same State.

[140] In the cabinet of JAMES MCBRIDE, Hamilton, Ohio.

[141] In the cabinet of ERASMUS GEST, Esq., and drawn by H. C.
GROSVENOR of Cincinnati.

[142] “The needles and thread they used formerly (and now at times)
were fish bones, or the horns or bones of deer rubbed sharp,
and deer’s sinews, and a sort of hemp that grows, among them
spontaneously.”—«Adair’s American Indians», p. 6.

Mr. Stevens found a similar implement with the skeleton, in one of
the ancient tombs near Ticul in Yucatan. “It was made of deer’s
horn, about two inches long, sharp at the point, with an eye at the
other end. The Indians of the vicinity still use needles of the same
material.”—«Travels in Yucatan», vol. i. p. 279.

[143] Rev. J. B. Finley (distinguished for his zealous efforts in
christianizing the Indian tribes of Ohio) states that, among the
tribes with which he was acquainted, stones identical with those
above described were much used in a popular game resembling the
modern game of “ten pins.” The form of the stones suggests the manner
in which they were held and thrown, or rather rolled. The concave
sides received the thumb and second finger, the forefinger clasping
the periphery. Adair, in his notice of the Southern Indians, gives
a minute and graphic account of a game somewhat analogous to that
described by Mr. Finley, in which stones of this description were
used. Du Pratz notices the same game, and fully explains the purpose
of the oblique-edged stones, Nos. 4 and 6 of the text. These, when
rolled, would describe a convolute figure. The lines on the stones,
resembling bird-tracks, were probably in some way connected with
“counting” the game.

“The warriors have another favorite game, called «Chungke»; which,
with propriety of language, may be called ‘running hard labor.’ They
have near their state house a square piece of ground well cleaned;
and fine sand is strewed over it, when requisite, to promote a
swifter motion to what they throw along its surface. Only one or
two on a side play at this ancient game. They have a stone about
«two fingers broad at the edge and two spans round»; each party has
a pole about eight feet long, smooth and tapering at each end, the
points flat. They set off abreast of each other, at six yards from
the edge of the playground; then one of them hurls the stone on its
edge, in as direct a line as he can, a considerable distance towards
the middle of the other end of the square; when they have run a few
yards, each darts his pole, anointed with bear’s grease, with a
proper force, as near as he can guess, in proportion to the motion
of the stone, that the end may lie close to the same;—when this is
the case the person counts two of the game, and in proportion to
the nearness of the poles to the mark, one is counted, unless by
measurement both are found to be an equal distance from the stone.
In this manner the players will keep moving most of the day at half
speed, under the violent heat of the sun, staking their silver
ornaments; their nose, finger, and ear rings; their breast, arm, and
wrist plates; and all their wearing apparel, except that which barely
covers their middle. «All the American Indians» are much addicted
to this game, which appears to be a task of stupid drudgery; it
seems, however, to be of early origin, when their forefathers used
diversions as simple as their manners. (The hurling stones they use
at present were, from time immemorial, rubbed smooth on the rocks,
and with prodigious labor; they are kept with the strictest religious
care from one generation to another, and are exempt from being buried
with the dead.) They belong to the town where they are used, and are
carefully preserved.”—«Adair’s History of American Indians», p. 402.

“The warriors practise a diversion which they call the «game of the
pole», at which only two play at a time. Each pole is about eight
feet long, resembling a Roman f, and the game consists in rolling a
flat round stone, about three inches in diameter and one inch thick,
«with the edges somewhat sloping», and throwing the pole in such a
manner that when the stone rests, the pole may be at or near it. Both
antagonists throw their pole at the same time, and he whose pole
is nearest the stone counts one, and has the right of rolling the
stone.”—«Du Pratz», «History of Louisiana», 1720, p. 366.

Mr. Breckenridge (Views of Louisiana, p. 256) mentions a game popular
among the Arikara, (Riccarees,) played with a «ring of stone». Lewis
and Clarke also mention a game common among the Mandans, similar to
the one above described, and which was also played with «rings of
stone». Mr. Catlin, (vol. i. p. 132) both describes and illustrates
the game, which, among the Mandans as well as among the Creeks, was
denominated “Tchung-kee.”

Discoidal stones analogous, if not identical, with these, have been
found in abundance in Chili. “In the plains and upon the mountains,”
says Molina, “are to be seen a great number of flat circular stones,
of five or six inches in diameter, with a hole through the middle.
These stones, which are either granite or porphyry, have doubtless
received this form by artificial means, and I am induced to believe
that they were the clubs or maces of the ancient Chilians, and that
the holes were perforated to receive the handles.”—«Molina», vol i.
p. 56.

[144] In the possession of J. VAN CLEVE, Esq., of Dayton, Ohio.

[145] In the cabinet of Dr. S. P. HILDRETH, Marietta, Ohio.

[146] Several tubes, of very much the same character with those here
referred to, have been found in the vicinity of the Grave creek
mound. Mr. SCHOOLCRAFT describes them as made out of a compact, blue
and white mottled steatite, measuring from eight to twelve inches in
length, by one inch and four tenths in diameter, and having a bore
of four fifths of an inch, diminishing at one end to one fifth of an
inch. Our author observes:

“By placing the eye at the diminished point, the extraneous light
is shut from the pupil, and distant objects more clearly discerned.
The effect is telescopic, and is the same which is known to be
produced by directing the sight towards the heavens from the bottom
of a well,—an object which we now understand to have been secured
by the Aztec and Maya races in their astronomical observations, by
constructing tubular chambers. The quality of the stone, like most of
the magnesian species, is soft enough to be cut with a knife. It is
evident that the circular lines observed in the calibre were produced
by boring. The circular striæ of this process are plainly apparent. I
learned by inquiry, that a quarry or locality of this species of rock
exists on the banks of Grave creek, some four or five miles above the
mound. This establishes the fact, that they were made here and not
brought from a distance. The degree of skill evinced by these curious
instruments is superior to that observed in the pipe-carvings and
other evidences of North American Indian sculpture.”—«Observations
on the Grave creek Mound, Transactions of American Ethnological
Society», vol. i. p. 406.

[147] According to Vanegas, the “medicine men” of the Californian
tribes of Indians, in their operations for the cure of diseases,
sometimes used tubes of stone. The operation in which they were used,
was a kind of cautery.

“One mode was very remarkable, and the good effect it sometimes
produced heightened the reputation of the physician. They applied
to the suffering part of the patient’s body the «chacuaco», a
tube formed out of a very hard black stone; and through this they
sometimes sucked and at other times blew, but both as hard as
they were able, supposing that the disease was either exhaled or
dispersed. Sometimes the tube was filled with «cimarron» or wild
tobacco lighted, and here they either sucked in or blew down the
smoke, according to the physician’s directions, and this powerful
caustic sometimes, without any other remedy, has been known entirely
to remove the disorder.”—«Vanegas’ California», vol. i. p. 97.



A large proportion of the articles found in the mounds may be classed
as ornaments. It is not undertaken to say, however, that all which
follow under this head were really designed as such. The purposes
of the remains of the mounds generally are so apparent, that little
doubt can exist as to the place which they should occupy in the
simple classification here attempted; but there are a few to which
it is extremely difficult to assign a position. For all essential
purposes, approximate conclusions are sufficiently exact; and
although a good deal of ingenuity and much space might be expended in
speculations upon the probable purposes of relics of doubtful use, it
is not likely that the final result would be of much importance in
its bearings upon archæological science.

BEADS.—The number of beads found in the mounds is truly surprising.
They may be counted in some instances by hundreds and thousands,—each
one the product of no inconsiderable amount of labor, unless our
estimate of the means and facilities at the command of the makers is
greatly underrated. The character of some of these beads, made of
shell and enveloped in metal, has already been noticed. Others are
composed of shell, worked into every variety of shape, round, oblong,
and flattened; others still of animal bones and tusks, and many of
«pearls» and small marine shells,—as the «marginella», «natica»,
«oliva», etc. The perforated teeth of the wild cat, wolf, and shark,
as well as the claws of animals and sections of the small bones of
birds, were also used in the manner of beads, either for purposes
of distinction and decoration, or as amulets. In all these we
observe remarkable coincidences with the decorations of the existing
tribes of Indians, who are extravagant in their use of beads and

The beads found with the skeletons, so far as observation has
extended, are composed of shell or tusks of animals,—those of shell
greatly predominating. The surfaces of some of these are much
discolored and corroded; many, however, [p232] retain their polish
and appear quite sound. They resemble sections cut from the ends
of rods or small cylinders, and subsequently more or less rounded
upon the edge: some are quite flat, and resemble the bone buttons
of commerce; others are perfectly round. Their diameter varies from
one fourth to three fourths of an inch; the size of the perforation
is also variable, usually, however, about one tenth of an inch. Many
exhibit circular striæ upon their surfaces, identical with those
produced by turning in a lathe; and it is possible they were formed
by some such process, instead of being slowly and laboriously «worn»
into shape by rubbing on stones, as was the practice of the modern
Indians. These are composed of the solid portion, the «columella», of
large marine shells. In some of the mounds, the unworked columella
has been found,—heavy and compact; probably that of the «strombus
gigas», which shell is common upon the coasts of Florida.[149]

In the sacrificial or altar mounds a much greater variety of beads
is found than in those devoted to sepulture; a fact for which we
cannot account, unless by supposing that the articles most valued
for their rarity or beauty were those especially dedicated to their
superstitions. It is unfortunate, however, that those placed upon the
altars, like everything else thus disposed of, are so much injured by
the fire as to preserve but little of their former beauty.

[Illustration: Fig. 129.]

The bead here represented is composed of shell, and is well wrought.
Some of this description have been obtained, which are not less than
two inches in length by half an inch in diameter. Abundance of others
have been found of similar material but different shape: some are
round, but most are oblong; a few are lens-shaped.

But the most interesting and remarkable of the whole series are
the «pearl beads», of which a large number have been found in the
altar or sacrificial mounds. By exposure to the heat, they have lost
their brilliancy and consequent value as ornaments; most of them,
indeed, are so much injured that they crumble under the touch. The
peculiarities of their form, and their concentric lamellæ, joined
to the lingering lustre which some retain, place their character
beyond dispute. Several hundreds in number, and not far from a quart
in quantity, are in our possession, which retain their structure
sufficiently well to be strung and handled. The largest of these
measures two and a half inches in circumference, or upwards of three
fourths of an inch in diameter. They are of all intermediate sizes,
down to one fourth of an inch in diameter. Most are irregular in
form, or pear-shaped; yet there are many perfectly round. They have
been obtained from separate localities, several miles apart, and
from five distinct groups of mounds. Great numbers were so much
calcined, that it was found impossible to recover them, and a large
number crumbled in pieces after removal from the mounds. It is no
exaggeration to say [p233] that a number of quarts of pearls were
originally deposited in the mounds referred to; probably nearly two
quarts were contained in a single mound.

It may be inquired whence these pearls were obtained. Occasional
specimens are found in the fresh water molluscs of this region, but
they are exceedingly rare. They are very seldom discovered by our
indefatigable naturalists on the Scioto, (some of whom annually
collect thousands of the living shells,) and are never found of sizes
at all comparable to those of the mounds. We know that among the
natives of the West Indies, and the tribes of the Gulf, pearls were
found in great abundance. Raleigh, Greenville, and others speak of
them among the nations on the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas;
and Soto and Ribaulde observed large quantities among the tribes
of Florida. It is a curious fact, that the Indians, observing the
eagerness with which Soto’s followers sought them, directed him,
according to the chronicler, “to search certaine grauves that were in
the town, and that he should find many; and that if he would send to
the grauves of these dispeopled towns he might load all his horses;
and they sought the grauves of the town, and there found fourteen
«rooxes» of perles, [three hundred and ninety-two pounds,] and little
babies and birds made of them.” At another place the chronicler
observes, they found “some perles of small valew, spoiled with the
fire, which the Indians do string them like beads and weare them
about their necks and hand wrists, and they esteem them very much.”
It is certainly not impossible that the “graves of the deserted
towns” were the mounds themselves; for nothing could possibly be more
in opposition to the Indian character, than to direct the hand of the
invaders to the tombs of their own dead. An extreme and religious
veneration and respect for the “graves of their fathers,” universally
characterizes the North American tribes.[150] They have been known
to undertake long journeys to visit their ancient burial-places, and
there perform the few simple rites enjoined by their superstitions.
Such tributes were supposed to be grateful to the spirits of the dead.

[Illustration: Fig. 130.]

Numerous beads composed of various small marine shells, of the genera
«marginella, oliva», and «natica», pierced longitudinally, have been
discovered. These are all found upon our Southern and South-western
coasts, and in the West Indies.

Another species of beads found in the mounds, were made from some of
the more beautiful varieties of the shells of the unios, so cut and
strung as to exhibit [p234] the convex surface and pearly nacre of
the shell. These must have formed very tasteful ornaments. Some neck
ornaments identical in form and appearance with these were obtained
by the Exploring Expedition, from Paumotou in the Pacific; they are
made of mother of pearl.

Other beads are composed of sections of the small bones of birds.
Similar ornaments are common among the Indians to the west of
the Mississippi, and have been observed among the natives of the
Caribbean islands.

In addition to these several varieties of neck ornaments, may be
enumerated the perforated canine teeth of certain animals, the wild
cat, wolf, and bear; also, the teeth of the shark and the alligator,
and the claws of animals. The latter, separated from the foot at the
first articulation, have been found in considerable numbers. Fig. 131
presents examples of these varieties. Some large imperforate teeth
of animals have been found with skeletons in such positions as to
favor the conclusion that they were inserted into the lobes of the
ear. No. 5 of the cut is an example. Several large «fossil» teeth of
the shark, some of them perforated, have also been obtained from the
mounds, and will be noticed, together with other singular remains of
like character, under the head of “«Fossils and Minerals from the
Mounds».” These relics were perhaps worn as amulets or charms.[151]

[Illustration: Fig. 131.]

A very tasteful variety of enamelled beads is frequently found upon
the surface or with the recent deposits in the mounds. They are
very erroneously supposed by some to have pertained to the race of
the mounds; so far is this from being the case, that they are all
clearly of European origin. The early voyagers availed themselves,
for purposes of traffic with the Indians, of their love of ornament,
[p235] and “brought from the potteries and glass-houses of Europe
various substitutes for the native wampum, in the shape of white,
opaque, transparent, blue, black, and other variously colored beads,
and of as many various forms as the genius of geometry could well
devise. They also brought over a species of paste-mosaic, or curious
oval or elongated beads of a kind of enamel or paste, skilfully
arranged in layers of various colors, which, viewed at their poles,
presented stars, radii, or other figures.”[152]

[Illustration: Fig. 132.]

PENDANTS.—These ornaments are of frequent occurrence in the vicinity
of the ancient works, though seldom found, if indeed found at all,
in the ancient mounds themselves. They for the most part resemble
the «plumbs» of the architect, and are usually made of rare and
beautiful materials. No. 1 may be taken as the predominant form. It
is symmetrically worked from a variety of greenstone, interspersed
with large crystals of mica. It is drawn of half the dimensions of
the original, which measures three and a half inches in length by
one and a fourth in its greatest diameter, and weighs not far from
four ounces. No. 2, also of half size, is well worked from a dark
brown hematite, and is highly polished. No. 3 is also of hematite.
It differs from the others in its shape, which is double conoid,
and has the groove around the middle. Hematite seems to have been
a favorite material for these ornaments. No. 5 is of quartz, and
is much the rudest which has fallen under notice. These articles
were all evidently designed for suspension. It has been suggested
that they were used as ear ornaments; their weight, however, seems
too considerable for such a purpose. To this day some of the savage
tribes have the lobes of their ears greatly distended, in the
language of the early writers, “like hoops,” and the disfiguration is
deemed a great improvement upon nature. “Some of the Indians,” says
Lawson, “wear great «bobs» in their ears, and sometimes in the holes
thereof they put eagle’s feathers, for a trophy.”[153] [p236]

GORGETS.—Numerous relics of the description here presented are
found in the mounds, generally with the skeletons. They seem to be
identical in purpose, (differing only in respect of material,) with
the articles of metal, described under this division (Figs. 89 and
90) in a previous page. They consist of plates or tablets of rare or
beautiful stones, such as may easily be worked, and which admit of a
high finish. In shape they are as diverse as fancy can suggest, but
always of tasteful outline. Some are square, others oblong, oval,
cruciform, or lozenge-shaped. Some are perforated with one, but
most with two holes; the latter have always one, occasionally both,
surfaces perfect planes.[154] Many have considerable thickness and
display one face in relief; those with a single perforation often
have both faces slightly convex. They exhibit, in general, much care
and labor, and are elegantly finished. A few have been discovered
which are quite rude, but possessing the general form of those more
elaborately worked.

[Illustration: Fig. 133.]

Fig. 133. No. 1 is composed of a very compact limestone. The surface
is much corroded, but there are a few spots where it retains its
original condition, and these exhibit a very high polish. Its form is
sufficiently well indicated in the sketch. It measures, in length,
three and a half inches; in width two inches; in thickness one inch
and one tenth. It was found in a sepulchral mound near Chillicothe.
(See page 164.) No. 2 is of the beautiful veined slate already
described (page 224). Length, three inches; width, one and three
fourths; thickness, three fourths of an inch. Found on the surface of
the earth near Chillicothe. [p237]

[Illustration: Fig. 134.]

[Illustration: Fig. 135.]

Fig. 134 is of similar material with that last mentioned. It is three
inches long, one and three fourths wide, and three fourths of an inch
thick. Fig. 135 (half size) differs in material and shape from those
above described. It is composed of a compact ferruginous stone, much
altered by heat, and was found on the altar in the remarkable “Pipe
Mound,” in “Mound City” (page 152). It has but a single perforation.

It is a singular fact that the holes in the three specimens first
noticed, as also in some of those which follow, are placed exactly
four fifths of an inch apart. This could hardly have been the result
of accident. These relics were found at different localities, several
miles distant from each other.

[Illustration: Fig. 136.]

The above engraving presents at one view seventeen figures of as
many different relics of this description,—all of which, with the
exception of No. 7, and Nos. 12 to 17, are drawn of one fourth the
size of the originals. [p238]

No. 1 is a vertical view of Fig. 133, No. 1, and is introduced here
better to illustrate its form. No. 2 was found at Marietta, and is
in the cabinet of Dr. Hildreth of that town. It measures: length,
three inches and a half; width, one inch and nine tenths; thickness,
three fourths of an inch. The material resembles that of which No.
1 is composed. No. 3 is of similar material, and was found beside
a skeleton, in a mound formerly standing within the limits of
Chillicothe.[155] Dimensions: length, six and a half inches; width at
centre, two inches; thickness, four fifths. Nos. 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10,
and 11, as also Nos. 15, 16, and 17, were found at various points in
the Miami valley, and are in the possession of Mr. McBride. Most are
of slate, either dark or variegated. No. 7 is cruciform in shape, and
is composed of coralline limestone, of a very beautiful variety.

[Illustration: Fig. 137.]

These illustrations might be indefinitely multiplied. The above will,
however, give a very clear conception of the general character of
this singular class of relics. Fig. 137 illustrates the manner of the
perforation. The holes are bevelled from one or both surfaces, and
at the narrowest point are seldom more than one eighth of an inch in
diameter. The circular striæ left in the process of boring, are to be
observed with great distinctness in almost every instance.

These relics have been classed as «gorgets», from their «apparent»
purpose. It is not undertaken to say that such was their real
purpose, for none of the many curious remains obtained from the
mounds have more successfully baffled scrutiny. At first glance it
seems obvious that they were designed for suspension, but there
are many circumstances which it is not easy to reconcile with that
conclusion. In common with the perforated copper plates, already
described, they exhibit slight traces of friction upon the edges of
the holes, which for the most part are as sharp as if newly cut.
This could hardly be the case had they been worn suspended from the
neck or upon any part of the person. Their material, shape, and
style of workmanship, would seem to imply an ornamental purpose. It
has been suggested that they were designed as implements, probably
for condensing the raw hide or sinews used as bow-strings. This
hypothesis is founded upon the character of the perforation, which
is certainly such as would best subserve the purpose suggested;
but the slight evidence of friction, already remarked, constitutes
an objection to this conclusion which it is difficult to surmount.

The specimen dug up within the limits of Chillicothe, is said to have
been found resting upon the breast of the skeleton with which it was
deposited. The recollection of different individuals varies upon that
point; hence no conclusion can be founded upon the position in which
the relic was discovered. Those taken from the sepulchral mounds have
uniformly been found by the side of the skeleton, near the bones of
the hand.

Whatever their purposes, whether worn as ornaments or badges of
authority and distinction, or designed as implements, it is certain
they were in very general use. Not far from one hundred have been
examined, which were procured from localities extending over the
States of Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, and

[Illustration: Fig. 138.]

Fig. 138 (half size) also presents examples of a large class of
remains probably of kindred character with those last described,
and, like them, always composed of an ornamental kind of stone. The
engravings will best illustrate their form, which, in almost every
specimen, is slightly varied. They have holes perforated diagonally,
at their lower corners, in which marks of wear from suspension or
use are distinctly visible. The field of their occurrence is equally
extensive with that of the relics last described.

It may reasonably be concluded from the uniform shape of these
articles, and from their apparent unfitness as implements, as also
from the wide range of their occurrence, that they were invested with
a conventional significance as insignia or badges of distinction or
as amulets. We know that the custom of wearing certain stones as
preventives of disease, or as safeguards against accidents or the
malice of evil spirits, has not been confined to one continent or a
single age. It is not entirely obliterated among certain classes of
our own people. Regal authority is still indicated by rich baubles of
gold and gems. It matters little whether the [p240] index of royalty
be a sceptre, or a simple carved and polished stone, so that it is
sanctioned with general recognition.

[Illustration: Fig. 139.]

Fig. 139 (half size) is made of a beautiful variety of quartz, of
a white ground, clouded with green. It is smoothly wrought and
polished, and is perforated from the ends. The shape is well shown by
the engraving and supplementary section. It was probably designed for
suspension, as an ornament.

[Illustration: Fig. 140.]

Fig. 140 (quarter size) is wrought from the beautiful variegated
slate so often referred to. It is marked upon its upper convex
edge with notches, twenty-eight in number. Its purpose must remain
entirely a matter of conjecture.

[Illustration: Fig. 141.]

MICA ORNAMENTS.—Thin sheets of mica, cut in the form of scrolls,
discs, etc., have been occasionally found in the mounds. Fig. 141
presents examples. The scrolls, in this instance, measure six
inches in length, and the discs are two inches in diameter. These
are composed of the silvery or opaque mica, and are shaped with the
utmost precision. The edges are perfectly smooth, as if cut with a
very sharp instrument. They exhibit not the slightest irregularity,
but are geometrically correct. Each piece is perforated with a small
hole, such as would be formed by thrusting a blunt needle through
it. They were probably in some way attached as ornaments to the
dress.[157] [p241]

In the Grave creek mound were found, with one of the skeletons,
about one hundred and fifty bits of mica, an inch and a half or two
inches square, each perforated with two or more small holes. These
slips were about the thickness of ordinary writing paper, and it
is supposed they were attached together, forming a sort of scarf
or ornamental article of dress.[158] Many of the mounds, it may
here be observed, contain mica, sometimes in plates of considerable
thickness, but usually in simple folia, with ragged outlines.

In a mound excavated a year or two since near Lower Sandusky,
Ohio, upwards of twenty oval plates of mica of great beauty were
discovered, each perforated with a small hole at one end, evidently
for the purpose of suspension. They were of the beautiful variety
of the mineral known as “hieroglyphic” or “graphic” mica, and the
natural markings were taken by the persons who discovered them to be
veritable hieroglyphics—the records of an extinct people.

Most of the relics found in the mounds fall under the foregoing heads
of classification. There are many, however, the purposes of which are
entirely enigmatical. Whether designed as implements or ornaments,
or whatever their particular purpose, it is not easy, and probably
of not much importance, to determine. They are only valuable as
illustrations of the skill of their makers, and can have but a slight
bearing upon the more important questions connected with American


[148] Clavigero says of the ancient Mexicans: “It would be difficult
to find a nation which accompanied so much simplicity of dress with
so much variety and luxury in other ornaments of their persons.
Besides feathers and jewels, with which they adorned their clothes,
they wore ear-rings, pendants at the upper lip, and many likewise
at their noses, necklaces, bracelets for the hands and arms, and
also certain rings like collars around their legs. The ear-rings and
pendants of the poor were shells, pieces of crystal, amber, or some
other shining little stones; but the rich wore pearls, emeralds,
amethysts, or other gems, set in gold.”

[149] Several thousands of these beads were found in the Grave creek
mound. They are much thinner than those discovered in the Scioto
valley; otherwise they closely resemble them. They were for a long
time supposed to be «ivory». Their true character was first detected
by Mr. Schoolcraft. See Transactions of American Ethnological
Society, vol. i. p. 398.

[150] “The tombs of the dead,” says Charlevoix, “are held so sacred
in this country, that to violate them is the greatest hostility that
can be committed against a nation.”—«Canada», vol. 2, p. 153.

“Notwithstanding the North American Indians inter the whole riches of
the deceased with him, and so make his corpse and the grave heirs to
all, they never give them the least disturbance;—even a blood-thirsty
enemy will not despoil or disturb the dead.”—«Adair», p. 178.

The Indians of the Columbia river, it seems, have less faith in the
veneration of their race. They take care to bend the gun barrels,
break holes in the vessels, and otherwise render valueless the
various articles deposited with their dead; thereby removing the
temptation to sacrilege.

[151] “Amulets and neck and ear ornaments constituted a very ancient
and important department in the arcanum of the Indian’s wardrobe.
They were connected with his superstitions, and were part of the
external system of his religion. The aboriginal man who had never
laid aside his oriental notions of necromancy, and believed firmly in
witchcraft, wore them as charms. They were among the most cherished
and valued articles he could possibly possess. They were sought
with great avidity, at high prices, and, after having served their
purposes of warding off evil while he lived, were deposited in his
grave at his death. Bones, shells, carved stones, gems, claws and
hoofs of animals, feathers of carnivorous birds, and above all the
skins of serpents, were cherished with the utmost care and regarded
with the most superstitious veneration. To be decked with suitable
amulets, was to him to be invested with a charmed life. They added to
his feeling of security and satisfaction in his daily avocations, and
gave him new courage in war.”—«Schoolcraft’s Notes on the Iroquois»,
p. 226.

[152] SCHOOLCRAFT, “Notes on the Iroquois,” p. 227. It is undoubted
that some of the Indian tribes to the west of the Mississippi
have the art, it is not presumed to say how or where acquired, of
making a sort of enamelled beads, which they contrive to color of
various shades. Some of these, of tolerable workmanship, are in
the cabinet of the authors. They were obtained from the celebrated
«Fond de Bœuf», into which they were thrown under some superstitious
impulse. Lewis and Clarke give an account of the manufacture of these
ornaments, which is fully sustained by the peculiarities of the beads
here mentioned.

[153] LAWSON’S Carolina, p. 193. We have discovered none of these
ornaments in the mounds, and it is difficult to say whether or not
they are genuine relics of the mound-builders. It is possible they
were used both by the earlier and later races. In the Museum of
the East India Society at Salem, Mass., are a number of articles
of similar character, which were found while making excavations in
that city. They are larger and of much ruder workmanship than those
of Ohio, but of the same shape, and grooved in like manner. It has
been suggested that those of hematite, which are most numerous, were
carried about the person for the purpose of supplying an ornamental
paint. Rubbed upon any sharp grit with water, they furnish a dull
red pigment,—much inferior, however, to the French preparations
for the toilette. Irregular fragments of the same material are
sometimes found bearing the marks of frequent trituration. Such may
have been the secondary use of some of these articles; the frequent
occurrence of those made from other materials establishes that they
were primarily designed for other purposes. One composed of pieces of
copper, rudely hammered together with little slips of silver inserted
in the crevices, was found at Marietta, and is now in the cabinet of
the Worcester Antiquarian Society; another, found at Cincinnati, and
composed of quartz crystal, is in the Museum of the Philosophical
Society at Philadelphia. Although found in mounds, it is exceedingly
doubtful whether they were part of the original deposits.

[154] One of these articles, in the possession of Dr. Hildreth of
Marietta, Ohio, is fourteen inches in length and is perforated with
no less than «seven» holes. This seems to have been an exception to
the general rule, perhaps it was designed for a different purpose.

[155] A relic, almost identical in shape with No. 4, was found in
the great mound at Grave creek, and was supposed to be «ivory»,
altered by long exposure in the earth. («American Pioneer», vol. ii.
p. 200.) Mr. Schoolcraft, who examined it subsequently, describes it
as “white, heavy, easily cut, moist, and possessing very much the
appearance and feel of certain oxides,” and suggests that a plate of
some oxidable metal may still exist in the centre. («Transactions of
American Ethnological Society», vol. i. p. 402.) This description
would have applied to the articles described in the text, at the
period of their removal from the earth. They, however, lost their
moist feel and became quite hard upon exposure to the air. The
material was a matter of speculation, until the fracture of one of
the relics disclosed its character. The Grave creek relic measures
six and a half inches in length.

[156] ADAIR mentions ornaments worn by the “high priests” of the
Southern tribes of Indians, which may have been identical with
those here described. He says: “The American archi-magus wears a
breast-plate, made of a white conch shell, with two holes bored in
the middle of it, through which he puts the ends of an otter-skin
strap, and fastens a buck-horn button to the outside of each.”
(«Adair’s American Indians», p. 84.) Our author does not fail to
identify this badge with the sacred urim and thummim of the Jewish
high priest, and draws a notable argument therefrom in support of his
hypothesis of the Jewish origin of the American Indians. A similar
ornament is mentioned by Beverly, as one of the principal decorations
of the Indians of Virginia. He describes it as “a tablet of fine
shell, smooth as polished marble.” («History of Virginia», p. 141.)

[157] Humboldt states that the «Guaynares» of the Rio Caura in South
America are accustomed to stain themselves with arnotto, and to make
broad transverse stripes on the body with some unctuous substance on
which they stick spangles of silvery mica. Seen at a distance they
appear to be dressed in lace clothes («Pers. Narration», ch. xxiv.)
Other nations, both of South and North America, used gold dust or
other shining material, “with which they sprinkled their bodies and
seemed to be gilt.” («Hackluyt», vol. 2, p. 57.)

[158] Mr. Schoolcraft observes that some of the Algonquin bands,
on the sources of the Mississippi, construct war-scarfs out of the
brilliant-colored filaments of skins, ornamented with shells and the
quills of the porcupine, and with the fine black points of deer’s
hoofs to produce a jingling sound. These are attached by strings
to the breast, and are worn only by the warriors.—«Transactions of
American Ethnological Society», vol. i. p. 400.



Many of the carvings in stone, already noticed, display no
inconsiderable degree of taste and skill. There is, however, a
large class of remains, comprising sculptural tablets, and heads
and figures of animals, which belongs to a higher grade of art.
Many of these exhibit a close observance of nature and a minute
attention to details, such as we could only expect to find among
a people considerably advanced in the minor arts, and to which
the elaborate and laborious, but usually clumsy and ungraceful,
not to say unmeaning, productions of the savage can claim but a
slight approach. Savage taste in sculpture is generally exhibited
in monstrosities,—caricatures of things rather than faithful
copies. The dawn of art is marked by a purer taste; the result of
an appreciation of the beauties of nature which only follows their
close observance. The aim of the neophyte is to imitate, rather than
distort, the objects which he sees before him. It is in this view
that the sculptures taken from the mounds seem most remarkable; they
exhibit not only the general form and features of the objects sought
to be represented, but frequently, and to a surprising degree, their
characteristic attitudes and expression.

It will, of course, be understood that nothing of the imposing
character of many of the sculptured relics of Central America is
found in the mounds. Aside from the stupendous earth structures,
which deserve to be classed with the most wonderful remains of
ancient power and greatness, there is nothing imposing in the
monuments of the Mississippi valley. We have no sculptured façades
of temples and palaces, invested with a symbolic meaning or
commemorative of the exploits of chiefs and conquerors, nor have
we ponderous statues of divinities and heroes,—nothing beyond the
simplest form of stone structures. We must therefore estimate the
minor sculptures which we discover here by other standards than
those of Mexico and Peru, with which, from certain resemblances in
other monuments, a comparison would be most likely to be suggested.
They are simple in form as in design, and, as works of art, beyond
a faithful observance of nature and great delicacy of execution,
little can be claimed for them. In these respects they are certainly
remarkable, and will be the more admired, the more closely they are

Some of these sculptures have a value, so far as ethnological
research is concerned, much higher than they can claim as mere works
of art. This value is derived from the fact that they faithfully
represent animals and birds peculiar to other latitudes, thus
establishing a migration, a very extensive intercommunication, or
a contemporaneous existence of the same race over a vast extent of
country. [p243] The interesting inquiry here involved will be more
appropriately made in another place, after an examination of the
relics themselves.

It is a singular fact that no relics which were obviously designed
as «idols» or objects of worship have been obtained from the mounds.
Such are occasionally discovered on the surface, but none, so far as
known, within the enclosures deemed sacred or defensive. Those which
have been found are all of exceedingly rude workmanship, quite unlike
any of the authenticated mound remains. They are more abundant in the
region towards the Gulf than upon the Ohio, though not of frequent
occurrence there. It is perhaps not to be wondered at that we
discover none of these in the mounds, if our estimate of the purposes
to which those structures were appropriated is a correct one.

In presenting the following illustrations of this branch of our
subject, it will not be out of place to repeat the observation
already once made, that, in the construction and ornament of their
pipes, the mound-builders seem to have expended their utmost skill in
sculpture. Accordingly most of the objects represented will be found
to have subserved the purposes of pipes; but as the peculiarities
of these implements have been sufficiently explained under the
appropriate head, their bases and unessential parts have sometimes
been omitted in the engravings. In many instances, the remains
were so much broken up by the action of the fire, that it has been
found impossible fully to restore them, although the utmost care
was expended in collecting the fragments. This will account for the
imperfect character of some of the illustrations. It would have been
an easy matter to have restored many of these relics with the pencil,
but it has been preferred to present an actual fragment rather than
a fanciful whole. All the remains which follow, unless otherwise
specially noted, were taken from the mounds by the authors in person,
and are at present deposited in their collection. They comprise,
however, but a limited selection from the whole number; no more being
presented than are deemed sufficient to give the reader a clear
conception of their general character and great variety. The scale
upon which they are drawn is, generally, full size; when this is not
the case, the dimensions are specially given.

SCULPTURES OF THE HUMAN HEAD.—Few sculptures of the human head have
been found in the mounds, though several have been discovered under
such circumstances as to leave little doubt that they belong to the
mound era. Four specimens were taken from the remarkable altar mound,
No. 8, “Mound City,” three of which constitute the bowls of pipes.
Front and profile views of each of these are herewith presented, of
the size of the originals.

Fig. 142 is composed of a hard, compact, black stone, and is
distinguished from the others by the hardness and severity of its
outline. It has a singular head-dress, falling in a broad fold
over the back of the head, as far down as the middle of the neck.
Upon each side of the top of the head this head-dress, which may
represent some particular style of platting the hair, rises into
protuberances or knots. [p244] Encircling the forehead, and coming
down as low as the ears, is a row of small round holes, fifteen in
number, placed as closely as possible together, which, when the head
was found, were filled in part with pearls, completely calcined and
only recognisable from their concentric lamination. The holes were
doubtless all originally filled in the same manner. The ornamental
lines upon the face are rather deeply cut; their form is accurately
indicated in the engravings. Those radiating from around the mouth
might readily be supposed to represent a curling moustache and beard.
The mouth of this miniature head is somewhat compressed, and the brow
seems contracted, giving it an aspect of severity, which is not fully
conveyed by the engraving. The eyes are prominent and open.

[Illustration: Fig. 142.]

[Illustration: Fig. 143.]

Fig. 143 resembles the one last described only in respect to the
peculiar markings on the face, already noticed. Its features are
bolder, and the outline of the face quite different. The nose is
large and prominent, the eyes sunken and apparently closed, and
the forehead high and narrow. The head-dress is very remarkable. A
portion of the hair seems gathered in festoons upon either side of
the head above the ears, the remainder centering in a kind of knot
upon the back of the head. The top of the head is covered with a sort
of lappet or fold, which seems detached from the other portions of
the head-dress, simply resting upon the crown. The ears were each
perforated; and from the strongly attached oxide of copper at those
points, were probably ornamented with rings of that [p245] metal.
This head, unlike the others, does not constitute a pipe bowl, but
seems, from the fracture, to have been attached, at the lower and
back part, to a rod carved from the same stone. The base, shown in
the engraving, is simply an addition of plaster to sustain the head
in a vertical position. The material, in this instance, is a compact
yellowish stone, too much altered by the fire to be satisfactorily
made out.

[Illustration: Fig. 144.]

Fig. 144 is composed of the same material with that last described.
Its features are more regular than those of either of the preceding
examples. The nose turns up slightly at the point, and the lips are
prominent. The eyes seem closed, and the whole expression of the
face is a repose like that of death. The head-dress is simple; and
the ears, which are large, are each perforated with four small holes
around their upper edges. At the lower and posterior portion of the
head are drilled, in convergent directions, two holes, each one fifth
of an inch in diameter and half an inch deep. Were they continued one
fourth of an inch further in the same direction, they would intersect
each other. This head is destitute of markings upon the face. It has
been suggested, from the greater delicacy of the features, that this
was designed to represent a female.

[Illustration: Fig. 145.]

Fig. 145. This is the most beautiful head of the series, and is
evidently that of a female. It is carved from a compact stone, which
is much altered, and in some places the color entirely changed by
the action of the fire. The muscles of the face are [p246] well
exhibited, and the forehead finely moulded. The eyes are prominent
and open, and the lips full and rounded. Whether the head is encased
in a sort of hood, or whether the hair is platted across the forehead
and down the sides of the face, it is not easy to say. The knots
observable at the top of the forehead, and just back of the ears, may
be designed to represent the manner in which the hair was gathered or
wound. The workmanship of this head is unsurpassed by any specimen
of ancient American art which has fallen under the notice of the
authors, not excepting the best productions of Mexico and Peru. The
whole is smooth and well polished.

These heads are valuable as being the only ones taken from the
mounds, the ancient date of which is clearly established. In the same
mounds in which they were found, it has already been observed, were
also found upwards of a hundred miniature sculptures of animals,
most of which are indigenous. The fidelity to nature observed in the
latter fully warrant us in believing that the sculptures of the human
heads discovered with them are also faithful copies from nature, and
truly display not only the characteristic features of the ancient
race, but also their method of wearing the hair, the style of their
head-dresses, and the character and mode of adjustment of a portion
of their ornaments. This conclusion will appear the more reasonable,
when we come to observe the exactness displayed in the effigies of

It is impossible to overlook the coincidence between the fillet
of «real» pearls displayed upon the forehead of the head first
described, and the similar range of sculptured pearls upon the brow
of the small statue described by Humboldt, and denominated by him the
“statue of an Aztec priestess.”[159] The manner of its adjustment
is in both instances substantially the same, and indicates a common
mode of wearing those ornaments among both the mound-builders and
the Mexicans. The markings upon the faces of two of these sculptures
may be taken as representing paint lines or some description of
tattooing. We know that, among the North American tribes, the custom
of painting the face with every variety of color, and ornamenting
it with fantastic figures, was wide-spread and common. The singular
head-dresses observed in these figures bear little resemblance to
those of the Indians, so far as we know anything of them. The North
Americans usually allowed but a single tuft of hair to grow, which
depended from the centre of the scalp; the hair of the women was
allowed to fall loosely upon the shoulders, or was simply clubbed
behind. Plumes of feathers, or the dried skins of the heads of
certain animals, constituted about their only style of head-dress.
That the practice of wearing rings and pendants in the ears existed
among the race of the mounds may be inferred no less from these
relics than from the character of some of the ornaments which have
been occasionally discovered. The practice was almost universal among
the hunter tribes and the Central American nations.

In respect to the physiological characteristics exhibited by these
relics, it need only be observed that they do not differ essentially
from those of the great [p247] American family, the type of which
seems to have been radically the same through the extent of the
continent, excluding, perhaps, a few of the tribes at the extremes.

[Illustration: Fig. 146.]

Fig. 146 is carved from a light-colored sandstone, and represents a
human figure resting upon its knees and elbows, the soles of the feet
and the palms of the hands being placed together. It is also adapted
as a pipe. It has a singular, painful expression of countenance. A
double set of converging lines start from the eye upon the right side
of the face and extend diagonally across it. Upon the left side is a
single set terminating in a point near the ear. This figure is boldly
but not delicately carved, and was found while digging a mill race,
three feet below the surface, on the west bank of the Miami river,
near the village of Tippecanoe, Miami county, Ohio.[160] It measures
six inches in length by about the same height.

[Illustration: Fig. 147.]

Fig. 147 is a fine specimen of ancient sculpture. It was found within
an ancient enclosure twelve miles below the city of Chillicothe, and,
from the material and style of workmanship, may be regarded as a
relic of the mound-builders. The [p248] material is a fine porphyry
of a greenish brown or lead-colored ground, interspersed with black
and white granules of a harder nature, and is identical with the
material composing many similar articles taken from the mounds. It
has the body of a bird with the head of a man, and is delicately
and symmetrically carved. It is adapted as a pipe; the bowl rising
from the centre of the back communicates with a hole drilled for the
insertion of a stem from the side. The attitude of the entire figure
is graceful, and the proportions of the different parts in admirable
harmony. The face displays less individuality than those already
noticed, and is distinguished for its greater width. The eyes are
closed, and the general expression, especially of the profile, is
that of repose. The ears have been mutilated, but display the usual
marks of perforation. There is no head-dress distinguishable; but
there is a longitudinal band extending from the back of the head to
the body of the figure, the purpose of which is not obvious, unless
designed to strengthen the attachment of the parts. The wings are
closely folded, and a waving line runs along the centre. It measures
five inches in extreme length.

[Illustration: Fig. 148.]

Fig. 148 very closely resembles Fig. 146, above described. The
posture is the same, but the limbs are barely indicated. The head
however is better carved and is more characteristic. It will be
observed that it is also distinguished by a line bounding the face,
and has similar markings extending from the eyes. A large serpent is
folded around the neck, the head and tail resting together upon the
breast of the figure. The head is surmounted by a knot, resembling
the scalp lock of the Indians. It is carved from a compact red
sandstone, and is six inches in greatest length by five inches in
height, with a broad flat base. It was found on the banks of Paint
creek, one mile distant from the city of Chillicothe. It is also
adapted as a pipe. Several other articles, closely resembling these
two, have been found at various points on the surface, but none have
been taken from the mounds. Both in the character of their material
and style of workmanship they sustain a close relationship to certain
“stone idols,” as they [p249] have been termed, found, for the
most part, in the States of Tennessee and Mississippi. One of these
“idols” was discovered some years since, in ploughing upon the Grave
creek Flats in Virginia.[161] It represents a human figure in a
squatting attitude, with its elbows drawn back and its hands resting
upon its knees. It is thirteen inches high by six inches and a half
broad. In material and workmanship it is identical with the articles
last described, and, like Fig. 148, is distinguished by a crown-tuft
or “scalp-lock.” There are two orifices communicating with each other
in its back. It was probably designed to serve as a pipe. A stone
“idol,” destitute however of orifices, was found not long since near
the mouth of the Scioto river. It represents a human figure in a
squatting attitude, the arms clasped around the knees, upon which the
chin is resting. This is the common position of the North American
Indians, when seated around the fires in their wigwams. It seems most
likely that these rough sculptures have a comparatively recent date,
and are the remains of the tribes found in possession of the country
by the whites. As works of art they are immeasurably inferior to the
relics from the mounds.

[Illustration: Fig. 149.]

Fig. 149. This singular specimen of sculpture bears a close
resemblance to those above described, but is of much superior
workmanship. The features and style of ornament are peculiar. The
material is a gray sandstone. It is now deposited in the museum of
the Historical Society of New York; but its history is unknown. It
is clearly the original from which the drawing published by Baron
[p250] Humboldt was made. This drawing was copied by Choris, in his
“«Voyage Pittoresque»,” where it is described as having been found
in an ancient tumulus in the State of Connecticut, and presented
to Baron Humboldt by Baron Hyde de Neuville, French ambassador to
Rio Janeiro. There must, of course, be some mistake as to the place
of its discovery; for there are no ancient tumuli in the State of

[Illustration: Fig. 150.]

Fig. 150 is a mask of the human face roughly carved from sandstone.
It is twelve inches long, seven and a half broad at the ears, and
weighs nearly nine pounds. It is slightly concave upon the back, the
front being proportionally convex. There is a hole underneath the
chin, as if the object had been designed to be carried upon the point
of a staff. It was found, in ploughing, near Lawrenceburgh in the
State of Indiana.[162]

Similar relics, some of which vary little from the above in size, are
found in Mexico. They are said to occur in the ancient Aztec tombs,
covering the faces of skeletons. Many of these are sculptured from
«obsidian», and are smooth and beautifully polished; others are of
serpentine and a variety of ornamental stones.[163] [p251]

[Illustration: Fig. 151.]

[Illustration: Fig. 152.]

Figs. 151 and 152, are front and profile views of a relic found in
Belmont county, Ohio, nearly opposite Wheeling, on the Ohio river.
The original is six inches length. It is composed of sandstone. The
back is deeply grooved, but it exhibits no marks of having ever been
attached to any object.

SCULPTURES OF ANIMALS.—Sculptured figures of a considerable number of
animals have been found in the mounds, including the lamantin, the
beaver, otter, elk, bear, wolf, panther, wild cat, raccoon, oppossum,
and squirrel.

[Illustration: Fig. 153.]

Fig. 153. «The Lamantin, Manitus, or Sea-cow» is not found in this
latitude, but is peculiar to tropical regions. Seven sculptured
representations of this animal have been taken from the mounds,
of which three are nearly perfect. When first discovered, it was
supposed they were monstrous creations of fancy; but subsequent
investigation and comparison have shown that they are faithful
representations of one of the most singular animal productions of the
world. Naturalists assume to know but little of the lamantin, beyond
its form and general characteristics. Its habits are involved in much
obscurity. It is thus described by Godman:

“The general figure of the lamantin is rather elliptical and
elongated. Its head is shaped like a simple truncated cone, and
terminates in a thick fleshy snout, semi-circular at its extremity,
and pierced at the upper part by two small semi-lunar [p252]
nostrils directed forwards. The edge of the upper lip is tumid,
furrowed in the middle, and provided with thick and stiff whiskers.
The lower lip is narrower and shorter than the upper, and the opening
of the mouth is small. The eyes are situated towards the upper part
of the head, at the same distance from the snout as the angle of the
lips. The ears are very small, scarcely perceptible, and placed at
the same distance from the eyes that the latter are from the snout.

“The neck is not distinguished by any diminution or difference in
size from the head and trunk, and the latter does not diminish except
from the umbilicus, whence it rapidly decreases until it spreads out
and becomes flattened, with a broad, thin, and seemingly truncated
extremity. The tail forms about a fourth of the length of the animal.

“The arm-bones which sustain the fins are more separated from
the body than those of the delphinus, and have digits more
distinguishable through the integuments. The edges of the fin have
four flat and rounded nails, which do not extend beyond the membrane,
the nail of the thumb being deficient. The skin is of a gray color,
is slightly shagreened, and has upon it a few scattered hairs, which
are more numerous than elsewhere about the angles of the lips and the
palmar surface of the fins.

“The full-grown lamantin is from fifteen to twenty feet in length, by
eight in circumference, and weighs several thousand pounds.”[164]

“Head not distinct from the body; eyes very small; tongue oval;
vestiges of nails on the margin of the pectoral fins; six cervical
vertebræ; sixteen pair of thick ribs; «moustaches composed of a
bundle of very strong hairs directed downwards and forming on each
side a kind of corneous tusk».”[165]

[Illustration: Fig. 154.]

These external features are faithfully and minutely exhibited in the
sculptures from the mounds. The truncated head, small and scarcely
distinguishable ears, thick, semi-circular snout, peculiar nostrils,
tumid, furrowed upper lip, singular feet or fins, and remarkable
moustaches, are all distinctly marked, and render the recognition
of the animal complete. Only one of the sculptures exhibits a flat,
truncated tail; the others are round. There is however a variety of
the lamantin [p253] («Manitus» «Senigalensis», DESM.) which has a
round tail, and is distinguished as the “round-tailed manitus.” It is
smaller in size than the other variety.

The name of «Manati» was given to this animal by the Spaniards in
consequence of the short anterior extremities, which were regarded
as hands. It has been found difficult to assign a place to it in
the animal creation, and it has been remarked that it “may be
indiscriminately called the last of beasts or the first of fishes.”
It has two pectoral or abdominal mammæ, which from their position
probably gave rise among mariners to the fable of the mermaid.
Columbus, when he first saw these animals in the West Indies, called
them «sirens». They bring forth two young ones at a birth; in defence
of which the manitus, though a peaceable and harmless animal, is
insensible to pain or fear. Its habits are little understood. It is
supposed never to leave the water, but frequents the shores to feed
on the grass at the edge. Sea-grass or fucus and marine herbage are
supposed to constitute its principal if not its only food; though
this is a point upon which naturalists have not ventured to give
a decision. The opinion, however, seems general, that it is an
herbivorous animal.

As before observed, the manitus is found only in tropical waters,
frequenting the mouths of rivers, but sometimes ascending them to
great distances. They were seen by Humboldt in the Rio Meta, a branch
of the Orinoco, one thousand miles above its mouth; and it is said
they are found in the Amazon two thousand miles from the sea. They
are also found among the Antilles on the southern coast of Mexico,
and on the coast and in the rivers of Florida, in the United States.
Excepting upon that peninsula, we have no account of their occurrence
on our coasts. Bartram mentions a singular spring, a few miles below
Tallahassee, Florida, which was frequented by the manitus; and its
bones are found, and occasional living specimens observed, in the
Manitee river, which enters Tampa bay.[166]

The flesh of this animal was used by the Indians for food, and its
bones and thick tough hide employed in various manufactures. It was
hunted for these purposes; and Oviedo, who seems to have been the
first author who noticed it, gives a particular account of the manner
in which it was captured. Bartram observes:

“The basin and stream were continually peopled with prodigious
numbers and varieties of fish and other animals, such as the
alligator, and, in the winter season, the manate or sea-cow. Parts
of the skeleton of one which the Indians had killed last winter, lay
upon the banks of the spring; the grinding teeth were about an inch
in diameter, the ribs eighteen inches long and two and a half inches
in thickness, bending with a gentle curve. This bone is esteemed
equal to ivory. The flesh of this creature is counted wholesome and
pleasant food; the Indians call them by a name which signifies ‘the
big beaver.’ My companion, who was a trader, saw three of them at
one time near this spring; they feed chiefly on aquatic grass and
weeds.”[167] [p254]

Humboldt mentions a branch of the Apures river, itself a tributary
of the Orinoco, “called the «Cano del Manati», from the great number
of manatees caught there.” He states that their flesh is savory,
resembling pork, and was in great request among the Indians during
Lent, being classed by the monks among fishes. The fat was used in
the lamps of the churches, and the hide cut into slips to supply the
place of cordage.[168]

The flesh of this animal furnished formerly a large part of the
subsistence of the inhabitants of St. Christophers, Guadaloupe,
and Martinique. The fat was used at a late day for many of the
purposes to which lard is applied, sometimes supplying the place of

The sculptures of this animal are in the same style and of like
material with the others found in the mounds. One of them is of
a red porphyry, filled with small white and light blue granules;
the remainder are of sandstone, limestone, etc. Most of the mound
sculptures are from these materials.

These singular relics have been thus minutely noticed, inasmuch as
they have a direct bearing upon some of the questions connected
with the origin of the mounds. That we find marine shells or
articles composed from them, in the mounds, is not so much a matter
of surprise, when we reflect that a sort of exchange was carried
on even by the unsympathizing American tribes, and that articles
from the mouth of the Columbia are known to have found their way,
by a system of transfer, to the banks of the Mississippi; their
occurrence does not necessarily establish anything more, than that
an intercourse of some kind was kept up between the builders of
the mounds on the banks of the Ohio, and the sea.[170] There is,
however, something more involved in the discovery of these relics.
They are undistinguishable, so far as material and workmanship are
concerned, from an entire class of remains found in the mounds; and
are evidently the work of the same hands with the other effigies of
beasts and birds. And yet they faithfully represent animals found,
(and only in small numbers,) a thousand miles distant, upon the
shores of Florida. Either the same race, possessing throughout a like
style of workmanship, and deriving their materials from a common
source, existed contemporaneously over the whole range of intervening
territory, and maintained a constant intercommunication; or else
there was at some period a migration from the south, bringing with
it characteristic remains of the land from which it emanated. The
sculptures of the manitus are too exact to have been the production
of those who were not well acquainted with the animal and its habits.

[Illustration: Fig. 155.]

[Illustration: Fig. 156.]

[Illustration: Fig. 157.]

[Illustration: Fig. 158.]

[Illustration: Fig. 159.]

[Illustration: Fig. 160.]


Fig. 155. THE BEAVER.—Three sculptures of the beaver have been
obtained from the mounds,—all in the characteristic attitudes of that
animal. The engraving does not do justice to the original, which is
better proportioned. These animals were frequent in the North-western
States, but have now almost entirely disappeared. The large head,
blunt snout, small ears and eyes, peculiar claws, and broad, oval,
scaly tail, are all well characterized in the sculptures.

THE OTTER.—Two sculptures of the otter have been discovered, one
of which represents the animal grasping a fish in its mouth; it is
however much mutilated. That of which an imperfect engraving (Fig.
157) is given is composed of the peculiar porphyry already described,
and displays in a striking manner the features of the animal. The
flattened head, small mouth, almost imperceptible ears, rounded body,
and short but strong and fin-like legs, no less than the attitude
of the figure, enable us to recognise at once the most active,
courageous, and voracious of the indigenous amphibious animals.
The otter is still found, in limited numbers, about the waters of
the North-western States. The eyes in this specimen were formed by
drilling a narrow but deep hole, which was filled with a material
of different color, resembling bone. In many instances small pearls
were inserted for eyes, some of which have been found retaining their
places, unreduced by the fire to which they have been exposed. This
relic, in common with all the mound sculptures, is delicately carved
and polished.

THE WILD CAT.—Figs. 158, 159, 160. Of this animal and others of the
same genus a large number of sculptures have been obtained. One
of these represents the female animal erect; the remainder are in
characteristic positions. They are very minutely sculptured, the
whiskers and variegated color of the hair around the head, as well
as the general features of the animal,—strong jaws, short neck,
and short thick tail,—are all well exhibited. Fig. 160 presents a
head slightly different from most of the others. It bears a close
resemblance to that of the cougar. Most of these are exquisitely
carved from a red, granulated porphyry, of exceeding hardness,—so
hard, indeed, as to turn the edge of the best tempered knife.

[Illustration: Fig. 161.]

Fig. 161 is a very spirited representation of the head of the elk,
although it is not minutely accurate. [p258]

Numerous other illustrations of these miniatures might be introduced;
the above will, however, convey a very clear notion of the character
of the sculptures and the fidelity of the representations.

[Illustration: Fig. 162.]

Fig. 162 is a fragment of a large and elaborately carved pipe
representing the head of some animal. It is composed of the beautiful
micaceous stone already several times noticed, and in respect of size
is unlike any of the articles of this description which have been
taken from the mounds. The circular striæ left by the instrument
used in boring the tube are distinctly marked. At the termination of
the bore, is what is technically termed “the «core»,” showing that
the drilling had been effected by some hollow instrument, probably
a thin stem of cane. The cane is used at this day by the Indians
for drilling, and with the aid of fine sand and water forms a very
efficient instrument. It is probable that all the tubes, large and
small, found in the mounds, were produced in this manner. This
fragment of sculpture is nine inches long. The bowl was evidently
carved in the form of some animal, but it is too much broken to be
made out.

[Illustration: Fig. 163.]

Fig. 163 is one of the most delicate specimens of ancient workmanship
thus far discovered. It is of the same material with the article last
noticed, and like that has the form of an animal’s head. What animal
it was intended to represent, it is not easy to determine; in the
length of its ears it resembles the rabbit. A portion of the point of
the nose is broken off. It is hollowed like a canoe upon the under
side, leaving but a thin shell of material, not exceeding, for the
most part, the tenth of an inch in thickness. It is perforated with
small holes at the root of each ear, and has a hole, drilled from the
interior, in the crown. It is impossible to conjecture the purpose
to which this article was applied, unless that of ornament. It is
elegantly and symmetrically carved, and highly polished.

SCULPTURES OF BIRDS.—The sculptures of birds are much more numerous
than those of animals, and comprise between thirty and forty
different kinds, and not [p259] far from one hundred specimens. We
recognise the eagle, hawk, heron, owl, buzzard, toucan (?), raven,
swallow, parroquet, duck, grouse, and numerous other land and water
birds. There are several varieties of the same species; for instance,
among the owls, we find the great owl, the horned owl, and the little
owl; there are also several varieties of the rapacious birds. It is
impossible to present examples of all these. The following specimens
will, however, serve amply to illustrate the strict fidelity to
nature which the sculptures display, as also the skill with which
they are executed.

[Illustration: Fig. 164.]

Fig. 164 will readily be recognised as the tufted heron, the most
indefatigable and voracious of all the fisher varieties. The small
body; long wings, extending to the extremity of the short tail;
long, thin neck; sharp bill, and tufted head, are unmistakeable
features. He is represented in the attitude of striking a fish, which
is also faithfully executed. Nothing can surpass the truthfulness
and delicacy of the sculpture. The minutest features are shown; the
articulations of the legs of the bird, as also the gills, fins, and
scales of the fish, are represented. It is carved from the red,
speckled porphyry, already several times mentioned as constituting
the material of many of these sculptures. As a work of art it is
incomparably superior to any remains of the existing tribes of
Indians. The engraving, in point of spirit, falls far short of the
original. [p260]

[Illustration: Fig. 165.]

Fig. 165 represents a rapacious bird, probably some variety of
the eagle or hawk, in the attitude of tearing in pieces a small
bird, which it grasps in its claws. The sculpture is spirited and
life-like, as well as minute and delicate. The wings are folded
across each other; and the finer feathers upon their superior
portions, and upon the thighs, are well represented. The eyes of this
bird were composed of small pearls, inserted about half their depth
in the stone. Pearls seem to have constituted the eyes of nearly all
the birds.

Fig. 166. This fragment also represents some variety of rapacious
bird. It is wrought with admirable skill and spirit, and it is to be
regretted that the entire figure was not recovered.

THE SWALLOW.—Fig. 167. This fine specimen cannot be too much admired
for its fidelity to nature and its excellent finish. The body is
thrown forward, and the wings are apparently about to be expanded,
as if the bird was just ready to dash off on its swift and erratic
flight. This attitude will readily be recognised as eminently
characteristic, by those who have watched the graceful movements
of this active, cheerful bird. The engraving fails to convey the
lightness and spirit of the original, which, it should be mentioned,
is carved in red porphyry.

SUMMER or WOOD DUCK.—Fig. 168. This bird is common throughout the
United States. The head is well characterized, and is admirably
executed. The engraving conveys but an imperfect notion of the
original, which is lighter and of better proportions.

THE TOUCAN. (?)—Fig. 169. The engraving very well represents the
original, which is delicately carved from a compact limestone. It is
supposed to represent the toucan,—a tropical bird, and one not known
to exist anywhere within the limits of the United States. If we are
not mistaken in supposing it to represent this bird, the remarks made
respecting the sculptures of the manitus will here apply with double

Fig. 170. This specimen will readily be recognised as intended to
represent the head of the grouse. It is exceedingly spirited, and
in execution is inferior to none of the articles recovered from the
mounds. Birds of this species, though not abundant in the Scioto
valley, are plentiful on the plains of Indiana and Illinois. The
material is the red granulated porphyry so often mentioned.

Fig. 171. This specimen, which is well exhibited in the engraving,
is carved from a compact limestone. It was probably intended to
represent the turkey-buzzard. This bird is common in southern Ohio.

[Illustration: Fig. 166.]

[Illustration: Fig. 167.]

[Illustration: Fig. 168.]

[Illustration: Fig. 169.]

[Illustration: Fig. 170.]

[Illustration: Fig. 171.]


[Illustration: Fig. 172.]

[Illustration: Fig. 173.]

[Illustration: Fig. 174.]

[Illustration: Fig. 175.]

[Illustration: Fig. 176.]

[Illustration: Fig. 177.]


THE PARROQUET.—Fig. 172. Among the most spirited and delicately
executed specimens of ancient art found in the mounds, is that of the
parroquet here presented. The fragment shown in the cut was alone
recovered. The engraving, though very good, fails to do justice to
the original. The parroquet is essentially a southern bird; and,
though common along the Gulf, is of rare occurrence above the Ohio
river. It is sometimes seen in the Scioto valley, fifty miles above
its mouth.

Fig. 173. The bird here represented much resembles the tufted “cherry
bird.” The head is somewhat disproportioned to the body,—a defect
more common than any other in the mound sculptures. It is carved from
a brown, granulated porphyry, and is finished with great delicacy.
The bowl is ingeniously enlarged, below the opening, so as to admit a
greater quantity of tobacco, or whatever article was smoked, without
interfering with the symmetry of the bird, which a larger bore would
have much impaired.

Fig. 174. This specimen does not differ widely from that shown in
the preceding figure, and was probably intended to represent the
same bird. The too great size of the head observed in the other is
not so marked in this instance. The material somewhat resembles, in
color and substance, the red pipe-stone of the «Coteau des Prairies»,
but has less of the talcose appearance and feel. It receives a very
good finish, but is not susceptible of a high polish. The pearls
which had been inserted in the cavities representing the eyes, were
in this instance found retaining their places. They had lost their
brilliancy in consequence of exposure to the fire, but were yet
easily recognisable.

Fig. 175. The remarks made in respect to the relic last mentioned
apply to the specimen here represented. It is carved in the same
material as Fig. 173, and is probably intended to represent a bird of
the same variety. Nothing can exceed the life-like expression of the

Fig. 176. This specimen seems unfinished, and the features of the
bird sought to be represented are not well made out. It seems to have
been rubbed or ground into its present shape, and is yet unpolished.

Fig. 177. This is one of the least tasteful specimens recovered
from the mounds, and, like the one last noticed, seems to be in an
unfinished state. The lines indicated in the cut are sharply graved
in the stone. It is not undertaken to say what bird is designed to be

Fig. 178. This carving is roughly executed, and represents a bird of
some variety not easily recognisable. The bill is broad and heavy,
and the toes are long and wide-spread. It is evidently intended to
represent a bird in the act of picking up some articles of food,
which are indicated by small circles on the palm of an extended hand.
On account of the convexity of the base of the pipe, these [p266]
details are not shown in the engraving, which in all other respects
is a faithful copy of the original.

From the size of its bill, and the circumstance of its having two
toes before and two behind, the bird intended to be represented would
seem to belong to the zygodactylous order—probably the toucan. The
toucan («Ramphastos» of Lin.) is found on this continent only in the
tropical countries of South America.

[Illustration: Fig. 178.]

Pozzo, a distinguished naturalist, speaks of taming them very
easily. Other travellers inform us that they are very highly prized
by the Indians of Guiana and Brazil, principally on account of
their brilliant plumage. They pluck off the skin from the breast,
containing the most beautiful feathers, and glue it upon their cheeks
by way of ornament. In those districts the toucan was almost the only
bird the aborigines attempted to domesticate. The fact that it is
represented receiving its food from a human hand, would, under these
circumstances, favor the conclusion that the sculpture was designed
to represent the toucan.

[Illustration: Fig. 179.]

Fig. 179. This characteristic specimen is carved in limestone, and
is well finished in every respect. It is uncertain what bird it is
intended to represent. At the tail are two holes, evidently designed
for the insertion of feathers or other ornaments.

Fig. 180. A great variety of fragments have been taken from the
mounds, which it has been found impossible to match with others,
so as to complete the [p267] originals. This is the more to be
regretted, from the fact that many of them denote a degree of skill
equalling, if not surpassing, that displayed in the most complete
specimens. The two heads here presented, probably intended to
represent the eagle, are far superior in point of finish, spirit, and
truthfulness, to any miniature carvings, ancient or modern, which
have fallen under the notice of the authors. The engravings, though
very accurate and spirited, still fail to do full justice to the
originals. The peculiar defiant expression of the “king of birds” is
admirably preserved in the carvings, which in this respect more than
any other display the skill of the ancient artist.

[Illustration: Fig. 180.]

[Illustration: Fig. 181.]

Fig. 181. This engraving, which is half the size of the original, is
introduced simply to illustrate the great variety of devices adopted
by the mound-builders in the construction of their pipes. A number
very much resembling the one here figured, have been recovered.

[Illustration: Fig. 182.]

Fig. 182. This specimen is unfinished, and plainly exhibits the
process adopted by the ancient artist in bringing it to its present
state. None of the more minute details have as yet received any
attention. The base and various parts of the figure exhibit fine
striæ, resulting from rubbing or grinding; but the general outline
seems to have been secured by cutting with some sharp instrument,
the marks [p268] of which are plainly to be seen, especially at the
parts where it would be difficult or impracticable to approach with
a triturating substance. The lines indicating the feathers, grooves
of the beak, and other more delicate features, are cut or graved in
the surface at a single stroke. Some pointed tool seems to have been
used, and the marks are visible where it has occasionally slipped
beyond the control of the engraver. Indeed, the whole appearance
of the specimen indicates that the work was done rapidly by an
experienced hand, and that the various parts were brought forward
simultaneously. The freedom of the strokes could only result from
long practice; and we may infer that the manufacture of pipes had a
distinct place in the industrial organization of the mound-builders.

MISCELLANEOUS SCULPTURES.—Sculptures of serpents, turtles, frogs, and
other animals, have been discovered in abundance; all displaying a
like faithful observance of nature.

Figs. 183 and 184. These sculptures of the toad are very truthful.
The knotted, corrugated skin is well represented in one of them;
which, if placed in the grass before an unsuspecting observer,
would probably be mistaken for the natural object. Fig. 184 is in
an unfinished state. It very well exhibits the mode of workmanship;
while the general surface appears covered with striæ running in every
direction, as if produced by rubbing. The folds and lines are clearly
«cut» with some sort of graver. The marks of the implement «chipping»
out portions a fourth of an inch in length, are too distinct to admit
the slightest doubt that a cutting tool was used in the work. Those
who deem expression in sculpture the grand essential, will find
something to amuse as well as to admire in the lugubrious expression
of the mouths of these specimens.

THE FROG.—Fig. 185. A large number of sculptures of the frog have
been discovered; most, however, are much broken up by fire. This
specimen is carved in white limestone.

Fig. 186 certainly represents the rattle-snake. Other sculptures of
the serpent, coiled in like manner around the bowls of pipes, have
been found. One represents a variety not recognised. It has a broad,
flat head, and the body is singularly marked. All are carved in
porphyry. Two sculptures of the alligator have also been found, but
much broken up by the fire.

Figs. 187 and 188. Two views of a sculptured stone, representing,
probably, the head of a goose; upon the back is carved a death’s
head. It is composed of a hard, black stone, and measures three and
a half inches in length by two and a half in height. Found near
Brookville, Indiana. [p269]

[Illustration: Fig. 183.]

[Illustration: Fig. 184.]

[Illustration: Fig. 185.]

[Illustration: Fig. 186.]

[Illustration: Fig. 187.]

[Illustration: Fig. 188.]


Figs. 189 and 190. These are fragments of sculptures, of which it was
found impossible to collect the various pieces. Fig. 189 is supposed
to represent the head of the bear; Fig. 190 the head of the wolf.

[Illustration: Fig. 189.]

[Illustration: Fig. 190.]

[Illustration: Fig. 191.]

Fig. 191. This is a reduced copy of a curious carving, representing
some animal. Whether it is a “fancy piece,” or whether the original
counterpart exists in nature, it is not assumed to say.

[Illustration: Fig. 192.]

Fig. 192. The remark last made holds good respecting this singular
sculpture. It has been supposed to represent the head and shoulders
of the morse. [p272]

[Illustration: Fig. 193.]

Fig. 193. This is probably a rude representation of the head of
some kind of toad or frog. It is boldly cut, evidently with little
attention to nature, and is chiefly interesting as illustrating the
great variety of figures which these relics assume.

Such is the general character of the sculptures found in the mounds.
It is unnecessary to say more than that as works of art, they are
immeasurably beyond anything which the North American Indians are
known to produce, even at this day, with all the suggestions of
European art and the advantages afforded by steel instruments. The
Chinooks, and the Indians of the North-western Coast, carve pipes,
platters, and other articles, with much neatness, from slate. We see
in their pipes, for instance, a heterogeneous collection of pulleys,
cords, barrels, and rude human figures, evidently suggested by the
tackling of the ships trading in those seas. Their platters, too, are
copies of English ware, differing only in material and ornaments.
The utmost that can be said of them is, that they are elaborate,
unmeaning carvings, displaying some degree of ingenuity. A much
higher rank can be claimed for the mound-sculptures; they combine
taste in arrangement with skill in workmanship, and are faithful
copies, not distorted caricatures, from nature. They display not only
the figures and the characteristic attitudes, but in some cases, as
we have seen, the very habits of the objects represented. So far as
fidelity is concerned, many of them deserve to rank by the side of
the best efforts of the artist-naturalists of our own day.

The Mexicans and Peruvians were very skilful in their representations
of animals, and the early historians are profuse in praise of their
workmanship, extolling it beyond that of the old world. Says La Vega
of the Peruvians:

“They fashioned likewise all beasts and birds in gold and silver;
namely, conies, rats, lizards, serpents, butterflies, foxes, mountain
cats (for they have no tame cats in their houses); and they make
sparrows and all sorts of lesser birds, some flying, some perching in
trees; in short, no creature that was either wild or domestic, but
was made and represented by them according to its exact and natural

Clavigero says of the exceeding skill of the Mexicans in the arts,
that their works “were so admirably finished, that even the Spanish
soldiers, all stung with the same wretched thirst for gold, valued
the «workmanship» more than the materials.” And Peter Martyr,
noticing the works of the people along the coasts of the Caribbean
sea and the Gulf of Mexico, exclaims,—“If man’s art or invention ever
got any honor in such like arts, these people may claim the chief
sovereignty and commendation.”[172]

The method practised by the makers of the articles above mentioned,
in reducing them to shape, seems to have been the very obvious
one resorted to by all rude nations unacquainted with the use of
iron; namely, that of rubbing or grinding upon stones possessing
a sharp grit. The Mexicans, it is said, used tools of obsidian in
their sculptures; and the Peruvians, although possessing implements
of [p273] hardened copper, according to La Vega, “rather wore
out the stone by continued rubbing, than cutting.” Most of the
mound-sculptures have been so carefully smoothed and are so highly
polished, as to show few marks of rubbing; but some have been found,
as has already been shown, in an unfinished state, which exhibit
fully the mode of workmanship. These show that the makers had also
sharp cutting instruments, which were used in delineating the minor
features. The lines indicating the folds in the skin of animals, and
the feathers of birds, are not ground in, but «cut», evidently to
the entire depth, at a single stroke. Sometimes the tool has slipped
by, indicating that it was held and used after the manner of the
gravers of the present day. The time and labor expended in perfecting
these elaborate works from obstinate materials, with no other than
these rude aids, must have given them a high value when finished.
Hence we find a great deal of ingenuity exhibited in restoring them
when accidentally broken. This was accomplished by drilling holes
diagonally to each other in the detached parts, so that by the
insertion of wooden pegs or copper wire, they were, in technical
phrase, “bound together.” This attachment was further strengthened,
in some cases, by bands of sheet copper; occasionally the entire
pipe, when much injured, seems to have been plated over with that
metal. When the fracture was such as materially to injure the tube,
a small copper tube was inserted within it, restoring an unbroken
communication. Many interesting facts of this kind, which perhaps may
seem trivial and unimportant to most minds, might be presented. They
illustrate how highly these remains were valued by their possessors.
The manner in which the drilling was probably accomplished has
already been indicated.

TABLETS.—A few small sculptured tablets have been found in the
mounds. Some of these have been regarded as bearing hieroglyphical,
others alphabetic inscriptions, and have been made the basis of
much speculation at home and abroad. Nothing of this extraordinary
character has been disclosed in the course of the investigations
here recorded; nor is there any evidence that anything like an
alphabetic or hieroglyphic system existed among the mound-builders.
The earthworks, and the mounds and their contents, certainly indicate
that, prior to the occupation of the Mississippi valley by the more
recent tribes of Indians, there existed here a numerous population,
agricultural in their habits, considerably advanced in the arts, and
undoubtedly, in all respects, much superior to their successors.
There is, however, no reason to believe that their condition was
anything more than an approximation towards that attained by the
semi-civilized nations of the central portions of the continent,—who
themselves had not arrived at the construction of an alphabet.
Whether the latter had progressed further than to a refinement upon
the rude picture-writing of the savage tribes, is a question open to
discussion. It would be unwarrantable therefore to assign to the race
of the mounds a superiority in this respect over nations palpably
so much in advance of them in all others. It would be a reversal
of the teachings of history, an exception to the law of harmonious
development, which it would require a large assemblage of well
attested facts to sustain. Such an array of facts, it is scarcely
necessary to add, we do not possess. [p274]

It is true, hardly a year passes unsignalized by the announcement
of the discovery of tablets of stone or metal, bearing strange
and mystical inscriptions,—generally reported to have a “marked
resemblance to the Chinese characters.” But they either fail to
withstand an analysis of the alleged circumstances attending their
discovery, or resolve themselves into very simple natural productions
when subjected to scientific scrutiny. It will be remembered that
some years ago it was announced that six inscribed copper plates
had been found in a mound near Kinderhook, Pike county, Illinois.
Engravings of them and a minute description were published at the
time, and widely circulated. Subsequent inquiry has shown that the
plates were a harmless imposition, got up for local effect; and that
the village blacksmith, with no better suggestion to his antiquarian
labors than the lid of a tea-chest, was chiefly responsible for
them. Within the past two years an announcement was made of the
discovery, in a mound near Lower Sandusky, Ohio, of a series of oval
mica plates, inscribed with numberless unknown characters, which, in
the language of the printed account, probably “contained the history
of some former race that inhabited this country.” These plates were
found, upon examination, to be ornaments of that variety of mica
known as “graphic” or “hieroglyphic mica,”—which is naturally marked
with figures somewhat regular in their arrangement.

The Grave creek mound was also said to have contained a small
stone, bearing an alphabetical inscription, which has attracted
the attention of a number of learned men both in this country and
in Europe. A critical examination of the circumstances attending
the introduction of this relic to the world is calculated to throw
great doubt upon its genuineness. The fact that it is not mentioned
by intelligent observers writing from the spot at the time of the
excavation of the mound, and that no notice of its existence was made
public until after the opening of the mound for exhibition, joined to
the strong presumptive evidence against the occurrence of anything of
the kind, furnished by the antagonistic character of all the ancient
remains of the continent, so far as they are known,—are insuperable
objections to its reception. Until it is better authenticated, it
should be entirely excluded from a place among the antiquities of our

A small tablet was discovered, some years ago, in a mound at
Cincinnati, of which Fig. 194 presents a front, and Fig. 195 a
reverse view.

This relic is now in the possession of ERASMUS GEST, Esq., of
Cincinnati. The circumstances under which it was discovered are thus
detailed by Mr. Gest in a letter published at the time:

“I herewith send you what I deem to be a hieroglyphical stone, which
was found buried with a skeleton in the ‘old mound,’ situated in the
western part of the city, together with two pointed bones, each about
seven inches long, taken from the same spot. (See page 220.)

“In the course of the excavation several skeletons were disinterred;
and their being generally in a good state of preservation and near
the surface, gave rise to [p275] the inference that they were
deposited there since the mound was erected: but the one with which
the sharpened bones and hieroglyphical stone were found, was in a
decayed state. Being in the centre and rather below the level of
the surrounding ground, it was no doubt the object over which the
mound was erected. I have a part of the skull; the remainder of the
skeleton was destroyed by the diggers.”

[Illustration: Fig. 194. From a drawing by H. C. GROSVENOR.]

[Illustration: Fig. 195.]

The position of the skeleton with which it was found, as also the
other circumstances attending the discovery of this relic, leave
little doubt as to its authenticity. It was discovered in December,
1841. The material is a fine-grained, compact sandstone, of a light
brown color. It measures five inches in length, three in breadth at
the ends, two and six tenths at the middle, and is about half an
inch in thickness. The sculptured face varies very slightly from a
perfect plane. The figures are cut in low relief, (the lines being
not more than one twentieth of an inch in depth,) and occupy a
rectangular space four inches and two tenths long, by two and one
tenth wide. The sides of the stone, it will be observed, are slightly
concave. Right lines are drawn across the face near the ends. At
right angles and exterior to these are notches, twenty-five at one
end, and twenty-four at the other. Extending diagonally inward are
fifteen longer lines, eight at one end and seven at the other. The
back of the stone has three deep, longitudinal grooves, and several
depressions, evidently caused by rubbing,—probably produced in
sharpening the instrument used in the sculpture.

Without discussing the “singular resemblance which the relic bears to
the Egyptian «cartouch»,” it will be sufficient to direct attention
to the reduplication of [p276] the figures, those upon one side
corresponding with those upon the other, and the two central ones
being also alike. It will be observed that there are but three
scrolls or figures, four of one description, and two of each of the
others. Probably no serious discussion of the question whether or
not these figures are hieroglyphical is needed. They more resemble
the stalk and flowers of a plant than anything else in nature.
What significance, if any, may attach to the peculiar markings or
graduations at the ends, it is not undertaken to say. The sum of the
products of the longer and shorter lines (24×7+25×8) is 368, three
more than the number of days in the year; from which circumstance
the suggestion has been advanced that the tablet had an astronomical
origin, and constituted some sort of a calendar.

We may perhaps find the key to its purposes in a very humble but
not therefore less interesting class of Southern remains. Both in
Mexico and in the mounds of Mississippi have been found «stamps» of
burned clay, the faces of which are covered with figures, fanciful or
imitative, all in low relief, like the face of a stereotype plate.
These were used in impressing ornaments upon the clothes or prepared
skins of the people possessing them. They exhibit the concavity of
the sides to be observed in the relic in question, intended doubtless
for greater convenience in holding and using it, as also a similar
reduplication of the ornamental figures,—all betraying a common
purpose. This explanation is offered hypothetically as being entirely
consistent with the general character of the mound remains; which,
taken together, do not warrant us in looking for anything that might
not well pertain to a very simple, not to say rude, people.[174]

[Illustration: Fig. 196.]

Fig. 196. From one of the mounds, numbered 1 in the plan of the great
enclosure on the North Fork of Paint creek, (Plate X,) were taken
several singularly sculptured tablets, of one of which the figure
here presented is a copy, so far as it has been found possible to
restore it from the several fragments recovered. It represents a
coiled rattlesnake; both faces of the tablet being identical in
[p277] sculpture, excepting that one is plane, the other slightly
convex. The material is a very fine cinnamon-colored sandstone,
and the style of the sculpture is identical with that displayed in
the tablet from the Cincinnati mound already noticed. The original
is six inches and a quarter long, one and three eighths broad, and
one quarter of an inch thick. The workmanship is delicate, and the
characteristic feature of the rattlesnake perfectly represented. It
is to be regretted that it is impossible to restore the head, which,
so far as it can be made out, has some peculiar and interesting
features,—plumes or ornamental figures surmounting it. Previous to
the investigation of the mound by the authors, an entire tablet
was obtained from it by an individual residing near the spot,
who represents it to have been carefully and closely enveloped
in sheets of copper, which he had great difficulty in removing.
Incited by a miserable curiosity he broke the specimen, to ascertain
its composition; and the larger portion, including the head, was
subsequently lost. The remaining fragment, from its exceedingly well
preserved condition, confirms the statement of the finder respecting
its envelopment. It seems that several of these tablets were
originally deposited in the mound; the greater portions of four have
been recovered, but none displaying the head entire. The person above
mentioned affirms that the head, in the specimen which he discovered,
was surrounded by “feathers;” how far this is confirmed by the
fragment, the reader must judge for himself. The tablets seem to have
been originally painted of different colors: a dark red pigment is
yet plainly to be seen in the depressions of some of the fragments;
others had been painted of a dense black color.

It does not appear probable that these relics were designed for
ornaments. On the contrary, the circumstances under which they were
discovered render it likely that they had a superstitious origin, and
were objects of high regard and perhaps of worship. It has already
been observed, in connection with the account of the great serpentine
structure in Adams county, Ohio, (Plate XXXV,) that the serpent
entered widely into the superstitions of the American nations,
savage and semi-civilized, and was conspicuous among their symbols
as the emblem of the greatest gods of their mythology, both good and
evil. And wherever it appears, whether among the carvings of the
Natchez (who, according to Charlevoix, placed it upon their altars
as an object of worship), among the paintings of the Aztecs, or upon
the temples of Central America, it is worthy of remark, that it is
invariably the «rattlesnake». And as among the Egyptians the «cobra»
was the sign of royalty, so among the Mexicans the rattlesnake was
an emblem of kingly power and dominion. As such it appears in the
crown of «Tezcatlipoca», the Brahma of the Aztec pantheon, and in the
helmets of the warrior priests of that divinity. The «feather-headed
rattlesnake», it should be observed, was in Mexico the peculiar
symbol of «Tezcatlipoca», otherwise symbolized as the sun.


[159] «Researches», vol. i, p. 43.

[160] In the possession of J. VAN CLEVE, Esq., Dayton, Ohio.

[161] See memoir on the Grave creek mound by H. R. Schoolcraft, Esq.,
«Transactions of American Ethnological Society», vol. i. p. 408.
The original is regarded by that gentleman as furnishing tangible
evidence of the existence of idol worship among the North American
tribes. Its purposes, whatever they were, seem to differ but slightly
from those to which the ruder articles noticed in the text were
applied. The orifices in the back are supposed by Mr. Schoolcraft to
be designed for the insertion of the thumb and finger in lifting the
object, or for the introduction of a thong or cord in transporting or
suspending it.

[162] In the collection of JAMES MCBRIDE, Esq.

[163] Several of these masks are embraced in the collection of
Mexican antiques, presented by Mr. POINSETT to the American
Philosophical Society, at Philadelphia.

[164] Godman’s American Natural History, vol. ii. p. 154.

[165] Desm. «Nouv. Hist Nat.», xvii. p. 213.

[166] Observations on the Geology of East Florida, by T. A. Conrad.
Silliman’s Journal of Arts and Sciences for July, 1846.

[167] Butram’s Travels in North America, p. 299.

[168] Humboldt’s Travels and Researches in South America.

[169] Godman’s Natural History, vol. ii. p. 155.

[170] Mr. Schoolcraft mentions, in illustration of the extent of
Indian exchanges in shells and ornaments, that he saw at the foot
of Lake Superior, Indian articles ornamented with the shining white
«Dentalium Elephanticum» from the mouth of the Columbia.

[171] Commentaries of Peru. Book vi. p. 187.

[172] De Orbo Novo, Dec. 4, cap. 9.

[173] For a critical examination of the question of the authenticity
of this relic, see «Transactions of American Ethnological Society»,
vol. ii.

[174] The following just observations are from the published notice
of this relic, accompanying the communication of Mr. Gest, above

“The relic found here was with a skeleton, in the very centre of the
mound, and all the external evidence favors the belief that it was
placed there when the tumulus was raised. But the best evidence of
its genuineness is this, that a person in our times could scarcely
make so perfect an engraving as this stone, and not make it more
perfect, the engraving represents something, whatever it is, the two
sides of which are intended to be alike, and yet no two curves or
lines are precisely alike, nor is there the least evidence of the
use of our instruments to be discovered in the work. So difficult
is it to imitate with our cultivated hands and eyes the peculiar
imperfection of this cutting, that some excellent judges, who at
first doubted the genuineness of the relic, have changed their
opinion upon trying to imitate it. What the sculpture means is
another matter.”



Frequent allusion has been made, in the preceding pages, to the
numerous rare and beautiful varieties of minerals, fossils, and
shells, disclosed from the mounds; but no opportunity has been
afforded to speak of them with desirable fulness. The identification,
accurate or approximate, of the localities from whence these
were obtained, will serve, in a degree, to reflect light upon
the grand archæological questions of the origin, migration, and
intercommunication of the race of the mounds. In this respect
they are of value; for, in the investigations here attempted, we
are compelled to press into the work of elucidation, every fact
and circumstance which can, in any way, affect the subject of our
inquiries. The discovery of «obsidian», a purely volcanic production,
in the mounds, in a region entirely destitute of the evidences
of immediate volcanic action, is, to the commonest apprehension,
a remarkable fact, a subject of wonder; but neither marvels nor
mysticism have aught to do with science. The fact, to the mind of
the rational archæologist, is suggestive only of the inquiry, Whence
was this singular product obtained? Its presence cannot be accounted
for, in the quantities discovered, except upon the supposition that
it was transported from a distance; which supposition involves, of
necessity, intercommunication or migration. To measure the bounds of
intercourse, casual or constant, or define the course of migration,
it is necessary to ascertain the exact primitive locality of the
product in question. So far as we are informed, the nearest point of
its occurrence is Mexico, the ancient inhabitants of which country
applied it extensively to the very purposes for which it was used by
the race of the mounds.

In this process of investigation, there are many circumstances which
must come under view and receive due consideration, before we venture
upon the simplest conclusions. They are, however, entirely omitted in
this connection; the object of the illustration being simply to show
in what general manner facts of this kind may be made subservient,
and of what importance they may become in a system of research, in
which we have neither written record nor even the voice of tradition
to give direction to our inquiries.

It so happens that it is difficult in every case to detect the
true nature of the remains discovered, and often quite impossible
to point out their original localities. Hence the necessity of
presenting a comprehensive view of their extent and character, so
that other laborers in the field of antiquarian research may be able
to institute comparisons, and indicate localities, and thus gradually
work out the grand problems involved in our aboriginal history. The
process may appear [p279] tedious and intricate, and the results
hardly worth the labor of their development; that is, however, a
question open to discussion. The mode of investigation here indicated
is, at any rate, the only one which philosophy sanctions, and which
can ever lead to satisfactory results.

THE METALS.—Silver and copper are the only metals, pertaining to the
race of the mounds, which have been taken from their depositories.
The discovery of gold has been vaguely announced, but the fact is
not well attested.[175] It is not unlikely that articles of gold
have been found, with brass dial-plates, silver crosses, and other
vestiges of European art, among the recent deposits in the mounds;
and it is far from impossible that the metal may yet be disclosed,
under such circumstances as to justify the conclusion that it
was not, as from existing facts it seems to have been, an entire
stranger to the ancient people. Its discovery will be no matter of
surprise; as yet, however, we have no well authenticated instance of
its occurrence. Mention is made, in a published work, of a silver
cup, “finely gilded in the interior,” which was said to have been
found in a mound at Marietta. It will be early enough to ask for
the verification of the statement, when any one shall be found to
claim for the cup any other than a European origin, or assign it an
antiquity beyond the period of the first European intercourse.

As has been already observed, considerable quantities of wrought, and
some small fragments of unwrought native copper, have been extracted
from the mounds. Axes, as we have seen, have been found, wrought
from a single piece, weighing upwards of two pounds each. The metal
appears, in all cases, to have been worked in a cold state. This is
the more remarkable from the fact that, in some instances, the fires
upon the altars were sufficiently intense to melt down the copper
implements and ornaments deposited upon them. The hint thus afforded
does not seem to have been seized upon. In consideration of the
amount of the metal discovered, implying a large original supply, and
the fact that it is occasionally found combined with silver in the
peculiar manner characterizing the native deposits upon the shores
of Lake Superior, we are led to conclude that it was principally, if
not wholly, derived from that region. This conclusion is sustained
by the recent investigations upon the shores of that lake. These
have led to the discovery that the aborigines, from a very remote
period, resorted there to obtain the metal. There is also evidence
that some of the more productive veins were anciently worked to a
considerable extent. “A few rods north of the present ‘«location»’
and works of the North-west Mining Company, and near the foot of the
bluff, are excavations in the earth and rock, in which are found
numerous rude implements of stone, such as hammers and wedges. Pieces
of copper, partially wrought into shape, are to be found at various
places around the works. Upon the earth and rocks thrown from the
pits, large trees are now growing. One of these pits is sunk almost
entirely in the rock, and is not far from seven feet deep. [p280] To
the north-west of this, an open cut mas made, twenty-four feet on the
course of the vein, and from it was taken not less than a bushel of
hammers and wedges of stone and pieces of copper. A few rods to the
northward of the present works on the eastern vein of the ‘Copper
Falls Location,’ and also at some distance to the south-east of the
mines at the Eagle river, similar traces of ancient mining are to be
observed.”[176] [p281]

The tribes visited by De Soto indicated some portion of the South
Appalachian chain as the locality whence they obtained the copper
in their possession. We are ignorant of the sources whence the
Indians on the Hudson procured the copper which was found among
them; it probably reached their hands by a course of exchange with
western tribes, and came from the north-west. Silver has been found
in very small quantities, and was evidently exceedingly rare among
the mound-builders. The specimens recovered are pure, and were
undoubtedly derived from the same locality with the copper.

It is not certain, but nevertheless extremely probable, that the race
of the mounds were acquainted with the art of reducing lead from
its ores; the absence of the metal may be accounted for by the fact
that, from its nature, it could not be applied by them to any useful
purpose. Too soft for axes or knives, too fusible for vessels, and
too soon tarnished to be valuable for ornament, there was little
inducement for its manufacture. Still, unless we suppose that it was
valued and used to a limited extent, we can hardly account for the
amount of galena found in the mounds. The nearest locality, from
which it can be obtained in quantities equal to those found, is the
mineral region of Illinois.

FOSSILS.—A variety of fossils, selected for purposes of use or
ornament, are obtained from the mounds. Among the more remarkable may
be mentioned the fossil teeth of the shark, and some large teeth,
probably cetacean. About one hundred of the latter were found in one
mound; but they were too much burned to be recovered entire. One of
the largest measures six inches in length, by about four inches in
circumference at the largest part. They are destitute of enamel, and
have a pulp cavity at the base, something like those of the whale,
from which, however, they differ widely in shape. They have not yet
been identified, although they have been examined by several eminent
naturalists. The mound-builders evidently used them for various
purposes, and some of the articles supposed to be ivory may have been
made from them. Some of the specimens have been variously wrought,
drilled, sawn, and polished. The striæ produced by sawing are
distinctly visible. Accompanying these were found several beautifully
carved cylinders of a compact substance resembling ivory. These were
variously and tastefully ornamented. One of the rods was originally
fourteen inches in length, and, when found, was closely enveloped
in sheet copper. It has been suggested that these were carved from
the ribs of the manitus; the bones of which animal, [p282] we are
informed by Bartram, were much used by the Southern Indians for
articles of use and ornament.

[Illustration: Fig. 197.—Half size.]

Several of the fossil teeth of the shark recovered from the mounds
are represented in the cut, Fig. 197. It will be observed that they
are of different species. They seem to have been used for various
purposes. Some have holes drilled through them near the base; others
are notched, as if designed to form spear or arrow-heads. Raleigh
observed some used as such among the Indians of Carolina. It seems
most probable that they were designed for cutting purposes. No. 2 is
fragmentary; the remaining portion was not found. It will be seen
that it had a hole drilled through it near the base, and was notched
at the sides. We are of course ignorant of the locality from which
they were obtained. It is a well known fact, however, that they are
abundant in the tertiary formations of the Lower Mississippi.[177]
From this direction must have come the teeth of the alligator, a
number of which have been obtained from the mounds.

PEARLS.—Mention has been made, on a preceding page, of the great
number of pearls found in the mounds. It is incredible to suppose
that a hundredth part of these were obtained from the molluscs of
our rivers. The question then arises, whence were they obtained? As
has already been stated, the Indians of the South and South-west
used them extensively as ornaments at the time of the Discovery, and
at that time, it appears from the chroniclers, maintained regular
fisheries for them.[178] If we may credit the early writers, they
were abundant among all the nations inhabiting the shores and islands
of the Gulf, and were found in considerable numbers on the Atlantic
coast, as far north as Virginia. Raleigh saw them on the coast of
North Carolina. Heriot, in his Voyage to the Shores of Virginia,
says: “Sometimes in feeding on muscles we find pearls; but it was
our hap to meet those which were ragged and of a pied color, not
yet having discovered the country where we heard of better and more
plenty. One of our company, a man of skill in such matters, had
gathered from among the savage people about [p283] «five thousand;»
of which number he chose so many as made a fair chain, which for
their likeness and uniformity in roundness, orientness, and piedness,
of many excellent colors, with equality in greatness, had been
presented to her majesty, had not a casualty by sea lost them.”

Ribaulde, at an earlier day, (1562,) wrote in extravagant terms of
the quantities of pearls which he saw on the coast of Florida. “They
had also a great abundance of pearls; which they declared unto us
they took out of oysters, and in so marvellous abundance, as is scant
credible: and we perceive that there are as many and faire pearls
found there, as in any country of the world. For we saw one man who
had a pearl hanging at the end of a chain of gold and silver, as
great as an acorn at the least.”

The Decades of Peter Martyr teem with exclamations of surprise
and wonder at their great number and beauty; they elicit both his
praise and his philosophy.[179] We may therefore safely derive the
pearls found in the mounds from the Gulf. Together with numerous
other remains, they go to establish an extensive communication with
southern and tropical regions, or a migration from that direction. At
present it is believed no pearl-fisheries are maintained, except upon
the coast of California.

[Illustration: Fig. 198.]

MARINE SHELLS.—The «cassis» and «pyrula perversa» of Lamark; the
«oliva», «marginella», and «natica»; as well as the columella of a
shell, probably the «strombus», have been found in the mounds. A
«cassis» of large size, from which the inner whorls and columella
had been removed to adapt it for use as a vessel, was found in mound
No. 5, in the great enclosure, Plate X. It is doubtful whether this
particular shell belongs to the era of the mounds, or is of a later
date. Portions of these shells have nevertheless been found upon the
altars, and they were consequently known to the mound-builders. This
specimen is eleven inches and a half in length, by twenty-four in
circumference at the largest part. Specimens have been found in the
vicinity of Nashville, from which the inner whorls had been removed
so as to give place to an idol of clay or stone.[180] Fragments only
of the «pyrula», Fig. 198, have been found in the mounds; although
quite a number have been [p284] discovered entire in excavating at
different points in the Scioto valley. In digging the Ohio and Erie
canal, there was found near Portsmouth, its southern terminus on the
Ohio river, a cluster of five or six, which appeared to have been
thus carefully deposited by the hand of man. They were about three
feet beneath the surface. The columellæ of some large shell, probably
the «strombus gigas», have also been discovered. Most of the shell
beads and ornaments from the mounds appear to have been manufactured
from them.

All these shells are found in the Gulf. The «strombus» is observed on
the shores of the West Indies and Florida; the «cassis» occurs in the
same localities, as do also the «pyrula» and the minor shells above
mentioned. A very large number of the «marginella» were taken from
the Grave creek mound.[181]

FLUVIATILE SHELLS.—Examples of the «unios» of the Western rivers also
occur in the mounds, generally entire, but sometimes manufactured.
The «unio ellipticus», «crassus», «rectus», «verrucosus», and
«ovatus» have been identified, all existing, at the present time,
in the neighboring streams. They occur side by side with the marine
shells and other remains heretofore noticed.

MINERALS.—This department is very rich, and comprises some very
interesting and beautiful varieties,—mica, transparent, opaque,
silvery, and graphic; obsidian; quartz, many varieties; serpentine;
porphyry, several beautiful kinds; manganesian garnet, in crystals;
variegated slate, beautifully colored; catlinite or red pipe-stone
(?); limestone, common and coralline, etc., etc.

MICA is abundant in the mounds and in the vicinity of ancient
works, where it is often ploughed up. It seems to be extensively
disseminated, south as well as north. The common, transparent,
silvery or opaque, and graphic or hieroglyphical varieties, have
been discovered; some specimens have a golden color, much resembling
“Dutch leaf.” It is in general neatly cut into ornamental figures,
scrolls, discs, and oval plates. These plates are frequently a foot
or more in diameter, and a fourth or half an inch in thickness. In
a mound at Circleville, a plate is said to have been found, three
feet in length, one foot and a half in breadth, and one inch and
a half in thickness. It has been suggested that these plates were
designed as mirrors; but there seems to be no good foundation for
the supposition.[182] The opaque varieties, from their beauty, seem
to have been uniformly applied to ornamental purposes, having often,
as appears from the holes occasioned by the process, been worked
into scarfs or attached to the martial or priestly robes of the
ancient people. The mineral seems also to have been consecrated to
some religious purpose. It appears at various points in the mounds,
and is sometimes found resting on the breasts or above the heads of
[p285] skeletons. It has also been found covering one sacrificial
altar, and regularly disposed in the form of a crescent before
another. (See pages 144 and 154.) The suggestion has been advanced
that it was consecrated to some divinity, equivalent to the Mexican
«Tezcatlipoca», “Lord of the Light.”

The mica of the mounds is often found fissile and fragile, perhaps
the result of exposure to heat, but generally quite compact and
possessing its original tenacity. Some very fine specimens of the
graphic or discolored mica have been found in the mounds of the
Scioto valley and elsewhere. Fifteen or twenty beautiful oval plates
of this variety were taken recently from a low mound near Lower
Sandusky, Ohio. They are beautiful specimens, stained with a solution
of some of the oxides of iron or manganese, during the process of

Mica, like many other substances, crystallizes in oblique rhombic
prisms whose planes are 60° and 120°. When these planes are colored,
they resemble many letters of the alphabet. The specimens in question
are iridescent, exhibiting all the prismatic colors when the light
falls upon them in a certain direction. These circumstances no
doubt gave rise to the idea that they were painted hieroglyphics.
Graphic mica occurs, in place, on the Schuylkill, some distance above
Philadelphia, and probably in other localities. No original deposit
of the mineral exists in the State of Ohio.

OBSIDIAN, the «itzli» of the Mexicans, and «gallinazo stone» of
the Peruvians. Frequent reference has been had to this mineral,
precluding the necessity of an extended notice here. It has been
observed in five of the mounds excavated in the Scioto valley,
from one of which a number of large and very fine specimens were
obtained (page 155). It is only found in the form of implements, such
as knives and spear and arrow-points. This mineral is a volcanic
product, and occurs, so far as known, no nearer than Mexico, where it
is found in abundance. It is also found in Peru, and was extensively
used by the ancient inhabitants of both countries, for cutting and
warlike implements. They also, notwithstanding its obstinacy and
fragility, worked it elegantly into mirrors, ornamental rings, and
masks.[183] Some specimens have been discovered in the mounds of
Tennessee, which were doubtless obtained from the same source with
those found on the Ohio.[184] All the specimens discovered are glassy
black, subtranslucent, and break with a clear conchoidal fracture.
According to Humboldt, the mountains of Jacul or Cerro Gordo, on
the route between Vera Cruz and the city of Mexico, furnished the
celebrated «itzli» quarries or mines of the ancient Mexicans; the
locality is still known as «El Cerro de los Nabijas», the Mountain of
Knives.[185] This is believed to be the nearest point of its [p286]
occurrence. Lieut. Fremont observed some small nodules in the rocks
of the «Sierra Nevada», lying to the eastward of the valley of the
Sacramento. He also found numerous fragments on the hills bordering
the Lewis fork of the Columbia river.

PORPHYRY.—Most of the sculptured pipes of the mounds are made of a
very fine and beautiful description of porphyry. It occurs of many
shades of color. Some varieties are of a greenish-brown base, with
fine white and black granules; others of a light brown base with
white, purple, and violet-tinged specks; but most are red, with white
and purplish grains. In some specimens the base scarcely exhibits
any admixture either of grains or crystals, and strongly resembles
the red pipe-stone of the «Coteau des Prairies». All are of intense
hardness,—a natural characteristic, or in some degree the result of
the great heat to which they have been subjected. It generally breaks
with a granular fracture, sometimes disengaging the grains of the
foreign material. Under heat it splinters, often on very nearly the
same plane; pieces partly fused into a porous, dull mass, have been
remarked. Heat has also the effect of giving a bright black color to
the fragments more particularly exposed to its influence, and some of
the restored sculptures present a striking contrast in the appearance
of their parts. It would seem incredible that the different fragments
originally pertained to the same piece, did they not exactly fit to
each other. One or two of the varieties seem to have an argillaceous
base, adhere slightly when applied to the tongue, and have a marked
argillaceous odor; these exhibit a rather dull surface, while the
others are exquisitely polished. It is difficult to tell how the
ancient inhabitants worked this obstinate material with the elegance
and finish which their sculptures display. It resists the best
tempered blade, and yields reluctantly to the finest grit stones.
Yet it is clear from the markings on certain specimens that it was
cut by some kind of implement. We can only account for the fact by
supposing that it was once much softer than it now is. Under such a
supposition, it is not improbable that it may have been derived from
a locality mentioned by Du Pratz, on the Missouri. So far as the
external features of the stone are concerned, the description is very
exact; we are left in doubt, however, as to the size of the granules,
which in the mound pipes are seldom larger than mustard seeds.

“In this journey of M. de Borgmont, mention is made only of what we
meet with from Fort Orleans, from which we set out, in order to go to
the Padoucas; wherefore I ought to speak of a thing curious enough
to be related, which is found on the banks of the Missouri; and that
is a pretty high cliff, upright from the water. From the middle
of the cliff juts out a mass of «red stone with white spots, like
porphyry», with this difference, that what we are now speaking of is
almost soft and tender like sandstone. It is covered with another
sort of stone of no value; the bottom is an earth like that on other
rising grounds. The stone is easily worked and bears the most violent
fire. The Indians of the country have contrived to strike off pieces
thereof with their arrows, and after they fall in the water plunge
in for them. When they procure pieces large enough to make pipes,
they fashion them with knives and awls. This pipe has a socket two or
three [p287] inches long, and on the opposite side the figure of a
hatchet; in the middle of all is the bort or bowl to put the tobacco

The fashion of the pipe here described is that adopted by the modern
Indians; and the paragraph is introduced as suggestive, rather
than as indicating the unknown locality of this singular stone. A
description of red porphyry is said to occur upon the shores of Lake
Superior; but in the absence of specimens for comparison, it is
impossible to say how far it resembles that found in the mounds.

Many of the ancient carvings are executed in a description of
compact slate, of a dull green ground, relieved with stripes of a
dark black color, giving the stone a fibrous appearance, and leading
many uninformed persons to suppose that it is petrified wood. It has
a very fine grain, cuts clearly and readily, and receives a high
finish. It seems to have been chiefly used for ornamental purposes.
No one has, as yet, been able to identify its primitive locality. A
single implement of this material was found a number of years ago,
near Middletown, Connecticut. (See page 218.)

Another variety of stone, of a high specific gravity, dark ground,
thickly interspersed with minute flakes of salmon-colored mica, is
also found. It is not abundant. It has thus far defied scrutiny, and
its primitive locality is unascertained. It is often very tastefully
worked into rings, figures of animals, etc. It cuts without
difficulty, and receives a very high polish.[187]

The axes, pestles, etc., of the mound-builders, like those formerly
in use by the Indian tribes, are composed of tough sienitic rocks,
greenstone, etc. The material must have been derived from primitive
localities, or from boulders of primitive rocks.

Besides these varieties of stone, we find articles composed of
every description of quartz; of brown hematite; steatite, black and
mottled; slate; limestone, etc. Some very pretty articles are worked
from coralline limestone.


[175] Archæologia Americana, vol. i. p. 176. The report here alluded
to has been traced to its source. The ornament was not of gold but of

[176] These statements are confirmed by several observers. The
subjoined passages are from a letter from the eminent geologist and
mineralogist, Prof. W. W. MATHER.

“I am informed by gentlemen connected with the survey of the
government mineral lands, that abundant traces of ancient mining
are to be observed at the Copper Falls and Eagle river mines. It is
stated that on the hill south of the Copper Falls mine an excavation
several feet in depth, and some rods in length, was discovered
extending along the course of the vein. Fragments of rock, etc.,
thrown out of the excavation, were piled up along its sides, the
whole covered with soil, and overgrown with bushes and trees. On
removing the accumulations from the excavation, stone axes of large
size, made of greenstone, and shaped to receive withe handles, were
found. Some large, round, greenstone masses, that had apparently been
used for sledges were also found. They had round holes bored in them
to the depth of several inches, which seemed to have been designed
for wooden plugs, to which withe handles might be attached, so that
several men could swing them with sufficient force to batter or break
the rock and the projecting masses of copper. Some of them were
broken, and some of the projecting ends of rock exhibited distinct
marks of having been battered in the manner here suggested.”

The great Ontonagon mass of virgin copper, now deposited in
Washington, when found, exhibited marks of having had considerable
portions cut from it, and the ground around was strewn with fragments
of stone axes which had been broken in endeavors to detach portions
of the mass. Henry («Travels» p. 195) observes that the Indians
obtained much copper from the above localities, which they worked
into spoons, bracelets, etc. He saw one piece in their possession,
weighing twenty pounds.

The following additional information embraced in a private letter
to a gentleman of Buffalo, under date of June 15, 1848, relating to
ancient mining on the shores of Lake Superior, will prove highly
interesting in this connection. The new discoveries which it
records seem to establish that the mines were anciently extensively
worked, and the copper extracted in large masses. Were it not for
the abundance of stone implements in the excavations, it might be
supposed that they were the traces of the later operations of the

“The gentlemen connected with Vulcan Mining Company have made some
very singular discoveries in working one of the veins which has been
lately found. They discovered an old cave, excavated centuries ago.
This led them to look for other works of the same kind, and they have
found a number of sinks in the earth which they have traced a long
distance. By digging into those sinks, they find them to have been
made by the hand of man. It appears that the ancient miners worked
on a different principle from that adopted at the present time. The
greatest depth yet found in these holes is thirty feet. After getting
down to a certain depth, the ancient miners drifted along the vein
making an open cut. These cuts have been filled nearly to a level by
the accumulation of soil, and we find trees of the largest growth
standing in the depressions, and also find that trees of a very
large size have grown up and died, and decayed many years since in
the same places there are now standing others of over three hundred
years’ growth. Last week they dug down into a new place, and about
twelve feet below the surface found a mass of copper weighing from
eight to ten tons. This mass was buried in ashes, and it appears the
ancient miners could not handle it, and having no means of cutting
it, probably built fire around it to melt or separate the rock, which
might be done by heating and then dashing on cold water. This piece
of copper is pure and free from corrosion. The upper surface has been
pounded smooth. It appears that this mass of copper was taken from
the bottom of a shaft, at the depth of about thirty feet. In sinking
this shaft from where the mass now lies, they followed the course of
the vein, which dips considerably, this enabled them to raise it as
far as the hole came up with a slant. At the bottom of the shaft were
found skids of black oak from eight to twelve inches in diameter,
these sticks were charred through, as if burnt; large wooden wedges
were also found in the same situation. In this shaft were discovered
a miner’s ‘gad’ and a narrow chisel made of copper. I do not know
whether these copper tools are tempered or not, but they display
good workmanship. There have been taken out of the excavations more
than a ton of cobble-stones, which have been used as mallets. These
stones were nearly round, with a groove cut round the centre, for the
purpose of putting a withe around for a handle. The Chippewas all say
that this work was never done by Indians. This discovery will lead to
a new method of finding veins in this country, and may be of great
benefit to explorers. I suppose the miners will continue to find new
wonders for some time yet, as it is but a short time since they first
found the old mine.”

[177] B. L. C. WAILES, Esq., Proceedings of Sixth Annual Meeting of
the American Association of Naturalists and Geologists, p. 80.—Also
Prof. GIBBS, Jour. Acad. Nat. Sci. second series, vol. i.

[178] De Soto’s Expedition, Supplement to Hakluyt’s Voyages, p. 715.

[179] Peter Martyr, Supplement to Hakluyt’s Voyages, pp. 415, 417,
419, 455, 469, 471, 475, 493, 500, 517, 520, 530, 539, 599; Oviedo,
in Purchas, vol. iii. p. 972.

[180] Transactions of «American Ethnological Society», vol. i. p. 361.

[181] American Pioneer, vol. i. p. 200.

[182] Capt. LYON mentions finding among the Esquimaux, on the
North-east coast, “a mirror composed of a broad plate of black
mica, fitted into a leather frame, so as to be seen from either
side.”—«Narrative», p. 68.

[183] The Mexicans used blades of obsidian in the construction
of their swords; their sacrificial knives and razors were of the
same material; and, from practice, they became so perfect in their
manufacture that, according to Clavigero, “in the space of one hour,
an artist could finish more than a hundred.”—«Clavigero», vol. ii. p.

[184] Transactions of «American Ethnological Society», vol. i. p. 361.

[185] Researches, vol. ii. p. 204.

[186] DU PRATZ, History of Louisiana, p. 179.

[187] A specimen of this mineral was submitted to JAMES T. HODGE,
Esq., of New York, for examination, with the following results: “It
resembles mica in appearance, in fine scales, cemented in one lump.
Color, reddish brown. Before the blow-pipe it does not change. It
fuses with soda, with difficulty, into a dark bead,—soluble in nitric
acid, leaving a considerable residuum of «silicia». The qualitative
analysis gave «alumina», «iron», and «potash», all of which are
ingredients of mica.”



It has already been several times observed that the human remains
found in the mounds are of different eras. The superficial burials,
it has been abundantly shown, are of comparatively late date, and
are to be ascribed to the Indian tribes found in occupation of the
country, at the period of its discovery in the fifteenth century.
These skeletons are seldom deposited more than two or three feet
below the surface, and are generally perfect; the crania rarely if
ever crushed, and the bones still retaining a portion of their animal
matter. In the ancient burials, on the other hand, the skeletons
are almost invariably found at the base of the mounds, and in such
a state of decay as to render all attempts to restore the skull, or
indeed any part of the skeleton, entirely hopeless. The crania, when
not so much decomposed as to crumble to powder beneath the touch, are
crushed and flattened by the falling in of the sepulchral chambers,
and by the weight of the superincumbent earth.

We are therefore unable to present much new light upon the cranial
conformation of the race of the mounds. The only skull incontestibly
belonging to an individual of that race, which has been recovered
entire, or sufficiently well preserved to be of value for purposes of
comparison, was taken from the hill-mound, numbered 8 in the Map of a
section of twelve miles of the Scioto valley, Plate II. Plate XLVII
is a full-sized side view, and Plate XLVIII presents reduced vertical
and front views of the skull in question.

[Illustration: XLVII. From an Ancient Mound in Scioto Valley O.]

[Illustration: XLVIII. Front and Vertical View of the Same.]

The circumstances under which this skull was found are altogether so
extraordinary, as to merit a detailed account. It will be observed
from the map, that the mound above indicated is situated upon the
summit of a high hill, overlooking the valley of the Scioto, about
four miles below the city of Chillicothe. It is one of the most
prominent and commanding positions in that section of country. Upon
the summit of this hill rises a conical knoll of so great regularity
as almost to induce the belief that it is itself artificial. Upon the
very apex of this knoll, and covered by the trees of the primitive
forest, is the mound. It is about eight feet high by forty-five or
fifty feet base. The superstructure is a tough yellow clay, which at
the depth of three feet is intermixed with large rough stones, as
shown in the accompanying section, Fig. 199.

These stones rest upon a dry carbonaceous deposit of burned earth
and small stones, of a dark black color, and much compacted. This
deposit is about two feet in thickness in the centre, and rests upon
the original soil. In excavating the mound, a large plate of mica
was discovered placed upon the stones, at the point indicated by
the letter «a» in the section. Immediately underneath this plate of
[p289] mica and in the centre of the burned deposit, was found
the skull figured in the plates. It was discovered resting upon its
face. The lower jaw, as indeed the entire skeleton, excepting the
clavicle, a few cervical vertebræ, and some of the bones of the feet,
all of which were huddled around the skull, were wanting. No relics
were found with the bones, except a few shells of the fresh-water
molluscs from the neighboring river.

[Illustration: Fig. 199.]

From the entire singularity of this burial it might be inferred that
the deposit was a comparatively recent one; but the fact that the
various layers of carbonaceous earth, stones, and clay were entirely
undisturbed, and in no degree intermixed, settles the question beyond
doubt, that the skull was placed where it was found at the time of
the construction of the mound. Either, therefore, we must admit that
the skull is a genuine relic of the mound-builders proper, or assume
the improbable alternative that the mound in question does not belong
to the grand system of earthworks of which we have been treating.

The skull is wonderfully well preserved; unaccountably so, unless
the circumstances under which it was found may be regarded as most
favorable to such a result. The imperviousness of the mound to water,
from the nature of the material composing it, and its position on the
summit of an eminence subsiding in every direction from its base,
are circumstances which, joined to the antiseptic qualities of the
carbonaceous deposit enveloping the skull, may satisfactorily account
for its excellent preservation.

Of course no general conclusion as to the cranial characteristics
of the ancient people can be based upon a single skull. It may
nevertheless not be wholly unimportant or uninteresting to notice
particularly the more prominent peculiarities of the specimen before
us. The most striking feature is its extraordinary compactness or
roundness. This will best be illustrated by the measurements, which
show the vertical diameter to be 6.2 inches; longitudinal diameter
6.5 inches; inter-parietal diameter 6 inches. The vertical occiput,
the prominent vertex, and great inter-parietal diameter, all of which
are strongly marked in this skull, are, according to Dr. Morton,
features characteristic of the American race, but more particularly
of the family which he denominates the Toltecan, and of which the
Peruvian head may be taken as the type. This skull was accurately
measured by Dr. Morton, with the following results:

 Longitudinal diameter.    6.5 inches.
 Inter-parietal diameter.  6   inches.
 Vertical diameter.        6.2 inches.
 Frontal diameter.         4.5 inches.
 Inter-mastoid arch,      16   inches.
 Inter-mastoid line,       4.5 inches.
 Occipito-frontal arch,   13.8 inches.
 Horizontal periphery,    19.8 inches.
 Facial angle,            81   degrees.
 Internal capacity,       90   cubic inches.


Dr. Morton, in his «Crania Americana», has presented a number of
examples of skulls from the mounds. Five of these are from mounds
within the United States, and three are from the sepulchral tumuli of
Peru. Those of the United States were obtained,—one from the Grave
creek mound, one from a mound near the junction of the French Broad
and Tennessee rivers in Tennessee, one from a mound on the Alabama
river, one from a mound near Circleville in Ohio, and one from a
mound on the Upper Mississippi. The first two may be regarded as
genuine remains of the mound-builders; but it is more than probable,
for reasons already advanced, that the rest are skulls of the recent
Indians, who, as we have seen, often buried in the mounds. Numbers
of these have been discovered by the authors in the mounds, and
the measurements of four of them are introduced in the following
comparative table, A, where they are indicated by an asterisk. This
table exhibits the measurements of the mound skull discovered by the
authors; of the eight skulls described by Dr. Morton; of four modern
skulls recovered from the mounds; of a skull taken from the Mammoth
Cave of Kentucky, three thousand yards from its mouth, and now in the
possession of Messrs. FOWLERS & WELLS, of New York; and also of the
skull of a mummy or desiccated body, taken from the same cave, and
now in the Museum of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester,
Mass. It will be seen that the conclusion already adopted respecting
three of the skulls noticed in the Crania Americana, are sustained
by the general coincidence in measurements between them and those
indubitably of recent date.

The comparatively large facial angle and great internal capacity of
the skull figured in the plate cannot fail to attract attention. The
mean internal capacity of the eight heads presented by Dr. Morton is
but eighty-one cubic inches, while the facial angle does not exceed
seventy-five degrees. The accompanying table, B, exhibiting the mean
results of Dr. Morton’s measurements of American aboriginal heads, as
compared with the skull in question, and the mean measurements of the
skulls supposed to pertain to the race of the mounds, may not prove

According to the same authority, the mean internal capacity of the
Caucasian head is 87 cubic inch; of the Mongolian, 83; Malay, 81;
American, 82; Ethiopian, 78.

From what has been presented, it will be seen that the skull here
described exhibits, in a marked degree, the cranial characteristics
of the American race, of which it may be regarded as a perfect type.
Whether its peculiarities of form may not be, in part, artificial, it
is not assumed to determine. It may nevertheless be observed, that
the Natchez and Peruvians, as also many of the savage tribes, moulded
the heads of their children in a variety of forms. The naturally
vertical occiput was undoubtedly generally rendered the more marked
by the almost universal practice of lashing the infant with its back
against a board, by which it was suspended or carried about.

Several of the inferior maxillary bones of the mound skeletons
have been recovered, nearly entire. They are remarkable for their
massiveness, and seem to have been less projecting than those
pertaining to the skeletons of a later date. [p291]


 A - Mound-builder, From a Mound in the Scioto Valley.
 B - Mound-builder, From the Grave Creek Mound.
 C - Mound-builder, From a Mound in Tennessee.
 D - From a Tumulus Near Santa in Peru (Small).
 E - From a Tumulus in the Valley of Rimac in Peru.
 F - From a Tumulus in the Valley of Rimac in Peru (Small).
 G - ? From a Mound on the Upper Mississippi.
 H - ? From a Mound Near Circleville, Ohio
 I - ? From a Mound in Alabama.
 J - Recent Indian, From a Mound in the Scioto Valley.
 K - Recent Indian, From a Mound in the Scioto Valley.
 L - Recent Indian, From a Mound in the Scioto Valley.
 M - Recent Indian, From a Mound in the Scioto Valley.
 N - From the Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.
 O - Skull of a Mummy Taken From the Great Cave in Kentucky,
  Now in the Museum of Am. Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.

            Cranium A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H
   Longitudinal     6.5   6.6   6.6   6.2   6.9   6.5   7.1   7.3
   Inter-parietal   6     6     5.6   5.4   5.6   5.6   5.3   5.8
   Vertical         6.2   5?    5.6   4.9   5.1   5     5.5   5.4
   Frontal          4.5   —    4.1   4.3   4.4   4.5   4.8   4.4
   arch,           16     —   15.2  14.6  15.3  14.7  14.6  14.6
   line,            4.5   —    4.4   3.8   4.3   3.8   4.2   4.2
   arch,           13.8   —   14    13.3  14    13.2  14.6  14.1
   periphery,      19.8   —   19.5  18.5  19.7  19.2  20    20.3
   angle,          81°   78°   80°   71°   72°   74°   79°   76°
   capacity,       90    —    80    74.5  79    76.5  85.5  86.5

            Cranium I     J*    K*    L*    M*    N     O
   Longitudinal     5.9   7.5   7.1   6.8   6.6   6.1   6.7
   Inter-parietal   6.6   5.3   5.6   5.7   5.2   5.4   5.5
   Vertical         5.1   5.6   5.6   5.5   5.4   5.6   6.2
   Frontal          4.4   4.7   4.9   4.7   4.3   4.4   4.5
   arch,           15.6  15.5  14.8  14.6  14.3  14.5  13.5
   line,            4.4   4.3   4.4   4.4   3.8   4.4   5
   arch,           12.4  15.4  14.2  14.3  13.7  13.6   —
   periphery,      19.6  21    20.3  20    18.6  18.4  19.7
   angle,          72°   76°   77°   —    70°   78°   61° 52ʹ
   capacity,       80    —    —    —    —    75



 A = Mound Skull, From Scioto Valley.
 B = Mound-builders, From Mississippi Valley.
 C = Toltecan Nations, Including Skulls From the Mounds.
 D = Barbarous Nations, With Skulls From Ohio Valley.
 E = American Race, Embracing Barbarous and Toltecan.
 F = Flat Head Tribes of Oregon.
 G = Ancient Peruvians.

 No. = No. of skulls.

             Group A    B           C           D
                        No.  MEAN   No.  MEAN   No.  MEAN
  Longitudinal     6.5  3    6.56   57   6.5    90   7
  Inter-parietal   6    3    5.87   57   5.6    90   5.5
  Vertical         6.2  3    5.93   57   5.3    90   5.4
  Frontal          4.5  2    4.3    57   4.4    90   4.3
  arch,           16    2   15.6    57  14.9    90  14.6
  line,            4.5  2    4.45   57   4.1    90   4.2
  arch,           13.8  2   13.9    57  13.6    90  14.2
  periphery,      19.8  2   19.65   57  19.4    90  19.9
  angle,          81°   3   79° 40ʹ  55  75° 35ʹ  83  76° 13ʹ
  capacity,       90    2   85      57  76.8    87  82.4

             Group E            F           G
                   No.   MEAN   No.  MEAN   No.  MEAN
  Longitudinal     147   6.75   8    6.7    3    6.8
  Inter-parietal   147   5.55   8    6      3    5
  Vertical         147   5.35   8    4.8    3    4.8
  Frontal          147   4.35   8    4.9    3    4.2
  arch,            147  14.75   8   14.6    3   13.3
  line,            147   4.15   8    4.1    3    4
  arch,            147  13.9    8   13.1    3   14.3
  periphery,       147  19.65   8   20      3   18.8
  angle,           138  75° 45ʹ  8   69° 30ʹ  3   67° 20ʹ
  capacity,        144  79.6    8   79.25   3   73.2



Rocks rudely inscribed with figures of men and animals, have been
observed at various points within the United States, and have
commanded no small share of attention. Their general character
seems, however, but imperfectly understood; and for this reason
care has been taken to preserve sketches and descriptions of such
as fell under notice in the progress of the investigations recorded
in this volume. In presenting the following illustrations, we are
not to be understood as supposing that any of these rude monuments
are referable to the era of the mounds, or that they have any
extraordinary significance.

These illustrations comprise sketches of six sculptured rocks which
occur upon the Guyandotte river in Virginia, and which have never
before been noticed; together with a sketch of one occurring upon
the Ohio river, never before figured, but to which distant allusion
has several times been made. Notices of the locality and general
character of several others, occurring chiefly within the valley of
the Ohio, are also appended.

Proceeding upon a very vague intimation of the existence of certain
rocks of this kind, upon the banks of the Guyandotte river, in
Cabell county, Virginia, a visit was made to the locality in the
autumn of 1846. The first of the series of rocks was found near the
pathway, about eight miles above the town of Barbersville, or sixteen
miles above the mouth of the river. It is a large detached block of
weather-worn sandstone, of coarse texture, presenting above ground
a flat but somewhat irregular surface. The edges are much rounded,
and the rock closely resembles the water-worn boulders sometimes
found on the alluvions. Immediately in the centre, which is slightly
depressed, is cut in outline a rude effigy of a human figure, with
arms extended and elevated, and apparently in the attitude of
running. It is manifestly intended to represent a female, the breasts
and other distinctive features being depicted. The action of the
figure is well expressed, and the proportions are not materially
wrong. It is four feet in height. Upon the edges of the rock are
other outlines of the human figure, though too much obliterated to be
traced with satisfaction or exactness. They are considerably less in
size than the one just described. Besides these there are cut into
the rock, at all angles to the plane of stratification, a number of
tracks of various beasts and birds. Among them are those of the deer,
bear, wolf, and turkey. They are very truthfully indicated, and it
is no longer a matter of [p294] surprise that similar sculptures
have been mistaken by the uninformed for veritable impressions from
the feet of the animals themselves. They were cut at a later date
than the other figures, or have been cut deeper or subsequently
retouched. The turkey tracks are as distinct as if they had been left
but yesterday in plastic clay by the bird itself. Among the tracks of
the animals occurs the Roman capital P, exactly formed. This cannot
be supposed to be anything more than an accidental coincidence. The
lines are from one half to three fourths of an inch deep, and for the
most part appear to have been «pecked», instead of chiselled, into
the stone. The rock measures about ten feet square. It lies close by
the side of the road or bridle-path, upon the east bank, and about
seventy-five yards from the river. Just below this point is quite a
broad interval of level land, which is now under cultivation.

[Illustration: Fig. 200.]

From this place onward, the path winds under beetling cliffs of
ragged sandstone, huge blocks of which, occasionally worn into
fantastic shapes, are met at every step. At the distance of two
miles, the traveller comes suddenly upon a confused mass of rocks,
weighing many thousands of tons each, which have fallen from the
very brow of the cliff, crushing the puny forests in their course
and bedding themselves deep in the earth, which it has forced up
in billows around them. Here occur the sculptured rocks of the
Guyandotte. Two only had been heard of originally; but after a
careful examination, removing fallen trees and stones and rubbish,
three others were discovered, which, if not so large, nevertheless
proved quite as interesting as those which had at first attracted
attention. Drawings were taken of these on the spot, which will give
a better conception of the character of the sculptures, than any
description can possibly afford.

Fig. 201. The larger rock measures thirteen feet in length by an
average of ten feet in width. Upon its horizontal face is cut, in
deep outline, the figure of a man, six feet three inches in height,
by two feet in breadth at the shoulders. There seems to have been
no attempt at drapery. The proportions of the figure, the curve
of the leg, etc., are very well represented. The legs are placed
near [p295] together, the feet turned outwards, and the arms
represented close by the side of the body. Something like a cocked
hat, perhaps designed to represent the hair, covers the head. The
face is triangular, and the eyes are represented by lines somewhat
resembling an inverted W. The nose and mouth are indicated by simple
lines. From the neck depends a singular figure, which rests upon the
breast. Perhaps it had a typical meaning, in common with similar
representations among the wild Indians of the present day. The head
of a deer or elk, with its branching antlers, is depicted upon
the face of the rock below, and considerably to the right of the
feet of the principal figure. There are also the tracks of certain
animals, and two rows of round holes, numbering thirteen and fifteen
respectively,—these last perhaps designed to indicate the number of
achievements in war or chase of the chieftain whose effigy is beside
them. There are many other lines; but the surface of the rock is so
much worn and frayed by exposure to the elements, that it is quite
impossible to make them out.

[Illustration: Fig. 201.]

[Illustration: Fig. 202.]

Fig. 202. Upon one of the vertical faces of this rock is cut, in bold
and deep outline, the figure of an eagle, with wings extended as if
just soaring upwards. [p296] This is extremely spirited in design,
and exhibits no small degree of artistic skill,—much more than is
displayed in the engraving. A plume feather rises from the head of
the bird. Immediately by its side is a rude outline of some bird with
long neck and drooping wings. These figures are about two feet in

[Illustration: Fig. 203.]

Fig. 203. Upon another rock, close by the side of the one last
mentioned, from which it appears to have been split off, is a
sculptured group, manifestly representing a hunting scene. A deer or
elk and several human figures, in attitudes of motion, are especially
prominent. There is also a maze of lines which a fanciful mind might
easily convert into an inscription in an ancient alphabet. Many
of these lines are indistinct from exposure; those shown in the
engraving are well marked. The rock measures four feet by ten.

[Illustration: Fig. 204.]

Fig. 204. A third rock near by, almost entirely hidden by the ruins
brought down by the rock avalanche from above, bears upon its face
a figure of angular outline, resembling the outspread skin of some
animal. The eyes and mouth are distinctly marked. By its side is
the figure of a human head, and several wolf and deer tracks. There
may be other sculptures on the rock; the portion exhibited in the
engraving was exposed only by the expenditure of much severe labor,
in the absence of tools for excavation. [p297]

Fig. 205. At the distance of a few rods from these is a small rock,
four feet high by six in length. Upon its vertical face are cut the
head and shoulders of an elk. The figure is faithfully executed,
of full size, and in point of spirit can hardly be excelled by
any outline representation. The savage artist who worked this
head, with his rude instruments, into the living rock, must have
been a close observer of nature. He undoubtedly stood at the head
of his profession—an Indian Landseer! Below this head is a rude
representation of some object, probably a bow, an arrow from which is
entering the neck of the elk.

[Illustration: Fig. 205.]

There are unquestionably other rocks, in this immediate vicinity,
covered over with earth and rubbish from the avalanche. The labors of
the excavator would doubtless be rewarded with other discoveries; the
employment however of some less primitive means than sharpened sticks
and the naked hands can be feelingly recommended.

After leaving the vicinity of these rocks, it was ascertained that
three miles higher up the stream, at a point known as the “Falls of
the Guyandotte,” there are others of a similar character. The figure
of a man, with an upraised tomahawk, and that of a fox or other
animal, are cut in the vertical face of the cliff, over which the
river lately flowed, but which is now left exposed by some change in
the channel of the stream.

The rocks above described occur in a sunny nook a short distance from
the river, at a point where there is a small but beautiful interval
of land. There is here a small earth circle and mound, showing that
the race of the mounds penetrated thus far up the stream.

The rocks are weather-worn fragments of the coarse sandstone of
the coal series, which breaks with a tolerably smooth and regular
fracture, presenting surfaces well calculated for the kind of rude
sculpture here exhibited. The lines upon the horizontal faces of
the rocks are much less distinct than those upon their sides. They
seem nevertheless to have been cut deeper, and are more elaborate.
Those upon the vertical faces of the rocks seem to be little defaced,
and probably are much in the same condition in which they were left
by the sculptors. They are, for the most [p298] part, about three
fourths of an inch wide by half an inch deep, sometimes a little
wider and deeper: the outline of the principal figure on the large
rock is not less than an inch wide and three fourths of an inch deep.
Some of the round holes, which are very regular, will contain a gill
of water each. The lines, as observed respecting the rock first
noticed, do not appear to have been chiselled, but «pecked» into the
stone. Where hard iron seams occur in the rock, a narrow ridge is
left,—the rude instruments employed having evidently been inadequate
to cut or break through them. That some of the tracks of animals,
particularly those of the bear, were rubbed and smoothed with stones
after having been chipped into shape, seems extremely probable, from
the fact that they are not rough like the other lines, and exhibit
the muscular developments of the foot with much accuracy. It is
barely possible that they have been thus worn by the action of the

[Illustration: Fig. 206.]

Fig. 206. A rock of similar character with those above described,
occurs upon the Virginia shore of the Ohio river, four miles above
the town of Steubenville in the State of Ohio, and about fifty
miles below the city of Pittsburgh.[188] It is a detached block of
sandstone, measuring seven feet by nine. The figures are cut in the
same style with those before noticed, and are quite numerous. They
comprise outlines of men and animals, including the tortoise and
several serpents. There are also human footprints, and the tracks of
animals, together with other emblematic figures, including the Indian
symbol of the sun. The striking resemblance of the lower right-hand
figures to those occupying a corresponding position on the Dighton
rock, will not be overlooked.


A very interesting rock of this description lately existed at
Catlettsburgh, on the Kentucky shore, at the confluence of the Big
Sandy and Ohio rivers. It was [p299] entirely broken up about two
years since, by a Vandal, to furnish the materials for building a
chimney and walling a cellar! By a strange fatality this rock was
selected for the purpose, although there were an abundance of others
in the vicinity. It is represented to have been charged with numerous
outline figures and emblematic devices. Efforts were made to recover
some of the inscribed fragments, but without success. Nearly opposite
this place, on the Ohio side, three miles below the village of
Burlington, at a point where the Ohio sweeps along the base of the
sandstone cliffs, and where numerous fallen blocks line the shore, a
similar inscribed rock once existed. It however has lately shared the
fate of its neighbor on the other side of the stream. It was situated
below the high-water mark; and its proximity to the water proved, in
the end, the cause of its destruction, as the fragments quarried off
could be easily placed on floats for transportation to the points
required. Still another is said to have existed near the edge of
the water, at a place known as the Hanging Rock, now the site of a
furnace village, twenty-four miles above the mouth of the Scioto.
It has probably been destroyed in like manner. There is however a
very singular one still in existence a few miles above the town of
Portsmouth, the southern terminus of the Ohio and Erie Canal, at the
mouth of the Scioto. It consists of a colossal human [p300] head cut
in outline, upon the vertical face of a large rock extending into the
river. It is always under water, except when the river is at its very
lowest stages, and is not exposed oftener than once in four or five
years. It is familiarly known as the “Indian’s Head,” and is regarded
as a sort of river gauge or meter. When the water-line is at the top
of the head, the river is considered very low.

Numerous other rocks of similar character are scattered over the
West, occurring chiefly upon or near the banks of streams. They
are not however confined to the westward of the Alleghanies, but
are found in several of the Atlantic States. Those at Dighton and
Tiverton in Massachusetts, and at Portsmouth in Rhode Island, are
well known examples. They do not seem to differ materially in
character from those already described.

From an inspection and comparison of these rocks, it must be very
apparent that they are all the work of the same race: there is a
family likeness in their style and workmanship, and a coincidence
in position, which admits of no dispute, and seems to be conclusive
upon this point. The further well known fact that the Indians
possessed a system of representation, not inappropriately termed
«picture-writing», by which they conveyed intelligence and recorded
events, serves still more clearly to indicate their probable
origin,—especially as it is equally well known that they carved their
rude pictures upon rocks as well as upon the bark of trees.


[188] These rocks are noticed by Dr. BARTON, «Transactions of
American Philosophical Society», vol. iv. p. 195. He regards them as
“the work of a people acquainted with the use of iron instruments, or
with hardened metallic instruments of some kind.” The engraving in
the text is from a sketch made for Mr. McBride, by J. W. Erwin, Esq.



With the facts presented in the foregoing chapters before him, the
reader will be able to deduce his own conclusions, as to the probable
character and condition of the ancient population of the Mississippi
valley. That it was numerous and widely spread, is evident from the
number and magnitude of the ancient monuments, and the extensive
range of their occurrence. That it was essentially homogeneous, in
customs, habits, religion, and government, seems very well sustained
by the great uniformity which the ancient remains display, not only
as regards position and form, but in respect also to those minor
particulars, which, not less than more obvious and imposing features,
assist us in arriving at correct conclusions. This opinion can be
in no way affected, whether we assume that the ancient race was
at one time diffused over the entire valley, or that it migrated
slowly from one portion of it to the other, under the pressure of
hostile neighbors or the attractions of a more genial climate. The
differences which have already been pointed out between the monuments
of the several portions of the valley, of the northern, central, and
southern divisions, are not sufficiently marked to authorize the
belief that they were the works of separate nations. The features
common to all are elementary, and identify them as appertaining to
a single grand system, owing its origin to a family of men, moving
in the same general direction, acting under common impulses, and
influenced by similar causes.

Without undertaking to point out the affinities, or to indicate
the probable origin of the builders of the western monuments, and
the cause of their final disappearance,—inquiries of deep interest
and vast importance in an archæological and ethnological point of
view, and in which it is believed the foregoing chapters may greatly
assist,—we may venture to suggest that the facts thus far collected
point to a connection more or less intimate between the race of the
mounds and the semi-civilized nations which formerly had their seats
among the sierras of Mexico, upon the plains of Central America
and Peru, and who erected the imposing structures which from their
number, vastness, and mysterious significance, invest the central
portions of the continent with an interest not less absorbing than
that which attaches to the valley of the Nile. These nations alone,
of all those found in possession of the continent by the European
discoverers, were essentially stationary and agricultural in their
habits,—conditions indispensable to large population, to fixedness
of institutions, and to any considerable advance in the economical
or ennobling arts. That the mound-builders, although perhaps in a
less degree, were also stationary and agricultural, clearly appears
from a variety of facts and [p302] circumstances, most of which
will no doubt recur to the mind of the reader, but which will bear
recapitulation here.

It may safely be claimed, and will be admitted without dispute,
that a large local population can only exist under an agricultural
system. Dense commercial and manufacturing communities, the apparent
exceptions to the remark, are themselves the offspring of a large
agricultural population, with which nearly or remotely they are
connected, and upon which they are dependent. Now it is evident that
works of art, so numerous and vast as we have seen those of the
Mississippi valley to be, could only have been erected by a numerous
people,—and especially must we regard as numerous the population
capable of constructing them, when we reflect how imperfect at the
best must have been the artificial aids at their command, as compared
with those of the present age. Implements of wood, stone, and copper,
could hardly have proved very efficient auxiliaries to the builders,
who must have depended mainly upon their own bare hands and weak
powers of transportation, for excavating and collecting together the
twenty millions of cubic feet of material which make up the solid
contents of the great mound at Cahokia alone.

But the conclusion that the ancient population was exceedingly
dense, follows not less from the capability which they possessed to
erect, than from the circumstance that they required, works of the
magnitude we have seen, to protect them in danger, or to indicate
in a sufficiently imposing form their superstitious zeal, and their
respect for the dead. As observed by an eminent archæologist, whose
opinions upon this and collateral subjects are entitled to a weight
second to those of no other author, “it is impossible that the
population, for whose protection such extensive works were necessary,
and which was able to defend them, should not have been eminently
agricultural.” The same author elsewhere observes, of the great mound
at Grave creek, that “it indicates not only a dense agricultural
population, but also a state of society essentially different from
that of the modern race of Indians north of the tropic. There is not,
and there was not in the sixteenth century, a single tribe of Indians
(north of the semi-civilized nations) between the Atlantic and the
Pacific, which had means of subsistence sufficient to enable them to
apply, for such purposes, the unproductive labor necessary for the
work; nor was there any in such a social state as to compel the labor
of the people to be thus applied.”[189] [p303]

Another evidence of the probable agricultural character of the
mound-builders, is furnished in the fact already several times
remarked, that these remains are almost entirely confined to the
fertile valleys of streams, or to productive alluvions bordering on
the lakes or on the Gulf of Mexico,—precisely the positions best
adapted for agricultural purposes, and capable of sustaining the
densest population, as also affording, in fish and game, the most
efficient secondary aids of support.

If the mound-builders were a numerous, stationary, and an
agricultural people, it follows of necessity that their customs,
laws, and religion, had assumed a fixed and well defined form,—a
result inseparable from that condition. The construction therefore of
permanent fortifications for protection against hostile neighbors,
and of vast and regular religious structures, under this hypothesis,
fell clearly within their capabilities.

The modes of warfare which they practised, so far as they can be
made out, and the probable state of the civil relations between them
and their neighbors, and among themselves, have been noticed in the
remarks on the Works of Defence, in a previous chapter. Little can,
at present, be added upon these points. [p304]

If we are not mistaken in assigning a religious origin to that large
portion of ancient monuments, which are clearly not defensive, nor
designed to perpetuate the memory of the dead, then the superstitions
of the ancient people must have exercised a controlling influence
upon their character. If, again, as from reason and analogy we
are warranted in supposing, many of these sacred structures are
symbolical in their forms and combinations, they indicate the
prevalence among their builders of religious beliefs and conceptions,
corresponding with those which prevailed among the early nations
of the other continent, and which in their elements seem to have
been common to all nations, far back in the traditional period,
before the dawn of written history. Their consideration under this
aspect involves a preliminary analysis of the religious belief of
the various aboriginal American families, an examination of their
mythologies and superstitious rites, and a comparison between them
and those of the primitive nations of the old world. It involves,
also, an attention to the sacred monuments of the eastern continent,
to the principles upon which they were constructed, and to the extent
to which a symbolical design is apparent in their combinations
and ornaments. But it is alike beyond the scope and design of
this work to go into these inquiries, which in themselves, from
their attractiveness and importance, deserve a full and separate
consideration. We may, however, be permitted to express the belief,
that researches in this department, philosophically conducted, must
lead to results of the highest value, and greatly aid in the solution
of the interesting problems connected with our aboriginal history.
For, in the words of a writer of distinction, “of all researches that
most effectually aid us to discover the origin of a nation or people,
whose history is unknown or deeply involved in the obscurity of
ancient times, none perhaps are attended with such important results,
as the analysis of their theological dogmas, and their religious
practices. In such matters mankind adhere with greatest tenacity,
and though both modified and corrupted in the revolutions of ages,
they still preserve features of their original construction, when
language, arts, sciences, and political establishments no longer
retain distinct lineaments of their ancient constitutions.”[190]

The antiquity of the ancient monuments of the Mississippi valley
has been made the subject of incidental remark in the foregoing
chapters. It will not be out of place here to allude once more to
some of the facts bearing upon this point. Of course no attempt to
fix their date accurately can, from the circumstances of the case,
be successful. The most that can be done is to arrive at approximate
results. The fact that none of the ancient monuments occur upon the
latest-formed terraces of the river valleys of Ohio, is one of much
importance in its bearings upon this question. If, as we are amply
warranted in believing, these terraces mark the degrees of subsidence
of the streams, one of the four which may be traced has been formed
since those streams have followed their present courses. There is
no good reason for supposing that the mound-builders would have
avoided building upon that terrace, while they erected their works
promiscuously upon all the others. [p305] And if they had built
upon it, some slight traces of their works would yet be visible,
however much influence we may assign to disturbing causes,—overflows,
and shifting channels. Assuming, then, that the lowest terrace,
on the Scioto river for example, has been formed since the era of
the mounds, we must next consider that the excavating power of the
Western rivers diminishes yearly, in proportion as they approximate
towards a general level. On the lower Mississippi,—where alone the
ancient monuments are sometimes invaded by the water,—the bed of the
stream is rising, from the deposition of the materials brought down
from the upper tributaries, where the excavating process is going
on. This excavating power, it is calculated, is in an inverse ratio
to the square of the depth, that is to say, diminishes as the square
of the depth increases. Taken to be approximately correct, this
rule establishes that the formation of the latest terrace, by the
operation of the same causes, must have occupied much more time than
the formation of any of the preceding three. Upon these premises, the
time, since the streams have flowed in their present courses, may be
divided into four periods, of different lengths,—of which the latest,
supposed to have elapsed since the race of the mounds flourished, is
much the longest.

The fact that the rivers, in shifting their channels, have in some
instances encroached upon the superior terraces, so as in part to
destroy works situated upon them, and afterwards receded to long
distances of a fourth or half a mile or upwards, is one which should
not be overlooked in this connection. (See pages 50, 60, and 89.)
In the case of the “High Bank Works,” Plate XVI, the recession has
been nearly three fourths of a mile, and the intervening terrace or
“bottom” was, at the period of the early settlement, covered with
a dense forest. This recession, and subsequent forest growth, must
of necessity have taken place since the river encroached upon the
ancient works here alluded to.

Without doing more than to allude to the circumstance of the
exceedingly decayed state of the skeletons found in the mounds,
(see page 168,) and to the amount of vegetable accumulations in
the ancient excavations, and around the ancient works, (see pages
55 and 90,) we pass to another fact, perhaps more important in its
bearing upon the question of the antiquity of these works than any
of those presented above. It is that they are covered with primitive
forests, in no way distinguishable from those which surround them,
in places where it is probable no clearings were ever made. Some
of the trees of these forests have a positive antiquity of from
six to eight hundred years (see pages 14 and 16). They are found
surrounded with the mouldering remains of others, undoubtedly of
equal original dimensions, but now fallen and almost incorporated
with the soil. Allow a reasonable time for the encroachment of the
forest, after the works were abandoned by their builders, and for
the period intervening between that event and the date of their
construction, and we are compelled to assign them no inconsiderable
antiquity. But, as already observed, the forests covering these works
correspond in all respects with the surrounding forests; the same
varieties of trees are found, in the same proportions, and they have
a like primitive aspect. This fact was remarked by the late President
HARRISON, and was put forward by him as one of [p306] the strongest
evidences of the high antiquity of these works. In an address before
the Historical Society of Ohio, he said:

“The process by which nature restores the forest to its original
state, after being once cleared, is extremely slow. The rich lands of
the West are, indeed, soon covered again, but the character of the
growth is entirely different, and continues so for a long period.
In several places upon the Ohio, and upon the farm which I occupy,
clearings were made in the first settlement of the country and
subsequently abandoned and suffered to grow up. Some of these new
forests are now sure of fifty years’ growth, but they have made so
little progress towards attaining the appearance of the immediately
contiguous forest, as to induce any man of reflection to determine
that at least ten times fifty years must elapse before their complete
assimilation can be effected. We find in the ancient works all that
variety of trees which give such unrivalled beauty to our forests,
in natural proportions. The first growth on the same kind of land,
once cleared and then abandoned to nature, on the contrary, is nearly
homogeneous, often stinted to one or two, at most three kinds of
timber. If the ground has been cultivated, the yellow locust will
thickly spring up; if not cultivated, the black and white walnut will
be the prevailing growth. * * * Of what immense age then must be
the works so often referred to, covered as they are by at least the
second growth, after the primitive forest state was regained?”

It is not undertaken to assign a period for the assimilation here
indicated to take place. It must unquestionably, however, be measured
by centuries.

In respect to the extent of territory occupied at one time, or at
successive periods, by the race of the mounds, so far as indicated by
the occurrence of their monuments, little need be said in addition to
the observations presented in the first chapter. It cannot, however,
have escaped notice, that the relics found in the mounds,—composed
of materials peculiar to places separated as widely as the ranges
of the Alleghanies on the east, and the Sierras of Mexico on the
west, the waters of the great lakes on the north, and those of the
Gulf of Mexico on the south,—denote the contemporaneous existence
of communication between these extremes. For we find, side by
side in the same mounds, native copper from Lake Superior, mica
from the Alleghanies, shells from the Gulf, and obsidian (perhaps
porphyry) from Mexico. This fact seems seriously to conflict with the
hypothesis of a migration, either northward or southward. Further
and more extended investigations and observations may, nevertheless,
serve satisfactorily to settle not only this, but other equally
interesting questions connected with the extinct race, whose name is
lost to tradition itself, and whose very existence is left to the
sole and silent attestation of the rude but often imposing monuments
which throng the valleys of the West.


[189] GALLATIN’S “Notes on the semi-civilized nations of Mexico,”
«Transactions of American Ethnological Society», vol. i. p. 207.

Mr. Gallatin, in the memoir here quoted, has discussed at
considerable length the question of the origin of agriculture among
the American nations. His views, altogether the most philosophical
of any hitherto presented on the subject, may not be without their
interest in this connection. It should be observed, at the outset,
that Mr. Gallatin is of the opinion, not only that agriculture on
this continent was of domestic origin, but also that it originated
between the tropics,—spreading thence in different directions to the
north and south. The evidence in support of the latter conclusion is
not presented in sufficient detail to enable us to judge how well
sustained it may be. If we admit its correctness, we must derive
the agriculture of the mound-builders from the south, and assign
that race chronologically a comparatively low date. This we are not
yet prepared to do; on the contrary, there are many facts going to
establish for the mound-builders very high antiquity, and tending to
the conclusion that the degree of civilization which they possessed
was attained by a course of development in the Mississippi valley.
It is not impossible that future investigations may show that the
agriculture and civilization of the Mexicans, Central Americans, and
Peruvians, had its origin among the builders of the ancient monuments
on the banks of the great Mississippi river,—the Nile and the Ganges
of North America.

“What was the first indispensable transition which withdrew a
certain portion of the aborigines of America from the barbarism and
ignorance in which all the other tribes are still found? That it was
the transition from the hunter to the agricultural state, no one
can doubt. It is true some of the tribes among whom agriculture was
introduced, are still savages; but not an instance exists in America
of a nation, either populous or to a certain extent civilized,
which is not agricultural. * * * * We are then led to inquire how
agriculture was introduced into America, and whether it was imported
or of domestic origin.

“We have here two leading facts, one positively ascertained, and the
other generally admitted by those who have inquired into the subject,
the importance of which has not, it seems to me, been adverted to.

“The first is that all those nutritious plants cultivated in the
other hemisphere, and which are usually distinguished by the name
of cereals (millet, rice, wheat, rye, barley, oats), were entirely
unknown to the Americans.

“The second is that maize, which was the great and almost sole
foundation of American agriculture, is exclusively of American
origin, and was not known in the other hemisphere till after the
discovery of America, in the fifteenth century.

“If these two facts be admitted, it necessarily follows that the
introduction of agriculture,—that first, difficult, and indispensable
preliminary step before any advance whatever can be made towards
civilization,—originated in America itself; that it was not imported
from abroad; and that it was the result of the natural progress from
barbarism to a more refined social state by the race of red men,
insulated, left to themselves, and without any aid or communication
from any foreign country. It is therefore highly important for
a correct view of the history of man, that the presumed fact of
maize being exclusively an American plant, should be thoroughly
investigated. * * * If a domestic origin is admitted, it is quite
natural that agriculture should have had its birth in the most genial
climate, and in the native country of the maize.”—«Transactions of
American Ethnological Society», vol. i. p. 192.

What climate more genial, and what soil better adapted to the
cultivation of maize, in its perfection, than those portions of the
Mississippi valley where the evidences of ancient civilization are
most abundant and imposing?

[190] MCCULLOH, «Philosophical and Antiquarian Researches», p. 225.


Original printed spelling and grammar are retained, with most
exceptions noted below. Small caps are changed to all capital
letters. Italics «look like this». Many illustrations have been moved
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Ditto marks—including text equivalents “Do.”, “Do”, or “do”—do
not work well in electronic books, except in special circumstances.
Therefore original ditto marks have generally been replaced with the
appropriate repeated text. Sometimes in tables, such as those on page
113, new column headings were inserted to replace ditto marks.

The original List of Plates was printed in very small type, and is
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«List of Plates» and «Plates Supplemental Data». Plates in the
original book had no captions. Herein, captions have been provided,
based upon comparison of the List of Plates with information
contained in the illustrations.

The original caption to Fig. 1 was printed with a footnote anchor,
on the same page with its footnote. In this edition, the text of the
footnote is moved into the caption, and the footnote was eliminated.
Fig. 194, on page 275 was handled similarly. Footnotes not anchored
in captions are renumbered and moved to the ends of chapters.

Page 32. Comma was added between “south” and “which”, in the sentence
“South of the bluff. . . the wall fronting the south which wall also
extends . . . wall.”

Page 37, Plate V. The List of Plates shows eight separate figures
as part of this plate, but only three, Nos. 1–3 were shown as part
of a plate. Plate V., Nos. 4–8 are evidently the same as Figs. 4–8,
pp 39–40. So these five illustrations are listed twice (perhaps
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Page 85. There were two identical footnote anchors, both pointing to
one footnote. In this edition, the footnote has been duplicated, and
the footnote anchors made independent.

Page 200. “One of them, now in the possession of a gentleman of
Hillsboro’, is of the . . .” is retained despite the odd single
quotation mark.

Page 240. The footnote begins: “Humboldt states that the «Guaynares»
of the Rio Caura . . .”, maybe. The spelling of «Guaynares» is

Page 280. The phrase “an open cut mas made” was changed to “an open
cut was made”.

Pages 291, 292. The two very large tables were printed full page.
They have been edited considerably and divided for this edition.

Page 300. Changed “river guage” to “river gauge”.

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