Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE AGE OF STONE, AND THE TROGLODYTES OF BRECKINRIDGE COUNTY,

KENTUCKY.

BY R. S. ROBERTSON, OF FORT WAYNE, IND.

The remains of the stone-age are abundant on both sides of the Ohio River, proving that its shores were occupied by a very large population long anterior to the advent of the whites.

My attention having been attracted to reports of human remains found , in a cavern or rock-shelter near Hardinsburgh, Ky., I visited the locality May 12, 1874, but was not early enough to forestall the vandalism nearly always displayed when such remains are discovered, and by which many valuable relics are destroyed, or scattered and lost. Nearly everything of value to the ethnologist had been dug out and carelessly destroyed, and out of thirty or more human skeletons of all sizes, from infants to adults, exhumed, I was informed that only one skull had been preserved, but as that is in the possession of Prof. N. S. Shaler, State geologist of Kentucky, we may expect to hear something of its characteristics.

Hardinsburgh, the county-seat of Breckinridge County, is eleren miles southeast of Cloverport, and in a hilly, broken country. About a mile and a half northeast of the town is a range of high bills, at the base of which runs Hardin's Creek, now nearly dry. These hills are capped by bigh limestone ledges, cut through in past ages by some powerful erosive agency, leaving the general course of the cliffs on an east and west line, but cut by lateral fissures and valleys. The rock has been so eroded as to leave overhanging shelters at several points, some of which are of considerable size. One, particularly, seems to have been occupied by man for a long period, and when it ceased to be used as a habitation, became the sepulchre of the remnant of its occupants, who were probably massacred and left in the ashes of their home, on the final extinction of their tribe. The cavern is open toward the south, the overhanging roof protecting the space below from any exposure to the elements from above, while immense masses of fallen rock make a wall from ten to twelve feet bigb, directly in front, between which and the rear wall of the cav. ern the deposit containing human remains was found. This deposit consists almost entirely of wood-ashes, so dry that clouds of dust arose wbile working in them, and we sank nearly to the knees at every step. The deposit is about eight by fifteen feet superficial measure, and was about seven feet in depth. In it, without order, were found thirty or more human skeletons, nearly all with a flat stone laid upon their heads. There were infants and adults promiscuously buried at various depths in the ashes, and at the bottom, on a layer of broken stones, some charred human remains were found. The bones had been thrown out and broken, so that none remained worthy of preservation ; but from a description of the skulls found, I should think they were of a marked dolicho-cephalic type, with flat, receding foreheads.

Mingled with these remains many flint and other stone implements and weapons were found, with a few fragments of rude pottery, such as is commonly met with all over the country. I could learn of no ornaments, except some shells of the common muscle, perforated for suspension. Two perforated stones, of the kind supposed to be weaving-shuttles or thread.gauges, bad been found, but carried away.

The polished and drilled ornamental stones found frequently in other localities seemed to be entirely absent here, indicating that these cavedwellers had not advanced beyond the strictly useful arts. I found in the ashes a number of arrow-heads, scrapers, and knives of dark flint, a stone hatchet, and a buckhorn handle for a poinard or knife, similar to the handles of some modern hunting-knives. These were all found in the • ashes which had not been disturbed. Quantities of ilint-chippings lie around, and a stone, on the surface of which are fourteen small circular depressions, disposed in two nearly parallel rows.

To the left of this large shelter, and under the continuation of the same roof, is another on a high shelf of rock, reached by climbing on the fallen rocks which form the front wall. It is large, but does not afford standing-room in more than half its area, but has been used, perhaps, as a sleeping-apartment, as the rocks by which you reach it are worn smooth.

Immediately in front is a steep descent of about one hundred and fifty feet to a brook, pow dry, and, at a corresponding elevation on the opposite side, is another high cliff, perpendicular on its northern and overbanging on its southern face. Here many chippings of flint, some arrow-beads, and a flint knife were found, as if it had been used, also, either as a dwelling or workshop. It is not so large or so well shel. tered as the other. My guide informed me of several other rock-shelters and of some stone-walled graves in the vicinity, which I had not time to visit. Although the flint used is easily worked, the articles found were all of ruder workmanship than those found at many other places.

In the road just outside of the town of Hardiusburgh I noticed a number of characters and figures cut in the surface of the flat rocks here exposed; some of them are partially obliterated by travel, but they still occupy a large space. As there are many smooth rock-surfaces exposed in the vicinity, and none other exhibited these marks, I had no hesitation in considering them to be the work of man, and afterward learned that it was called “ Indian Rock.” The tau, T, is frequently seen, while other marks are in the form of the Greek cross, with shorter arms above than below. Others, and these the most pumerous, were a combination of the latter with other lines, X X, and some other characters I cannot now describe, having lost the drawing I made at the time.

At Cloverport I spent some time on the river-bank searching for remains, and was rewarded by finding a number of flint weapons with many chips or flakes, and, on the boys of the neighborhood becoming

aware of the objects of search, they brought me large numbers, many of them of interesting shape and workmanship. The bank here is a long, gravelly slope up from the water, above which are successive steps or benches of clay, bounded by a perpendicular wall of clay. It is on the uppermost bench of clay that nearly all the specimens, finished and unfinished, and the chippings, are found. Those found below this point invariably appeared to have been washed down.

The boys assured me that they could take me to a point across on the Indiana shore where I could get a wheelbarrow-load, but as I had neither time nor wheelbarrow, I was forced to forego the proposed visit.

I have no doubt that thousands of specimens could be obtained by a visit to the landing -places on both sides of the river between Louisville and Evansville.

One specimen shown me, but which the owner refused to part with on account of some superstitious regard, considering it in the nature of a charm, was sixteen inches long and five broad, in shape nearly like a willow-leaf. It was a white, cherty limestone. I heard of a large stone pipe found two years ago, but after an active search where last seen no trace could be found of it. The children had been allowed to use it for a plaything, and it had thus been lost.

Returning to Louisville, during a stroll of perhaps a mile on the riverbank below the cement-works, and upon the same clay bench, I found several complete and many broken specimens of worked flints, and this where many people pass and repass every day.

On the whole, I conclude that the men of the stone-age who occupied the shores of the Ohio and dwelt in the caverns and rock-shelters of the interior, had not advanced to that stage of the arts which led men to give a beautiful finish to their weapons and to carve and perforate stones for ornament or for badges of authority, like the prehistoric men of many otber localities, but contented themselves with such implements and weapons as the necessities of their wild life required, without spending much time in giving artistic touches to their manufactured articles.

ANTIQUITIES OF ISLE ROYALE, LAKE SUPERIOR.

By A. C. Davis, OF DETROIT, Mich. I send you three photographic views of a mass of copper found in clearing some ancient mine-pits on Isle Royale, Lake Superior. The mass was found in the bottom of a pit sixteen and a half feet deep, and was completely detached from the surrounding rocks. All the wings have been beaten off by the ancient miner with his stone hammers—evi. dences of wbich can be seen all over its upper surface. The section it was taken from is 27, 66. north, range 35 west. The belt of rock in which it was found is of a sedimentary character, bigbly metamorphosed, from twenty to forty feet wide, and for a distance of two and a half miles has been completely worked over by the ancient miner. I have been mining for the last twenty-five years on Lake Superior, but I have never seen anything to compare with this locality for ancient work.

I am confident that, when this district is thoroughly mined, discor. eries will be made throwing more light than we now have on the character of the people who did this work.

In the depression in the outlying trap was found clean lake sand, and the rock thrown out of the pit first was thrown on the sand. There was no sign of vegetable mold between the rock and sand, but over all there was three and a half feet of made soil or decomposed vegetable matter. • In the pit there are tons of 'stone and stone-hammers, and a large quantity of ashes and charcoal.

In one I opened on a transverse vein on the same property, I found the scales of white-fish. At this pit the ancient miner had used large granite bowlders to hold up the hanging ground. These bowlders would weigh from 300 to 400 pounds, and were put in where the modern miner would place timber, to secure the ground. Nearly all the brands and tim. ber we found in the pits were roots and stumps. This, with the fact of their using these large stones for timber, leads me to think that the ancient miners had used up all the timber in their reach, and consequently could not prosecute mining further.

There is another peculiarity in the hammers found in these mines-I only found one that was grooved, while on the south shore of the lake I never saw a stone-hammer that was not grooved.

ANTIQUITIES OF TAZOO COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI.

By J. W. C. SMITH, OF BEnton, Miss.

There is a mound on the Yazoo River, twenty miles below Satartia, worthy of note. It is situated at the foot of a tall bluff, and near the river. At the base it is, perhaps, one hundred and fifty or two hundred feet in diameter, fifty feet high, and flat on top; some fifty or sixty feet across. It evidently is the burial-place of some noted chief, and must have required months to build it, and the nearness to a high bluff precludes the idea of its having been built to escape from water. There are several smaller mounds in the neighborhood. Perhaps some sci. entist at Vicksburgh will explore it for you on application,

Near Carthage, iu Leake County, Mississippi, there is a small branch in which are many articles resembling petrified terrapin or tortoise beads; and where at one time was found here the genital organs of a man, also in stone.

ANTIQUITIES OF TENNESSEE.

BY DR. DANIEL F. WRIGHT, OF CLARKSVILLE, TENN.

The locality in which the relics sent to the Smithsonian Institution bave been collected, has been known as the "Indian grave-yard” as far back as any of the present inhabitants can remember, and has been more or less noticed according to the condition of the superiucumbent soil as affected by successive inundations of the Cumberland. Thus, for many years prior to the present date, the graves from which these relics have been taken have been buried some eight or ten feet deep by the fluvial deposit, and have been forgotten by the present generation; but since the inundation of last spring, through some change in the current, the receding waters have produced a contrary effect, and washed the graves completely bare, leaving the skeletons only covered with the stone slabs placed over them at the time of burial. The location is about fifty: yards from the left bank of the river, and about three miles above Clarks.. ville.

The following considerations will, I think, be deemed conclusive as: evidences of its having been a permanent and rather populous settle-ment of some tribe :

Ist. The nature of the graves. These are elaborately constructed. It is impossible to say how deep they were at the time of excavation, on account of the shifting character of the soil above described ; but every grave has a slab of shale-stone at the bottom ; upon this the body lies, and additional slabs are placed at the head and feet, and on each side, all rising to the same level, which is rather more than high enough to. cover the body. Finally, on the top of the inclosure so formed a large horizontal slab is placed, completely covering the whole; the earth is. then thrown in, and the body thus left inclosed not only in a well-protected grave, but in a complete stone coffin. In one place (and only one). a peculiar arrangement of the graves is noticed. Five or six graves. are so placed together that all the heads are nearly in contact, while the feet radiate outward so as to mark out the circumference of a cir.. cle something over twelve feet in diameter. On the whole, I suppose that more than forty skeletons, each in its separate grave, have been. taken up since the last overflow.

2d. The evidences of manufactures habitually followed.—These are fint weapons and implements and pottery: Where the greater part of the flint-implements were found innumerable chips and flakes of flint were also observed, such as are struck off in the manufacture of flint articles; these are found in great abundance. In reference to the pottery, still stronger evidence of its being manufactured on the spot was discovered. We found an excavation of a circular form about six or eight feet in diameter, and four or five feet deep, which had been loosely filled with sand that was easily removed ; and in shoveling it

« AnteriorContinuar »