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ANCIENT FORT AND Buri AL-Ground.
Perry City, New York, January 25, 1864.
The remains of an ancient fort and burial-ground exist about one-half mile northwest of Waterburg, a small village in the town of Ulysses, Tompkins county, New York. When the country about here was unsettled, some sixty years ago, the remains of this monument of a former period was plainly to be seen. The fort (by which name it is called and generally known about here) was situated on a rise of ground some twenty-five or thirty feet above the level of a stream of water—Tanghanic creek—large enough, when the country was new, to run a saw-mill four or five months of the year, the creek forming the southeastern boundary of the lot. The “fort lot” contained eight or ten acres, perhaps, and around its eastern and northern sides an embankment was thrown up several feet in height. At this time it is not more than one foot, or near that; but, before it was ploughed, it was considerably higher than at present. At the northwest extremity of this embankment a ditch was dug at right angles to it. Around the outside of the embankment posts were set, which, perhaps, served the same or a similar purpose to that which our fence-posts do now. These posts were set into the ground to a depth of three feet, and judging from this we should be led to conclude that they extended above ground eight or ten feet. On the west side there were three rows of posts, but no embankment that could be discovered. But it is very probable that the ditch, of which I have before spoken, extends the whole length of the west side, though it can now be traced but a little way. At the northeast and southeast corners there were gate-posts set, where the gates were situated, which afforded egress and ingress to the camp. The southeast gate was calculated to afford a direct passage to the stream of water before mentioned, while the other one led directly to a burial-ground. On the southern and southeastern sides there is a bank fifteen or twenty feet in height, and pretty steep. Posts were here set part way down the bank so that a bridge might be formed over the bank for some purpose besides preventing any one from entering from that side. Mr. Jonathan Owen, (an aged farmer who resides near the fort.) from whom I have most of my information, thinks that the inhabitants of the enclosure had access to the creek by an underground passage. Let this be as it may, it is very evident, from the appearances around, that they guarded against enemies on all sides, thus showing that some other party or nation was hostile to them. About sixty years ago everything that I have described was distinctly visible. Parched Indian corn was seen in considerable quantities in various places. The corn, in fact, was burnt black, and everything else showed that the whole structure had been destroyed by fire. If it had rotted down or decomposed in the ordinary way, it is not probable that the wooden part of the fabric would have remained many years. The part of the posts that entered the ground had been burnt to charcoal. It is probable that large quantities of Indian corn which were put up for future use were destroyed by fire. Mr. Owen stated that, “after digging through about two inches of loose dirt,” he came to a bed of about the same thickness of bones, oyster, and clam shells, and a considerable uantity of earthenware. The bones were principally deer's bones. Below this was a bed of ashes of nearly the same thickness. The remains of their earthenware showed that they had made some progress in the arts. When the embankment around the northern and eastern sides was ploughed it was found to be composed of a loose mucky earth, very much resembling earth formed mostly from rotten wood. This led Mr. Owen to the conclusion
that the embankment was formed of logs covered with earth. Its being covered
with earth to some depth would prevent the logs from taking fire when the structure was destroyed in that way.
A part of the embankment extends into the woods on the north side, and on it are growing several trees, one of them a pine tree 34 feet in diameter. This tree has undoubtedly grown where it is since the embankment was made. The tree must be several centuries old. This, and in fact everything around it, testifies to the comparatively great antiquity of the fort. A few rods to the west of the enclosure, on a knoll, there were two burialgrounds, where the dead bodies of the inhabitants were deposited. Sixty years ago, according to my father, “a hundred graves could be counted in a row.” These burial-grounds were quite extensive, embracing not less than two or three acres. In a northeast direction, about fifteen rods from the fort, was another burial-ground. The northeast gate, as before mentioned, led directly to this one. This burial-ground contained at least half an acre. In all of them the bodies were as thickly deposited as they conveniently could be. The last burial-ground mentioned is still visible, it being in the woods; but the other two have been ploughed, so that they cannot be distinguished at present. In the one that is now distinguishable, I have assisted in digging out several graves. In some, bones were found; while in others, nothing of the kind were seen. Wherever there is a grave the earth is sunk a little. In the first one that was opened we found the thigh-bones, hip-bones, arm-bones, and various other smaller ones. A jaw-bone and several teeth were found, but no hair. We used nothing but our hands to throw out the earth with; otherwise, it is probable, we should have found more things. The earth was very loose, and it was, consequently, easily thrown out. The depth of the grave was about 33 feet. One grave, in which several bones were found, was under a root of the stump of a large pine tree. This tree was, perhaps, from three to six hundred years old, and it is probable that it has grown there since the grave was made. All things indicate that these people were buried in a sitting posture. The graves are very short, not being more than four feet in length. Also the jaw, hip, and thigh bones were all found together, just as they naturally would be if the body was buried in a sitting posture. Various little trinkets have been found on the “fort-lot” at different times. A great many arrow-points have been found there, made of the hardest flint stone. Stone hatchets, or axes, have also been found. Several years since, a neighbor, Mr. David Farrington, found a pipe there, probably used for smoking tobacco; the stem was not very long, but of a sufficient size to admit a wooden stem of any length; the pipe-bowl had the face of a frog formed on it. Within three miles of here there are three other similar forts to the one which
we have here described. DAVID TROWBRIDGE.
REMAINS OF AN ANCIENT TOWN IN MINNESOTA.
ITAscA, ANokA County, MINNEsotA,
DEAR SIR: Presuming that your Institution is the proper one with which to file a report of new discoveries, I take the privilege and pleasure to inform i. that indications are favorable to encourage the belief, that upwards of one hundred years ago there existed at the mouth of Crow river, where it empties into the Mississippi, 24 miles above the Falls of St. Anthony, a town comprising at least seven hundred inhabitants. I have commenced collecting the articles that have been found, with the intention of forwarding the same to you if you desire me to do so.
We presume that the village was destroyed by fire of an enemy, for these reasons: we find the outlines of the buildings forming ridges of earth, under which are ashes, indicating fire; we also find human bones near the surface, which leads to the belief that they were not buried.
As to proof of the age of these ruins, trees have been cut down having one hundred rings, which were growing inside of the piles of ashes.
That they were at least civilized, is shown by our finding the locality of a blacksmith's forge, where the cinders, bits of iron, &c., were plenty. Each house was furnished with a fireplace of stone, the foundations of which are easily found.
Among the articles I now have, though somewhat decayed, are knives, forks, a fish-hook, piece of china bowl, piece of looking-glass, very long and well made wrought nails, part of an iron hinge, part of a clay pipe, strips of copper, one knife of extra fine quality of steel—has the name of “Pelon” on the blade. If among your antiquities you have any cutlery bearing the same mark, it may perhaps assist us to ascertain the direction these ancient settlers came from.
If you deem this information of any value, and will give me any directions regarding further explorations and the manner in which you wish the articles sent you, I will, as soon as the frost in spring will permit, turn over the ashes in several more places, in hopes to find some record to add interest to the discovery.
Can you gather any information by examining a jaw-bone of a human skeleton / I have one I can send, found near the forge.
I remain yours, most respectfully, in haste,
P. S.—I am the oldest white settler, with one exception, in this neighborhood, having been here since January 1850, and have seen the forest cleared from the ground where these ruins are found, and the present little town of Dayton built up. Senator Ramsey will vouch for my being an old settler here.
ANCIENT ReLiCS in MISSOUri.
WAshingtoN, March 14, 1864.
MY DEAR SIR: I promised you some time ago a description of some ancient relics of pottery from the mounds of Missouri, but that promise has remained ji. up to this time. Accompanying this note are photographs of three vessels: . Front view of probably a priest, or some official personage, if we re. Profile view } gard the head-dress as a badge of office. . Back view . Profile view . A plain vessel without any ornamentation. hese vessels are about twelve inches in height and are composed of clay slightly burnt, and are without any glazing. The interior is hollow, and the orifice in two instances is at the side, and in the other at the top. The thickness of the crust is about one-fourth of an inch. I regard them as watercoolers; the texture being such as to retain water for a considerable time, and also to allow evaporation from the exterior surface. I think you will agree with me that the ancient sculptor exhibited considerable skill in moulding. The proportions of the features are not very grossly exaggerated, and he possessed sufficient skill to delineate the traits characteristic of his race. Those traits belong not to the North American Indians, but, I think, to the Peruvians. The fillet on the head I am disposed to think was made of cloth. I hand you specimens of ancient weaving, which I have heretofore described. (Wide Trans. Am. Asso., Albany meeting.) [1855?] These specimens were taken from mounds in Mississippi county, Missouri, by the late Sylvester Sexton, of Chicago, and are now in the possession of his
} of a captive, bound, perhaps, for immolation.
widow. From Mr. Stevens, who assisted in the exploration, I drew the following particulars:
There are several mounds scattered throughout this country, but the largest group, and that from which these relics were taken, is on section 6, township 24, range 17, extending over about ten acres of ground. The mounds vary from 10 to 30 feet in height, and many of them, on exploration, have yielded relics.
The most convenient point of approach is from Columbus, Kentucky, being about eight miles distant, and about seven miles from the battle-ground of BelIn Ont.
Yours, very truly,
MOUND IN Tennessee.
* . SALEM, MARIon County, OREGox, December 12, 1863.
SIR : We write on a subject of some though not of great moment. That subject is this: On a mound, in East Tennessee, on Lick creek, near its junction with the Nolechuckey, in Greene county, six miles north of Warrensburg. It is some twenty-five or more feet high, covers an area of half an acre or more, is cone-like or round, is quite steep, and flat on its apex. It is a made mound, is of loam, and in the bottom next the creek. There is an excavation near, showing, evidently, that the earth removed is that of which is formed the mound. This mound is full, so far as examined, of human bones and carbonized wood. The bones lay irregularly, and seem to have been thrown in promiscuously. We think this a cemetery, or burial of slain in battle. The skeletons are larger than our race; are yellow and firm and strong when disinterred, but soon crumble on exposure. The apex is flat and sunken in the centre. Our informant, Mr. Isaac W. Bewley, brother to the martyr, Anthony Bewley, dug down some three feet, on top, and came to a burnt, smooth surface, under which, in sinking, he found large pieces of charcoal and considerable ashes. Mr. Bewley's father settled, or rather bought the place, some fifty years ago. How long it had been settled before we are not informed. The cause of our informant digging down on its top was from mere curiosity. This mound has no name that we know of We have given you its location, hoping you may make known this, we think, important matter. The opening of this mound might lead to more than mere conjecture concerning a once enlightened race. The earth seems to have been dug and elevated for a tomb. This shows some advance in the race who did it. An excavation might reveal important facts. We think the mound should be cxamined. What has an examination of the lacustrian cities led to ? To important results to the archaeologist. And might not some good result from an exhumation of the remains in this mound 2 We think so, and therefore urge it.
We have written this for the cause of science—the light that may flow from an examination of this Lick creek mound, near the junction of Lick creek with the Nolechuckey.
And now another matter: We have here some relics of Indians, as stone mortars and pestles, arrow points, stone axes, stone scrapers, or knives, &c. Would these be of any use to the Smithsonian Institution? If so, please write me at your earliest opportunity.
There are mounds in this country, too, and if you desire it we will write you about them.
We are, &c., A. F. DANILSEN. Joseph Hex Ry,
Secretary Smithsonian Institution, Washington city, D. C.
PURPLE DYEING, ANCIENT AND MODERN.
TRANSLATED FOR THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION FROM THE GERMAN
PERIODICAL, “AUS DER NATUR," &c.
The idolatry of classical antiquity finds its chief antagonism in the natural sciences. It would be easy to show how many illusions, nestling in the heads of the admirers of the olden time, have been dispelled by modern chemistry alone; and, although our present purpose is to deal with two objects of subordinate importance, yet these also serve to show how very broad is the line of separation between our own times and the remote ages, to whose languages and ideas so much of the time and training of our youth are commonly devoted.
The colors of azure and purple were among the most highly priced as well as the most highly prized productions of antiquity. The former was sold for its weight in gold, and the latter was especially reserved for the noble and the powerful; its use was in some ages even forbidden to all beneath those of the highest rank on pain of death. Science and art have wrought here a striking: change; being no longer limited to the direct gifts of nature, we are able, from the most apparently unpromising raw material, to furnish for the use of the whole community what could then be but scantily produced for the ruling few The contrast is certainly suggestive.
As early as three hundred and fifteen years before the Christian era, Theophrastus drew a distinction between natural and artificial azure, the latter of which, he tells us, was manufactured in Egypt. It seems most probable, how-ever, that the terms natural and artificial indicate in this case only the greater or the less degree of care with which the color was prepared from the beautiful stone which we call Lapis lazuli, to which the ancients gave the name of sap.. phire. While in some cases the stone was merely reduced to a fine powder, in others, probably, the coloring matter was more carefully separated, as is done in our own day.
The Lapis lazuli, or sapphire, is found in the least accessible parts of Little. Bucharest, Thibet, China, and Siberia, in layers or strata of granite or limestone. Of old, as at the present day, it was polished and wrought as a gem, and it is. almost the only member of the large family of gems that has an intrinsic value. This distinction it owes to the fact that, in addition to its great beauty, it yields for the use of the painter one of his most beautiful colors, which, moreover, is unaffected by air or heat; that color is ultramarine.
As lately as the commencement of the present century, ultramarine, or azure blue, was not simply a fine powder of the gem, but the result of a long and troublesome process. The stone was first broken into small pieces, and even this first step in the process was no easy one, the stone being exceedingly hard. The pieces, of the size of a hazelnut, were cleaned by means of lukewarm water, then made red-hot, and afterwards slacked in a mixture of water and acetic acid. The cohesion of the particles is so great that this process must be repeated from six to ten times before the mineral can be transformed into a fine powder. It is afterwards rendered still finer by trituration with the muller stone of the painter, having been first mixed with water, honey, and dragon's blood, then treated with the ley of the ashes of the grapevine, and finally dried. The powder is next compounded into a mass with turpentine, rosin, wax, and linseed oil,