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the existence of many thousands of human skeletons. In Ohio, where the mounds bave been carefully examined, are found some of the most extensive and interesting that occur in the United States. At the mouth of the Muskingum, among a number of curious works, was a rectangular fort containing 40 acres, encircled by a wall of earth 10 feet high, and perforated with openings resembling gateways. In the mound near the fort were found the remains of a sword, which appeared to have been buried with its owner. Resting on the forehead were found three large copper bosses, plated with silver and attached to a leather buckler. Near the side of the body was a plate of silver, which had perhaps been the upper part of a copper scabbard, portions of which were filled with iron rust, doubtless the remains of a sword. A fort of similar
a construction and dimensions was found on Licking river, near Newark. Eight gateways pierced the walls, and were guarded by mounds directly opposite each on the inside of the work. At Circleville, on the Scioto, there were two forts in juxtaposition; the one an exact circle 60 rods in diameter, and the other a perfect square, 55 rods on each side. The circular fortification was surrounded by two walls, with an intervening ditch 20 feet in depth. On Paint creek, 15 miles west of Chillicothe, besides other extensive works, was discovered the remains of a walled town. It was built on the summit of a hill about 300 feet in altitude, and encompassed by a wall 10 feet in hight, made of stone in their natural state. The area thus inclosed contained 130 acres. On the south side of it there were found the remains of what appeared originally to have been a row of furnaces or smith-shops, about which cinders were found several feet in depth. In the bed of the creek, which washes the foot of the hill, were found wells which had been cut through solid rock. They were more than 3 feet in diameter at the top, neatly walled with jointed stones, and, at the time of discovery, covered over by circular stones. So numerous were works of this kind in Ohio it would require a large volume to speak of them in detail.
Along the Mississippi they reach their maximum size and contain some of the most interesting relics. The number of mounds found here at an early day were estimated at more than 3,000, the smallest of which were not less than 20 feet in hight, and 100 feet in diameter at the base. A large number of them were found in Illinois, but, unfortunately, most of those who have examined them were little qualified to furnish correct information respecting their real character. It is greatly to be regretted that the State has never ordered a survey of these works by persons qualified to do the subject justice. Many of the most interesting have been ruthlessly destroyed, but it is believed a sufficient number still remain to justify an examination. It may, however, be safely assumed, from what is already known respecting them, that they were substantially the same as those found in other parts of the United States.
One of the most singular earthworks in this State was found in the lead region on the top of a ridge near the east bank of the Sinsinawa creek. It resembled some huge animal, the head, ears, nose, legs and tail and general outline of which being as perfect'as if made by men versed in modern art. The ridge on which it was situated stands on the prairie, 300 yards wide, 100 feet in hight, and rounded on the top by a deep deposit of clay. Cen
trally, along the line of its summit and thrown up in the form of an embankment three feet high, extended the outline of a quadruped, measuring 250 feet from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail, and having a width of body at the center of 18 feet. The head was 35 feet in length, the ears 10, legs 60, and tail 75. The curvature in both the fore and hind legs was natural to an animal lying on its side. The general outline of the figure most nearly resembled the extinct animal known to geologists as the Megatherium. The question naturally arises, by whom and for what purpose was this earth figure raised. Some have conjectured that numbers of this now extinct animal lived and roamned over the prairies of Illinois when the mound builders first made their appear. ance in the upper part of the Mississippi Valley, and that their wonder and admiration, excited by the colossal dimensions of these huge creatures, found expression in the erection of this figure. The bones of some similar gigantic animals were exhumed on this stream about 3 miles from the same place.*
David Dale Owen, a celebrated western geologist, in his report to the land office in 1839, refers to a number of tigures, similar to the one above described, as existing in Wisconsin. He thinks they were connected with the totemic system of the Indians who formerly dwelt in this part of the country. When, for example a distinguished chief died, he infers that his clansmen raised over his body a mound resembling the animal which had been used as a symbol to designate his family.
Mr. Breckenridge, who examined the antiquities of the western country in 1817, speaking of the mounds in the American Bottom, says: “ The great number and the extremely large size of some of them may be regarded as furnishing, with other circumstances, evidence of their antiquity. I have sometimes been induced to think that at the period when they were constructed there was a population here as numerous as that which once animated the borders of the Nile or of the Euphrates or of Mexico. The most numerous as well as considerable of these remains are found in precisely those parts of the country where the traces of a numerous population might be looked for, namely, from the mouth of the Ohio, on the east side of the Mississippi, to the Illinois river, and on the west from the St. Francis to the Missouri. I am perfectly satisfied that cities similar to those of ancient Mexico, of several hundred thousand souls, have existed in this country.”
Says Mr. C. Atwater, the author of an able work on the antiquities of Ohio: “ Nearly opposite St. Louis there are traces of two such cities, in the distance of 5 miles. They were situated on the Cahokia, which crosses the American Bottom opposite St. Louis. One of the mounds is 800 yards in circumference at the base, and 100 feet in hight."
The following description of this mound, which is the largest in the United States, is condensed from an article in the Belleville Eagle: It is situated 64 miles northeast of St. Louis, and is commonly known as the Monk's mound, from the Monks of La Trappe having settled on and around it. It is an irregular oblong, extending north and south, and its shortest sides east and west. The top contains about 34 acres, and about half way down the sides is a terrace, extending the whole width of the mound, and sufficiently broad to afford sites for a number of spacious buildings. The present want of regularity is due to the action of the rains, which, during a long interval of time, has so changed its surface that the original design of its builders has been lost. A Mr. Hill, who lived on it, in making an excavation for an ice-house on the northwest part, found human bones and white pottery in large quantities. The bones, which crumbled to dust on being exposed to the air, were larger than common, and the teeth were double in front as well as behind. A well dug by Mr. Hill, whose dwelling was on the summit, passed through several strata of earth, and, it is said, the remains of weeds and grass were discovered between the layers, the color of which was still visible and bright as when they were first inhumed. The writer thinks this portion of the American Bottom might with propriety be called the city of mounds, for in less than a mile square there are 60 or 80 of every size and form, none of which are more than one-third as large as the Monk's mound. They extend in a westerly direction, five miles or more, along the Cahokia.
*Galena Jeffersonian, 1853.
Notwithstanding the authorities referred to above, recent observations render it highly probable that these mounds are portions of the original shore of the Mississippi, which, like islands, were not wholly washed away by its waters. Professor Worthen, our State Geologist, and others, think that the material of which they are composed, and its stratification, correspond exactly in these particulars with the opposite bluffs.
The greatest evidence of art which they exhibit is their form. The base of the large mound, before denudation changed it, had the form of a parallelogram, whose well defined right-angles could not have resulted from the action of water. Its terrace, and the same features which distinguished the mounds on the west side of the river at St. Louis, at Marietta, Portsmouth, Paint Creek and Circleville, Ohio, and large numbers of them in Mexico, are remarkable coincidences, if they are not works of art. It is well known that the ancients, instead of throwing up mounds, in some instances selected natural elevations and shaped them with terraces for sites of altars and temples, and this seems to have been the character of the mounds in the American Bottom. Though not originally intended for graves, they were subsequently used as such by the Indians, that their dead might be above the floods of the Mississippi.
But whatever may have been the nature of these, there is no doubt as to the artificial character of others in many localities. Pioneer evidence states that at an early date copper, and a great variety of other implements, exceeding in their workmanship the skill of the present Indians, were taken from the mounds of Southern Illinois. The existence of this metal in these earthworks refers them to the era of the mound builders, as the Indians are ignorant of the process of working it, and never used it in the manufacture of implements. The copper so frequently discovered in mounds in the United States doubtless came from the region of Lake Superior. Mines have been examined here extending over large areas, the working of which antedates all existing records or Indian traditions. Another of the many evidences of tribes, who must have inhabited this country at a remote period, was found a few years since at the Illinois Salines. Fragments of pot
tery, from 4 to 5 feet in diameter, were exhumed some 30 feet below the surface, and had evidently been used in the manufacture of salt by the mound builders, or some other ancient people, different from the present Indians. The artificial character of these works not being a controverted point, the inquiry arises who were their builders? The hypothesis that they were the ancestors of the Algonquin and other tribes found living in their midst, when first visited by Europeans, but illy accords with the evidence furnished by an examination of the facts. These curious relics are fragments of a history which point to a people different in physical structure from the red men, and greatly in advance of them in art and civilization. The latter in general are a tall, rather slender, straight-limbed people, while the former were short and thick set, had low foreheads, high cheek bones, and were remarkable for their large eyes and broad chins. Their limbs were short and stout, while their whole physique more closely resembled that of the German than any existing race. The remains of their art also indicated a people wholly distinct. From these tumuli have been taken silver, iron and copper implements, exhibiting in their construction a degree of skill greatly exceeding Indian ingenuity and workmanship. The large number of medals, bracelets, pipes, and other instruments made of copper, show that its use among them was much more extensive than that of the other metals. They may have possessed the lost art of hardening it, for cut stone is occasionally found in some of their works. The manufacture of earthenware was one of their most advanced arts; vessels made from calcareous breccia have been taken from their tombs, equal in quality to any now made in Italy from the same material. A considerable number of these were urns, containing bones, which appear to have been burnt before they were deposited in them. Mirrors, made of isinglas, were of frequent occurrence in the mounds. Many of them were large and elegant, and must have answered well the purpose for which they were intended. Could they speak, they would doubtless tell us that the primitive belles, whose charms they reflected, had the same fondness for personal decoration that distinguishes their sisters of the present day.
Their habitations must have been tents, structures of wood, or some other perishable material; otherwise their remains would have been numerous. The remains, however, of fire-places, hearths and chimneys, imbedded in the alluvial banks of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers, are frequently brought to light by the action of their waters. The Indians of these localities never erected such works; while their great depth below the surface, and its heavy growth of trees, is evidence that they were not made by Europeans, hence must be referred to the mound builders. Evidence of this kind might be multiplied indefinitely, but what has been said is deemed sufficient.
Not only had the mound builders made considerable progress in the arts, but they were not wholly wanting in scientific attainments. The lines of nearly all their works, where the situation would admit of it, conform to the four cardinal points. Had their authors no knowledge of astronomy, they could never have determined the points of the compass with such exactness as their works indicate. This noble science, which in modern times has given us such extended views of the universe, was among the first in the earlier ages to arrest the attention of mankind. The pastoral life of primitive times, when men dwelt in tents, or the open air, with the heavenly bodies in full view, was very favorable to the study of astronomy.
If the mound builders were not the ancestors of our Indians, who were they? The oblivion which has closed over them is so complete that only conjectures can be given in answer to the question. Those who do not believe in the common parentage of mankind contend that they were an indigenous race of the western hemisphere. Others, with more plausibility, think they came from the east, and imagine that they can see coincidences in the religion of the Hindoos and Southern Tartars and the supposed theology of the mound builders. An idol was found in a tomb near Nashville, consisting of three busts, representing a man in a state of nudity. On the head of each were carved the sacred fillet and cake with which, in ancient Greece, during sacrifices, the heads of the idol, the victim, and priest were bound. The Greeks are supposed to have borrowed these sacred appliances from the Persians, with whom they had frequent wars and an intimate maritime intercourse. Another idol, consisting of three heads united at the back, was taken from a tomb on the headwaters of the Cumberland river. Their features, which were expressive, exhibited in a striking manner the lineaments of the Tartar countenance. It has been further observed that wherever there was a group of mounds three of them were uniformly larger and more favorably situated than the rest. The triune character of these images and mounds are supposed to represent the three principal gods of the Hindoos, Brahmin, Vishnoo and Siva. This supposition has been farther strengthened by the discovery in many mounds of murex shells, which were sacred in the religion of the Hindoos, used as material in the construction of their idols, and as the musical instruments of their Tritons. In digging a well near Nashville, a clay vessel was found 20 feet below the surface. It was of a globose form, terminating at the top with a female head, the features of which were strongly marked and Asiatic. The crown of the head was covered with a cap of pyramidal form resembling the Asiatic headdress. The vessel was found sitting on a rock from under which issued a stream of water, and may have been used at the fountain in performing the ablutions enjoined by some of the oriental religions. Indeed, for this purpose the temples and altars of the Hindoos are always erected on the banks of some river, as the Ganges and other sacred streams, and the same practice was observed by the authors of the American tumuli.
From evidence of this kind it is inferred that this people came from Asia, and that their migrations, like those from Europe at the present day, were made at different times and from different countries.
They were no doubt idolators, and it has been conjectured that the sun was an object of adoration. The mounds were generally built in a situation affording a view of the rising sun. When inclosed with walls their gateways were toward the east. The caves in which they were occasionally found buried always opened in the same direction. Whenever a mound was partially inclosed by a semicircular pavement, it was on the east side. When bodies were buried in graves, as was frequently the case, they lay in an east