The Prehistoric World: or, Vanished Races
E. A. Allen

Part 6 out of 13

remains of the mound builders. They are not to be found
broadcast over the whole country. We recall, in this connection,
that the early civilization of the East arose in fertile river
valleys. This is found to be everywhere the case, so we are not
surprised to learn that the broad and fertile valley of the
Mississippi, with its numerous tributaries, was the territory
where these mysterious people reared their monuments and
developed their barbarian culture. Throughout the greater
portion of this area we find numerous evidences of a prolonged
occupation of the country. We are amazed at the number and
magnitude of the remains. Though this section has been under
cultivation for many years, and the plow has been remorselessly
driven over the ancient embankments, yet enough remain to excite
our curiosity and to amply repay investigation.

This portion of the United States seems to have been the home,
the seat of the mound building tribes. We can not expect to find
one type of remains scattered over this entire section of
country. Indeed, to judge from the difference of the remains,
they must have been the work of different people or tribes, who
were doubtless possessed of different degrees of culture.<3>
We will notice in our examination how these remains vary in
different sections of the country. But it is noticeable that
these remains become scarce and finally disappear as we go
north, east, and west from the great valley. Although they are
numerous in the Gulf States, yet they are not to be found,
except in a few cases, in States bordering on the Atlantic.<4>
Some wandering bands, perhaps colonies from the main body of the
people, established works on the Wateree River, in South
Carolina,<5> In the mountainous regions of North Carolina occur
mines of mica, which article was much prized by the mound
builders; and here also are to be found traces of their early
presence.<6> We do not know of any authentic remains in New
England States. In Western New York there exists a class of
remains which, though once supposed to be the work of these
people, are now generally considered as the remains of works
erected by the Indians,<7> and of a similar origin appears to
have been the singular fortification near Lake Winnipiseogee, in
New Hampshire.<8>

We have no record of their presence north of the great lakes.
Passing now to the western part of the valley, we do not find
definite traces of their presence in Texas. On this point,
however, some authors state the contrary, apparently basing
their views on a class of mounds mentioned by Prof. Forshey.<9>
But the very description given of these mounds, and the
statements as to the immense number of them,<10> seem to show
they are not the work of men.<11> We do not think the West, and
especially the North-west, has been carefully enough explored to
state where they begin. It is certain that the head waters of
the Mississippi and the Missouri were thickly settled with
tribes of this people, and some writers think that they spread
over the country by way of the Missouri Valley from the
North-west. Mr. Bancroft quotes from the writings of Mr. Dean,
to show the existence of mounds and inclosures on Vancouver
Island, and in British Columbia. And the statement is made that
a hundred miles north of Victoria there is a group of mounds
ranging from five to fifty yards in circumference, and from a
few feet to fifty feet in height.<12>

The inclosures, however, are described as being very similar to
those in Western New York, and are probably simply fortified
sites, common among rude people the world over, and such as were
often erected by Indians. The remains on the upper Missouri and
its tributaries are very numerous, and to judge from the brief
description given us of them, they must be very interesting.<13>
This section has, however, been too little explored to speak
with confidence of these works.

As showing how much care should be exercised in this matter, we
refer to the account given by Capt. Wilkes in his journal of the
United States exploring expedition. Speaking of the mounds on
the gravelly plains between the Columbia River and Puget Sound,
he tells us that the Butte Prairies are covered with small
mounds at regular distances asunder. Some of them are thirty
feet in diameter, six or seven feet above the level of the
ground, and many thousands in number. He opened some of them,
and found a pavement of round stones, and he thought he could
detect an arrangement of the mounds in groups of five, thus.

Illustration of arrangement of mounds.---------

It was his impression that they were the works of men, and had
been constructed successively and at intervals of several
years.<14> This observation of Capt. Wilkes is referred to by
many as evidence of the former existence of Mound Builders in
this section.

More careful research in recent times has established the fact
that these mounds were certainly not erected by human hands, and
no one else has been able to discover the supposed arrangement
in groups of five. The pavement of round stones is common to the
whole prairie.

But the greatest objection is the number of the mounds.
A population larger than could have found a living in the
country must have been required to erect them, unless we assume
that a great length of time was consumed in this work.
Some other explanation must be given for these mounds, as well
as for those mysterious ones mentioned by Prof. Forshey.
This cut gives us a fair idea of the scenery of this section and
the mounds.<15>

Illustration of Mound Prairie.-----------

Within the area we have thus defined are located the works of
the people we call the Mound Builders. What we wish to do is to
learn all about these vanished people. A great many scholars
have written about them, and large collections of the remains of
their handiwork have been made. There is, however, a great
diversity of opinion respecting the Mound Builders and their
culture. So we see we have a difficult subject to treat of.
In order to gain a clear understanding of it, we must describe
the remains more closely. About all we can learn of these people
is from a study of their monuments. We can not call to our aid
history or tradition, or rock-carved inscription, but must
resort to crumbling mounds, broken down embankments; study their
location, and observe their forms. To the studies in the field
we must add those in the cabinet, and examine the many objects
found in and above the mounds and earth-works, as well as the
skeletons of the builders of the works. Rightly used, we can
draw from these sources much valuable information of the people
whose council-fires blazed all along the beautiful valleys of
the Ohio and Mississippi rivers in times far removed from us.

Illustration of Mound and Circle.-----------

We will first speak of the simplest form of these works, the
ordinary conical mound. This is the one form found all over the
extensive area designated. They exist in great numbers on the
banks of the upper Missouri, as well as the river bottoms of the
South. This cut represents a very fine specimen of a mound, in
this instance surrounded by a circular embankment. We must not
forget that mounds are found all over the world. "They are
scattered over India, they dot the steppes of Siberia and the
vast region north of the Black Sea; they line the shores of the
Bosphorus and the Mediterranean; they are found in old
Scandinavia, and are singularly numerous in the
British Islands."<16>

The principle in human nature which leads to the erection of
mounds is living and active to-day. The shaft which surmounts
Bunker Hill is but a modern way of memorizing an event which in
earlier ages would have led to the erection of a mound, and the
polished monument which marks the resting place of some
distinguished man was raised for the same purpose as the mounds
heaped over the chiefs and warriors of another age. The feeling
which moves us to crown with steeples or spires our houses of
worship is evidently akin to that which induced older races to
erect a mound on which to place their temples, their idols, and
altars of sacrifice.

If mounds were the only works remaining of these ancient people,
we would not take so great an interest in them, and, as it is,
we are not to suppose that all the mounds are the works of those
people we call the Mound Builders. Recent investigation and
historical evidence unite in showing that some comparatively
recent Indian tribes formed and used mound structures.
Early explorers have left abundant testimony to show that in
many cases the Indians resorted to mound-burial. Thus, it seems
that it was the custom of the Iroquois every eighth or tenth
year, or whenever about to abandon a locality, to gather
together the bones of their dead and rear over them a mound.
To this custom, which was not confined to the Iroquois, are
doubtless to be ascribed the barrows and bone mounds which have
been found in such numbers in various parts of the country.<17>
Although it is well to bear these facts in mind, yet it is not
doubted that the larger number, and especially the more massive
ones, were erected by the same people who built the other
mysterious works, and so it is necessary that they be
carefully studied.

Illustration of Altar Mound.-------------------

In the valley of the Ohio there have been found a class of
mounds known as Altar Mounds. These, it should be stated, nearly
always occur in or near inclosures. This cut gives us a good
idea of mounds of this kind. Near the top is seen an instance of
what is called "intrusive" burial. After the mound was completed
it had been dug into and a body buried near the surface.
This burial was evidently later in time, and had no connection
with the purpose for which the mound was originally built.
We also notice in this mound the different layers of which it
was composed. These layers are of gravel, earth, and sand, the
latter being only a few inches thick. Mounds made in this manner
are called stratified mounds, and all altar mounds are probably
of this kind. The lines of stratification have been described as
curving so as to correspond with the shape of the mound, and
such we are told is the general rule.<18>

Illustration of Plan and Section of Altar.---------

The peculiar feature, however, is the altar at the bottom of the
mound, directly above the natural surface of the ground.
The small cut gives us a clear idea of the altar, the light
lines running around it showing the plan. These altars are
almost always composed of clay, though some of stone have been
discovered. They are of various shapes and sizes. We notice the
dish-shaped depression on the top of the altar. The clay of
which they are composed seems to have been moulded into shape
directly over the surface of the ground. Sometimes a layer of
sand was put down as a foundation. They are nearly always
thoroughly burned, the clay being baked hard, sometimes to the
depth of fifteen or twenty inches. This must have required
intense and long continued heat.

We are at once curious to know the object of this altar.
Within the basin-shaped depression are generally found all
manner of remains. Sometimes portions of bones, or fragments of
wood, arranged in regular order; pieces of pottery vessels, and
implements of copper and stone; spear-heads, arrow-heads, and
fragments of quartz and crystals of garnet. Pipes are a common
find, carved in miniature figures of animals, birds, and
reptiles. Two altar-mounds but recently examined near Cincinnati
had altars about four feet square that were loaded down
with ornaments.

One especially contained quantities of ornaments of stone,
copper, mica, shells, the canine-teeth of bears and other
animals, and thousands of pearls. They were nearly all
perforated, as if for suspension. Several of the copper
ornaments were covered with native silver which had been
hammered out into thin sheets and folded over the copper.
One small copper pendant seems to have been covered with a thin
sheet of hammered gold, as a small piece was still clinging to
it. This is the first example of finding native gold in the
mounds.<19> On this altar were also found masses of meteoric
iron, and ornaments of the same material. One piece of mica
showed the profile of a face.<20>

In all cases the articles found on the altars show the action of
fire. We seem justified, then, in supposing that after the altar
was formed, fires were lit on them, and into this fire were
thrown the various articles just enumerated. But what was all
this for? This will probably never he very clear to us, beyond
the fact that it was a religious rite. Portions of the human
skeleton have been found on these altars, and it has been
suggested that human victims were at times part of the
sacrifice; but as it is known that this people practised
cremation, it may be that the altars were sometimes used for
that purpose, the remains being afterwards gathered and
buried elsewhere.

After the offerings had been flung into the fire, while it was
yet glowing on the altar, earth or sand was heaped over them for
a few inches, then successive layers of earth and sand, or
ashes, clay, or gravel. Sometimes the altars were used several
different times, in which case a layer of clay several inches
thick was laid over the old altar. In one case three layers had
been burned in before the final addition of earth and sand were
heaped over it. These strange monuments of a by-gone people hint
to us of mysterious rites. We wish we had more positive
knowledge of the ceremonies they commemorated; but at present we
must rest satisfied with conjecture.

The next class of mounds are known as burial mounds, some of
which are stratified, and resemble the so-called altar mounds.
A mound explored in Butler County, Ohio, had in the center a
layer of clay an inch thick, which had been burned until it was
red. Underneath this was another layer of clay, beneath which
was found charcoal, burnt cloth, and charred bones. Mr. Foster
thinks that in this mound the body was placed on a rude altar,
fires were lit, and that while yet burning, clay was thrown over
it all, and that then fires were built all over the mound,
sufficient to burn the clay for an inch in thickness.<21>
We have also a description of a group of mounds explored near
the Mississippi River, in which there were evident signs of
cremation. At least in several mounds fires had been built close
above the bodies. But in cremation other victims may have been
burned to accompany the departed chiefs or warriors. In one
mound evidence of such a custom was observed.

In another mound the center was found to be a mass of burned
clay interspersed with calcined human bones. No less than ten or
fifteen bodies had been burned here. "They must have worshiped
some fierce ideal deity, and the ceremony must have been
considered of great importance to have required so many
victims." This may have been, however, nothing more than
simple cremation.<22>

Pidgeon has described mounds in Minnesota, in many respects like
the altar mounds. In one case he mentions there was an altar or
pavement of stone on the original surface of the ground, a few
feet above which was a layer of clay, showing the action of
fierce and long-continued fires. We furthermore are told that
cremation, especially of chiefs, was more or less common among
the Village Indians of North America, that similar usage was
observed among many of the tribes of Mexico, and that the Mayas,
of Yucatan, burnt the bodies of their lords, and built temples
over their remains. So it may be that the altar mounds are but
varieties of funeral mounds, the remains of the bodies burned
here being buried elsewhere.<23>

Illustration of Burial Mounds.-------------

The nations that celebrated their mysteries around these mounds
have long since departed; the altar fires long since burned low.
We are not sure that we understand their purport, but we are
certain they were regarded as of great importance, and we can
readily imagine that when the fires were lit on the altars,
gathering crowds stood round, and participated in the religious
observance, throwing into the fire their most valued ornaments,
in this manner paying their last respects to the departed chiefs
and great men of their tribe.

The true burial mounds are very numerous, an comprise by far the
larger number of mounds. They are to be found all over the Mound
Builders' territory, and are about the only class of remains
found in the prairie regions of the West. From the upper waters
of the Missouri and the great lakes on the north to the Gulf
States on the south, and from west of the Mississippi to the
Alleghenies of the East, in all this vast region they are the
prevailing class of remains, and occur by hundreds, and even
thousands, along the valleys. The mounds themselves are often
not very conspicuous; as a rule they are simply heaps of dirt
raised above the surface and rounded over, and from two or three
to fifteen or twenty feet high, although many are of much larger
size. They are seldom found on the lower, or recent river
terrace, but are common on the upper terrace, and are often
built upon the high bluffs bordering the streams, where a wide
stretch of country is exposed to view. Black-bird, an Omaha
chief, who died about the year 1800, desired to be buried on a
high bluff overlooking the Missouri, so that he might see the
boats passing up and down the river. Perhaps from a similar
superstitious wish the Mound Builders sometimes chose the sites
of their burial mounds where they could watch over their
country; or it may be that the monuments over the dead were
placed in such conspicuous positions that they might be readily
seen by the people.

The next cut represents an ordinary burial mound, which was
explored by tunneling in from one side. We notice there are no
different layers or stratifications in this case. In some cases,
at least, the building of such a mound occupied several years.
We can see where the dirt was thrown down in small quantities,
averaging about a peck, as if from a basket. In one case grass
had started to grow on the unfinished surface of the mound, to
be covered up by fresh dirt.<24>

Illustration of Burial Mounds.-------------------

In the majority of cases the mounds contain the remains of but
one individual, with various relics of a rude and barbarous
people. Where but one body was buried, the usual mode of
procedure seems to have been to first clear a space on the
surface of the ground; the body was then placed in the center of
this prepared place, and often a rude framework of timber was
placed around it, sometimes a stone chamber was built up.
Over this the mound was erected to the desired height.
This description would apply to nearly all of the many thousands
of burial mounds in the country.

In the cut a layer of charcoal is noticed near the top.
Nearly all mounds show evidence of the existence of fire during
some period of their construction. In some cases these fires
were fierce and long continued, as if the object had been to
cremate the body. It may have been a part of their religious
belief that it was necessary to keep fires blazing on the mound
for a short length of time to keep off evil spirits, or to
comfort the soul of the departed. Such at any rate was the
custom among some Indian tribes. We are told that among the
Iroquois, a "fire was built upon the grave at night to enable
the spirit to prepare its food."<25>

In some cases, many individuals were buried in the same mound.
These may be communal burials, such as we have already referred
to. Mounds of this kind have been examined near Nashville,
Tennessee. One mound alone was the burial place of over two
hundred persons. Pidgeon describes some triangular burial mounds
in Minnesota, differing in shape only from the ordinary circular
mounds that belong to this division. In general, burial mounds
are not very high, yet there are exceptions to this rule.

Illustration of Grave Creek Mound.-----------

This cut represents one of the largest of these mounds. It is
situated at the junction of Grave Creek and the Ohio River,
twelve miles below Wheeling, in West Virginia. It measures
seventy feet in height, and its base is nearly one thousand feet
in circumference. An excavation made from the top downward, and
from one side of the base to the center, disclosed the fact that
the mound contained two sepulchral chambers, one at the base and
one near the center of the mound. These chambers had been
constructed of logs, and covered with stone. The lower chamber
contained two skeletons, one of which is supposed to have been a
female. The upper chamber contained but one skeleton.
In addition to these, there were found a great number of shell
beads, ornaments of mica, and bracelets of copper.<26>

A moment's thought will show us what a great work such a mound
must have been for a people destitute of metallic tools and
domestic animals. The earth for its construction was probably
scraped up from the surface and brought thither in baskets.
A people capable of erecting such a monument as this, with only
such scanty means at their command, must have possessed those
qualities which would sooner or later have brought them

Another very interesting mound of this class once stood in the
city of St. Louis. The rapidly growing city demanded its removal
in 1869. It was an oblong mound, one hundred and fifty feet long
by thirty in height. In its removal it was shown that it
contained a burial chamber seventy-five feet long, from eight to
twelve feet wide, and from eight to ten feet high, in which
about thirty burials had taken place. The surface of the ground
had first been leveled, then the walls raised to the desired
height, made firm and solid, and plastered with clay.
Timbers formed the roof, over which the mound had been raised to
the desired height.

Illustration of Cross-section St. Louis Mound.--------

In process of time the roof decayed and fell in, thus giving a
sunken appearance to the top of the mound. This view is a cross
section of the mound as it was revealed by the workmen.
We notice where the roof has fallen in, and the outline of the
interior chamber. This burial chamber was perhaps an exact model
of the cabins in which the people lived. Can it be that this
mound was the final resting place of some renowned chief, and
that the other bodies were those of his attendants sent to
accompany him to the other world? This is perhaps as reasonable
a conjecture as any. Certain it is that this tumulus and that at
Grave Creek were fit pyramids for the Pharaohs of the New World.

It is not to be supposed that the mounds were the sole
cemeteries of the people who built them. Like the barrows of
Europe, they were probably erected only over the bodies of the
chiefs and priests, the wise men, and warriors of the tribe.
The amount of work required for the erection of a mound was
too great to provide one for every person. The greater number of
the dead were deposited elsewhere than in mounds, but it is
doubtful whether we can always distinguish the prehistoric
burial places from those of the later Indians. An ancient
cemetery, discovered near Madisonville, Ohio, proved to be a
most interesting find, as it was thought to be a burial place of
the Mound Builders,<27> but it seems there is strong doubt on
this point. One writer thinks this was a cemetery of the Erie
tribe of Indians, and not very ancient in date.<28>

In Tennessee are to be found numerous burial places known as the
stone-grave cemeteries. Stone graves of a similar character are
found in Kentucky, Ohio, and Missouri. These are as yet but few
facts which can be used as indicating that all the stone graves
are of one people. Many of these cemeteries are of great
antiquity, while similar stone graves are of quite recent date.
In some places the cemeteries cover very large areas.

Illustration of Terraced Mound.-------------

We have now to describe a class of mounds that are always
regarded with great interest, as a number of our scholars think
they see in them the connecting link between the remains in this
country and those of Mexico and the South. These are generally
known as "temple mounds," from the common impression that they
were sites of temples or public buildings. In general terms,
mounds of this class are distinguished by their large size and
regularity of form, and they always have a flat or level top.
On one side there is generally a graded way leading up to the
summit, in some instances several such methods of approach.
Sometimes the sides of the mound are terraced off into
separate stages.<29>

We have already noticed that different sections of country are
distinguished by different classes of mound remains. In the
present State of Ohio are found many altar mounds and
inclosures. In the West are large numbers of burial mounds, but
the so-called temple mounds are most numerous in the South.
At one place in Wisconsin is found a low embankment inclosing
four low mounds with leveled tops. But the resemblance between
these and the regular temple mounds is certainly slight. Only a
few instances of these flat-topped mounds are found in Ohio.
Of these the still existing "elevated squares" at Marietta are
good examples.

Illustration of Elevated Square, Marietta.-----------

This cut represents the mound preserved in the park at Marietta.
It is ten feet high, one hundred and eighty-eight feet long, by
one hundred and thirty-two feet wide. The platform on the top
has an area of about half an acre. Graded ways lead up on each
of the four sides. These grades are twenty-five feet wide, and
sixty feet long.<30>

As we approach the Gulf States, these platform mounds increase
in number. The best representative of this class, the most
stupendous example of mound builders' work in this country, is
situated in Illinois, not far from St. Louis. The mound and its
surroundings are so interesting that they deserve special
mention. One of the most fertile sections of Illinois is that
extending along the Mississippi from the Kaskaskia to the
Cahokia river, about eighty miles in length, and five in
breadth. Well watered, and not often overflowed by the
Mississippi, it is such a fertile and valuable tract that it has
received the name of the "Great American Bottom." It is well
known that the Mound Builders chose the most fertile spots for
their settlements, and it is therefore not surprising to find
the evidence that this was a thickly settled portion of their
territory. Mr. Breckenridge, writing in 1811, says: "The great
number of mounds, and the astonishing quantity of human bones,
everywhere dug up or found on the surface of the ground, with a
thousand other appearances, announces that this valley was at
one time filled with habitations and villages. The whole face of
the bluff, or hill, which bounds it on the east, appears to have
been a continuous burying ground."<31>

Mounds are numerous in this section. We learn that there are two
groups of mounds or pyramids, one about ten miles above the
Cahokia, and the other about the same distance below it, more
than one hundred and fifty in all. Speaking of the group above
the Cahokia, Mr. Breckenridge says: "I found myself in the midst
of a group of mounds mostly of a circular shape, and, at a
distance, resembling enormous hay-stacks scattered through a
meadow. One of the largest which I ascended was about two
hundred paces in circumference at the bottom, the form nearly
square, though it had evidently undergone considerable
alteration from the washing of rains. The top was level, with an
area sufficient to contain several hundred men." He represents
the view from the top of the mound to be a very extensive and
beautiful one. From this elevation he counted forty-five mounds
or pyramids, besides a great number of small artificial
elevations. This group was arranged in the form of a semicircle,
about a mile in extent, the open space being on the river.

Illustration of Cahokia Mound.--------------------

Three miles above occurs the group in which is found the famous
big mound.<32> This cut gives us a good idea of the mound as it
was in its perfect state. All accounts given of this mound vary.
From a cut of the model, as prepared by Dr. Patrick, the area of
the base is a trifle over fifteen acres.<33> The ascent was
probably on the south side of the mound, where the little
projection is seen. The first platform is reached at the height
of about fifty feet. This platform has an area of not far from
two and four-fifth acres. Large enough for quite a number of
houses, if such was the purpose for which this mound was
erected. The second platform is reached at about the height of
seventy-five feet, and contains about one and three-fourth
acres. The third platform is elevated ninety-six or ninety-seven
feet, while the last one is not far from one hundred feet above
the plain. The area of the last two is about three-fourths of an
acre each. The areas of all the platforms are not far from six
acres. We require to dwell on these facts a moment before we
realize what a stupendous piece of work this is. The base is
larger than that of the Great Pyramid,<34> and we must not lose
sight of the fact that the earth for its construction was
scraped up and brought thither without the aid of metallic tools
or beasts of burden, and yet the earth was obtained somewhere
and piled up over an area of fifteen acres in one place to a
height of one hundred feet, and even the lowest platform is
fifty feet above the plain. Some have suggested that it might be
partly a natural elevation. There seems to be, however, no good
reason for such suggestions.

What motive induced the people to expend so much labor on this
mound? It is not probable that this was a burial mound, though
it may ultimately prove to be so. The most probable supposition
is that the mound was erected so as to secure an elevated site,
perhaps for purpose of defense, as on these platforms there was
abundant room for a large village, and an elevation or height
has always been an important factor in defenses. In this
connection, Prof. Putnam has called our attention to a fact
which indicates that a very long time was occupied in the
construction of the mound, and further, that a numerous
population had utilized its platforms as house sites--that is,
that "everywhere in the gullies, and over the broken surface of
the mounds, mixed with the earth of which it is composed, are
quantities of broken vessels of clay, flint chips, arrow-heads,
charcoal, bones of animals, etc., apparently the refuse of a
numerous people." The majority of writers, however, think that
this elevated site, obtained as the result of so much labor, was
utilized for important public buildings, presumedly the temple
of their gods, and no one can help noticing the similarity
between this structure and those raised by the ancient Mexicans
for both religious purposes and town sites.

Mr. Foster thinks that "upon this platform was reared a
capacious temple, within whose walls the high-priests gathered
from different quarters at stated seasons, celebrated their
mystic rites, while the swarming multitudes below looked up with
mute adoration.<35> Mr. Breckenridge, whose writings we have
already referred to, at the time of his first visit, "everywhere
observed a great number of small elevations of earth, to the
height of a few feet, at regular distances apart, which appeared
to observe some order: near them pieces of flint and fragments
of earthen vessels." From this he concludes that here was a
populous town, and that this mound was a temple site. It is
doubtful whether we shall ever pierce the veil that lies between
us and this aboriginal structure. The pyramids of the Old World
have yielded up their secret, and we behold in them the tombs of
Egypt's kings. But this earthen pyramid on the western prairie
is more involved in mystery, and we do not know even its
builders. If the result of religious zeal, we may be sure that a
religion which exacted from its votaries the erection of such a
stupendous piece of work was one of great power.

As before remarked, "temple mounds" increase in numbers and
importance as we go south. "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.<36> We also learn that
they are often surrounded, or nearly so, with moats or ditches,
as if to fortify their location. Our next cut illustrates such
an arrangement--a circular wall of earth four feet high and two
thousand three hundred feet in circumference, incloses four
mounds, two of which are temple mounds. According to the late
Prof. Forshey, temple mounds abound in Louisiana. He described a
group situated in Catahoola County, in which the principal
mound has a base of more than an acre, a height of forty-two
feet, and the upper platform an area of nearly one-third of an
acre. The smaller mounds are arranged around this larger one.
This group is defended by an embankment. From this point for a
distance of twenty miles along the river, are scattered similar
groups of mounds; in all cases the smaller ones arranged around
the larger one, which is presumably the site of a temple.

Illustration of Temple Mounds inclosed in a Circle.------

A digression right here may not be devoid of interest. We are
not sure but that the dim, uncertain light of history falls on
the origin of this group of mounds. When the French first
commenced their settlement in the lower Mississippi Valley, the
Natchez Indians was the most powerful tribe in all that section.
In the course of time, wars ensued between them and the French,
and in the year 1730 they fled into Upper Louisiana, and settled
at the place where these mounds are now found. But the French
followed them a year or so afterwards, and nearly exterminated.
them. Some of our scholars think that they erected these
mounds.<37> The historian of that epoch simply says they had
"built a fort there." It is however questioned whether they had
time to build works of such magnitude. But they were both a
mound-building and a mound-using people, and we are not prepared
to say how long it would take them to do the work, until we know
the number engaged, methods employed, and other
considerations.<38> If they did not build these works, they
doubtless cleared them of trees and utilized them; and this
place was therefore the scene of the final downfall of the
Natchez--a people we have every reason to regard as intimately
connected with the prehistoric mound-building tribes.

The largest temple mound in the South is near Seltzertown,
Mississippi. Its base covers about six acres, and it rises forty
feet. This slope was ascended by means of a graded way.
The summit platform has an extent of nearly four acres. On this
platform three other mounds had been reared--one at each end,
and a third in the center. Recent investigation by the Bureau of
Ethnology have shown that the base of this mound is a natural
formation. Lumps of sun-dried, or partially burnt clay, used as
plastering on the houses of the Mound Builders, gave rise to a
sensational account of a wall of sun-dried bricks two feet
thick, supporting the mound on the northern side.<39> The famous
Messier Mound, in Georgia, is said to reach a height of
ninety-five feet. But a large part of this elevation is a
natural eminence; the artificial part is only a little over
fifty feet.

Illustration of Etowah Mound, Georgia.-----------

A work of unusual interest occurs on the Etowah River, Georgia.
This cut gives us a plan of the work. We notice, first of all,
the moat or ditch by which they fortified their position.
The ditch is still from five to twenty-five feet deep, and from
twenty to seventy-five feet wide. It connects directly with the
river at one end, but stops short at the other. It surrounds
nearly fifty acres of land. At two points we notice reservoirs,
each about an acre in size, and an average depth of not less
than twenty feet. At its upper end is an artificial pond.
This ditch, with its reservoirs and pond, is no slight work.
The large mound seen in the center of the space is one of the
largest of the temple mounds. Its shape is sufficiently shown in
the cut. The height of the mound is sixty-five feet. We call
especial attention to the series of terraces leading up the
south side of the mound. Graded ways afford means of access from
one terrace to the other. A pathway is also seen on the
eastern side.

To this group of works an interest attaches similar to that of
the group of works mentioned in Louisiana. We are not certain
but that we catch a glimpse of it while it was yet an inhabited
Indian town. This is contained in the brief accounts we have of
the wanderings of the unfortunate De Soto and his command. One
of the chroniclers of this expedition La Vega, describes one of
the towns where the weary Spaniards rested, and which we are
sure was somewhere in Northern Georgia, in such terms,
mentioning the graded way leading to the top, that Prof. Thomas,
who has spent some time in this investigation, thinks his
description can apply only to the mound under consideration.<40>
Whether this conclusion will be allowed to stand, remains to be
seen. But, if true, then the darkness which rests upon this
aboriginal structure lifts for a moment and we see around it a
populous Indian town, able to send five hundred warriors to
battle. The Spaniards marched on to sufferings and death, and
darkness again closed around the Etowah Mound. When the
Europeans next beheld it around it was the silent wilderness;
the warriors had departed; the trees of the forest
overspread it.

We have now described the principal mound structures, and shown
the different classes into which they are divided. But a large
class of mounds are found scattered all through the Mound
Builders' territory that were probably used as signal mounds.
Burial mounds were also often used for this purpose.<41>
This was because their location was always very favorable for
signal purposes. Signaling by fire is a very ancient custom.
The Indians on our western plains convey intelligence by this
means at the present day. Some tribes use such materials as will
cause different shades of smoke, using dried grass for the
lightest, pine leaves for the darkest, and a mixture for
intermediate purposes. They also vary the signal by letting the
smoke rise in an unbroken column, or cover the fire with a
blanket, so as to cause puffs of smoke. The evidence gathered
from the position of the mounds, and traces of fire on their
summit, is that the Mound Builders had a very extensive system
of signal mounds.

Illustration of Hill Mounds.---------------

To illustrate this system, we would state that the city of
Newark, Ohio, was the site of a very extensive settlement of the
Mound Builders. This settlement was in a valley, but on all the
surrounding hills were located signal mounds. And it is further
stated that lines of signal mounds can be traced from here as a
center to other and more distant points. The large mound at Mt.
Vernon, twenty miles to the north, was part of this system.
As the settlements of the Mound Builders were mostly in river
valleys, we would expect to find all along on the bluffs
fronting these valleys traces of signal mounds. In the Scioto
Valley, from Columbus to Chillicothe, a distance of about forty
miles, twenty mounds "may be selected, so placed in respect to
each other that it is believed, if the country was cleared of
forests, signals of fire might be transmitted in a few minutes
along the whole line." Some think the chain is much more
extensive than this, and that the whole Scioto Valley, from
Delaware County to Portsmouth, was so provided with mounds
that signals could be sent in a very few minutes the
whole distance.<42>

Illustration of Miamisburg Mound.----------

The valley of the Miami River was equally well provided with
signal mounds. This great mound, at Miamisburg, Ohio, rising to
the height of sixty-eight feet, was one of the chain by which
signals were transmitted along the valley. Not only was each
river valley thus provided, but there is evidence that
communication was established between different river systems,
so we can easily see how quickly the invasion of their country
by an enemy from any quarter would become known in widely
scattered sections. Immediately across the river from
Chillicothe, Ohio, on a hill nearly six hundred feet high, was
located a signal mound. A fire built upon it would be visible
twenty miles up the valley, and an equal distance down. It would
be also visible far down the valley of Paint Creek. Some think
that such a system of lofty observatories extended across the
whole State of Ohio, of Indiana, and Illinois, the Grave Creek
mound, on the east, the great mound at Cahokia, on the west, and
the works in Ohio filling up the line. We do not believe,
however, it is safe to draw such conclusions. It is doubtful
whether there was any very close connection between the tribes
in these several sections.

In the State of Wisconsin are found some of the most interesting
remains of the Mound Builders. They are so different from the
ordinary remains found elsewhere that we must admit that the
people who built them differed greatly from the tribes who built
the great temple mounds of the South, or the earthworks of Ohio.
The remains in Wisconsin are distinguished not by their great
size or height, but by their singular forms. Here the mound
building instincts of the people were expressed by heaping up
the earth in the shape of animals. What strange fancy it was
that led them to mould the figures on the bluffy banks of the
rivers and the high lands about the lakes of their country, we
shall perhaps never know. That they had some design in this
matter is, of course, evident, and if we would try and learn
their secret, we must address ourselves to a study of
the remains.

Effigy mounds are almost exclusively confined to the State of
Wisconsin. We, indeed, find effigy mounds in other sections, but
they are of rare occurrence.<43> They, however, show that the
same reasons, religious, or otherwise, exists in other
localities, while in the area covered by the southern portion of
the State of Wisconsin it found its greatest expression.
This cut affords us a fair idea of effigy mounds. Here are seen
two animals, one behind the other. On paper we can readily see
the resemblance. Stretched out on the ground, and of gigantic
proportions, the resemblance is not so marked, and some might
fail to notice it at first sight. Either of those figures is
over one hundred feet long, and about fifteen feet wide.
With few exceptions, effigy mounds are inconsiderable in height,
varying from one to four feet. These mounds have been carefully
studied of late years, and there is no doubt that in many
instances we can distinguish the animals represented.

Illustration of Effigy Mounds.------------------

We learn, then, that tribes formerly living in Wisconsin had the
custom of heaping up the earth in the shape of the various
animals peculiar to that section. But no effigies are found of
animals that have since become extinct, or of animals that are
to be found only in other lands.

Our next cut represents the famous elephant mound of Wisconsin,
on the strength of which a number of fair theories have been
given relating to the knowledge of the mastodon by the builders
of the mound, and its consequent antiquity. It now bears some
resemblance to an elephant, but we learn that the trunk was
probably produced by the washing of the banks and, from the
same cause, a projection above the head, supposed to represent
horns, has disappeared. Taking these facts into consideration,
it is quite as likely that it represented a buffalo.<44>
One writer even thinks he found a representation of a camel, but
the fact is, the more these effigy mounds are studied, the more
certain are we that they are representations of animals formerly
common in that region.

Illustration of Elephant Mound and Emblematic Mounds.--------

The manner in which they represented the various animals is full
of interest to us. It has been discovered that they worked on a
system. The last cut represents a group of three animals
discovered a few miles from the Blue Mounds in Dane County.
We notice at once a difference between the central animal, with
a tail, and the other two. It will also be observed that the
animals are represented in profile, with only two projections
for legs. They are never separated so that we can distinguish
the two front and the two hind feet. Animals so figured are the
bear, fox, wolf, panther, and others. Grazing animals, such as
the buffalo, elk, and deer, are represented with a projection
for horns. In the last cut the other two animals are buffaloes.
In various ways the particular kind of animal can nearly always
be distinguished.<45>

Illustration of Grazing Elks. Fox in the distance.------

The preceding cut represents two elks grazing, and a fox in the
distance. The long embankments of earth at one side are
considered by Mr. Peet as in the nature of game drives. But we
call attention to the expressiveness with which these figures
are delineated. What could be more natural than the quietly
grazing elks, with the suspicious prowling fox in the distance.
In the cut we also see two cross-shaped figures. This was their
method of representing birds, a projection on each side of a
central body denoting wings. These figures are often
very expressive.

Illustration of Eagle Mound.-----------------------

In this cut we have no difficulty in recognizing an eagle. It is
represented as soaring high in the air. On the bluffs above it
is a wolf effigy, and several conical and long mounds. In the
cut preceding this the eagle and the hawk are hovering over the
feeding elks, while in this cut a flock of hawks are watching
some buffaloes feeding in the distance. This group of effigies
was found on the banks of the Kickapoo River.

Illustration of Hawks and Buffaloes.------------

Our next cut represents a wild goose with a long neck and beak
followed by a duck with a short neck, flying towards the lake.

Illustrations of Goose and Duck.-----------

Water-loving animals, such as salamanders and turtles, are
represented in still another way, two projections on each side
of a central figure. The next following cut represents a turtle.
The tail was not always added. The salamander closely resembles
the turtle, but notice the difference in the body, and still
different is the cut of the musk-rat (see later). Fishes are
figured as a straight embankment of earth tapering to a point.

Illustration of Turtle.----------------

The same system that was observed in the location of signal
mounds is to be noticed in the arrangements of these groups of
effigy mounds. They are not alone. One group answers to another
on a distant hill, or is in plain view of another group in the
valley below. Distant groups were so related, each commanding a
wide extent of country, and thus group answers to group, and
mound to mound, for miles away, making a complete system
throughout the region.

Illustration of Salamander and Musk-rat.---------

We notice this as to the location of the mounds. When we examine
the mounds themselves we observe no little skill in the way they
represent the animals. They often impressed on them something
more than mere animal resemblances. "There are groups where the
attitudes are expressive of a varied action. Certain animals,
like the weasel or mink, being seen with a bird so near that,
apparently, it might be caught by a single spring; and still
others, like the wolf or wild-cat, are arranged head to head, as
if prepared for combat; and still others, like the squirrel or
coon, are in the more playful attitudes, sometimes apparently
chasing one another over hill or valley; and again situated
alone, as if they had just leaped from some tree, or drawn
themselves out of some den or hole."<46>

Illustration Man-shaped Mound.-------------------

Nor is the effigy of the human form wanting. It is found in
several localities throughout the State. This cut shows us one
such effigy. This was the beginning of a long train of animal
mounds, presumably representing bears, found near the Blue
Mounds, Wisconsin.<47> We can not observe that any more
importance was ascribed to the effigy of a human being than to
that of an animal.

In casting about for suitable explanation for the erection of
these animal mounds, we find ourselves lost in conjecture as to
the motive which induced these people to prepare these earthen
effigies. We may be sure that it was for some other reason than
for amusement, or to give exercise to an artistic feeling.
Only in very few instances do we detect any arrangements which
would imply that they were in the nature of defenses. In some
cases the effigies are so arranged as to form a sort of
inclosure, some portion of the figure being prolonged to an
unusual extent and thus inclosing a space that may have been
utilized for a village site. This group on the Wisconsin River
illustrates this point. Here the area thus partially inclosed,
is about an acre. It is a singular fact that these inclosures
are almost always triangular in shape.<48> But it is manifest
that a simple earth wall would serve for defense much better
than these forms. They probably were not burial mounds, as few
contain human remains, and it is not yet certain that these
remains were not intrusive burials.<49> It seems, therefore that
they must have been in some manner connected with the religious
life of the people.

Illustration of Emblematic Mound Inclosure.--------

If we examine the various groups scattered throughout the State,
this belief is strengthened. It is found, for instance, in
nearly every group, that some one effigy is the principal one,
and is placed in a commanding position, about which the other
forms are arranged. It is also thought that the same effigy is
the principal or ruling effigy over a wide district.
In illustration of this, it can be stated that in the
south-eastern part of the State the turtle is always the ruling
effigy. In any group of effigies it is the principal one.
It seems to watch over and protect the others. In subordination
to it are such forms as the lizard, hawk, and pigeon. Passing to
the North, the turtle is no longer the important figure. It is
replaced by the wolf, or wild-cat. This is now the principal
form, and if the turtle is sometimes present, it is of
less importance.

So marked is the fact we have just stated that Mr. Peet says,
"that sometimes this division assumes almost the character of a
river system, and thus we might trace what seems to be the
beginning in this country of that which prevailed on classic
soil and in Oriental regions--namely, river gods and tutelar
divinities of certain regions, each tribal divinity having its
own province, over which it ruled and on which it left its own
form or figure as the seal of its power and the emblem of
its worship."<50>

Looking for some explanation of this, we may find a key in the
known customs of various Indian tribes, and the lower races of
men. It is known that a tribe of Indians is divided into smaller
bands, which are called gens or clans. A gens may consist of
several hundred persons, but it is the unit of organization.
It takes the place of a family among civilized people.
These various bands are generally named after some animal.
In the beginning these names may have been of no special
significance, but in course of time each band would come to
regard themselves as descendants of the animal whose name they
bore. Hence the animal itself would be considered sacred in
their eyes, and its life would seldom be taken by members of
that gens.

The animal thus honored by the gens was, in the Indian dialect,
the totem of the clan. This organization and custom we find
running all through the Indian tribes. In many tribes the
Indians were wont to carve a figure of their totem on a piece of
slate, or even to carve a stone in the shape of the totem, which
carved or sculptured stone they wore as an ornament, or carried
as a charm to ward off evil and bring them good luck.<51>
We need only suppose that this system was very fully developed
among the Mound Builders of Wisconsin, to see what important
bearing it has on these effigy mounds.

A tribe located on one of the fertile river valleys of Wisconsin
was composed of various gens or clans. On some common point in
proximity to their villages, or some spot which commanded a wide
view of the surrounding country, each gens would rear an effigy
of its totem, the animal sacred to them. In every tribe some
gens would be the most powerful, or for some cause the most
respected, and its totem would be given in the largest effigy,
and would be placed in the most commanding position. In a
different locality some other tribe would be located, and some
other totem would be regarded as of the most importance.

In this light effigy-mounds are not mere representatives of
animal forms. They are picture-writings on a gigantic scale, and
are the source of much true history. They tell us of different
tribes, the clans which composed them, the religious beliefs,
and the ruling gens of the tribe. Contemplating them, we seem to
live again in the far-off past. The white man disappears; waving
forests claim their ancient domain, and the rivers, with a more
powerful current, roll in their olden channels. The animals
whose forms are imaged here, go trooping through the forest or
over the fertile bottom lands. The busy scenes of civilization
give place to the placid quiet of primeval times, and we seem to
see peaceful tribes of Mound Builders paying a rude veneration
to their effigy-gods, where now are churches of a more
soul-satisfying religion.

But there is still another point to be learned from an
examination of these ancient mounds. Not only are they totems of
the tribes, but they were looked on in some sense as being
guardian divinities, with power to protect the homes of the
tribe. This is learned by studying the location in which they
are placed. They occupy all points of observation. In other
parts of the Mound Builders' country, wherever we find
signal-mounds we find corresponding positions in Wisconsin
occupied by groups of effigy-mounds, or if one only is present,
it is always the one which, from the considerations we have
stated, was regarded as the ruling effigy of that section. It is
as if their builders placed them as sentinels to guard the
approaches to their homes, to give warning of the arrival of
hostile bands. This is further borne out by finding that mounds
placed in such positions frequently show evidence of the action
of intense fire, and so we conclude they were used as signal
stations also. So we need not doubt but that the region thus
watched over by these effigy-mounds, group answering to group
along the river banks, or in the valleys below, was at times lit
up by the signal fires at night; or the warning column of smoke
by day betokening the presence of dancer.<52>

Illustration of Bird Mound, surrounded by a Stone Circle.---

Before leaving the subject of effigy-mounds, we must refer to
some instances of their presence in other localities. This cut
is an eagle effigy discovered in Georgia. Only one other
instance, also occurring in Georgia, is known of effigy-mounds
in the South. Measured from tip to tip of the wings, the bird,
in this case, is one hundred and thirty-two feet. This structure
is composed of stones, and a singular feature is the surrounding
circle of stone.<53>

Illustration of Big Serpent Mound.-------------------

Several examples of effigy-mounds are found in Ohio. The most
notable one is that known as the Great Serpent Mound, in Adanis
County. We give an illustration of it. The entire surrounding
country is hilly. The effigy itself is situated on a tongue of
land formed by the junction of a ravine with the main branch of
Brush Creek, and rising to a height of about one hundred feet
above the creek. Its form is irregular on its surface, being
crescent-shaped, with the point resting to the north-west.
We give in a note some of the dimensions. The figure we give of
this important effigy is different from any heretofore
presented. We are indebted for the plan from which the drawing
was made to Rev. J. P. MacLean, of Hamilton, Ohio. Mr. MacLean
is a well-known writer on these topics. During the Summer of
1884, while in the employ of the Bureau of Ethnology, he visited
the place, taking with him a thoroughly competent surveyor, and
made a very careful plan of the work for the Bureau. All the
other figures published represent the oval as the end of the
works. Prof. Putnam, who visited the locality in 1883, noticed,
between the oval figure and the edge of the ledge, a slightly
raised, circular ridge of earth, from either side of which a
curved ridge extended towards the sides of the oval figure.
Mr. MacLean's researches and measurements have shown that the
ridges last spoken of are but part of what is either a distinct
figure or a very important portion of the original figure.
As figured, it certainly bears a very close resemblance to a
frog, and such Mr. MacLean concludes it to be.

There is both a similarity and a difference between this work
and those of Wisconsin. The fact that it occurs isolated, the
other effigies in Ohio being many miles away, shows that some
special purpose must have been subserved by it. There the great
numbers gave us a hint as to their purpose. In this case,
however, nearly all observers conclude that it was a religious
work. Mr. MacLean, after describing these three figures,
propounds this query: "Does the frog represent the creative, the
egg the passive, and the serpent the destructive power of
nature?" Not a few writers, though not acquainted with the
presence of the frog-shaped figure, have been struck with the
combination of the egg and the serpent, that plays such an
important part in the mythology of the Old World. We are told
that 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." "Wherever native religions have had
their scope, this symbol is sure to appear."<54>

Even the Indians have made use of this symbol. On Big Medicine
Butte, in Dakota Territory, near Pierre, is a train of stones
arranged in the form of a serpent, which is probably the work of
the Sioux Indians. Around about on the hill is the
burying-ground of their chiefs. This was to them sacred ground,
and no whites were allowed near. The stones are about the size
of a man's head, and are laid in two rows, from one to six feet
apart. The length in all is three hundred and fifty feet, and at
the tail, stones, to represent rattles, are rudely carved.
The eyes are formed by two big red bowlders. No grass was
allowed to grow between the two rows of stone.<55>

It seems reasonable to suppose that the few isolated effigy
mounds we have outside of Wisconsin were built to subserve a
different purpose than those in that State. Mr. Peet has made
some remarks on their probable use that seem to us to cover the
ground, and to do away with any necessity of supposing on the
part of its builders an acquaintance with Old World mythologies.
Nature worship is one of the earliest forms of worship.
The prominent features of a landscape would be regarded as
objects of worship. Thus, for example, the island of Mackinac
resembles in its outline the shape of a turtle; so the island
was regarded as sacred to the turtle, and offerings were made to
it. A bluff on the same island at a distance resembles a rabbit;
accordingly, it was called by that name, and offerings were made
to it. It is quite natural that the effigy-mound builders should
seek to perpetuate by effigy some of these early traditions.

In the case of the Big Serpent mound this point is worth
considering. The ridge on which it stands is not only in the
midst of a wild, rough region, but is so situated that it
commands a wide extent of country. In shape this tongue of land
is also peculiar. It is a narrow, projecting headland, and would
easily suggest the idea of a serpent or a lizard. "This, with
the inaccessibility of the spot, would produce a peculiar
feeling of awe, as if it were a great Manitou which resided
there; and so a sentiment of wonder and worship would gather
around the locality. This would naturally give rise to a
tradition, or would lead the people to revive some familiar
tradition and localize it."<56> The final step would be to make
an effigy.

It seems to us very hazardous to draw any conclusions as to the
religious beliefs of the Mound Builders from this effigy, or
combinations of effigies. It also seems to us reasonable to
suppose that but one figure was intended to be represented.
A very slight prolongation of the serpent's jaws and the limbs
of the frog would connect them, in which case we would have some
amphibious creature with an unduly extended tail, or perhaps a
lizard. We must remember that the whole figure has been plowed
over once or twice, so that we are not sure of the original
outlines. We can not tell why they should represent a portion of
the body as hollow, but neither can we tell why the head of the
supposed serpent should be represented as hollow. We do not find
any important earth-works near here. The hill on which it is
placed commands a very extensive view of the surrounding
country. Within the oval a pile of stones showed evidence of a
long-continued fire, which would indicate that this was also a
signal-mound. Prof. Putnam thinks it probable that there was a
burial place between it and the large conical mound not
far away.<57>

In the vicinity of Newark, Ohio, are two examples of effigy
mounds. This cut represents what is called the alligator mound,
but it is probably the effigy of a lizard. The position which
this mound occupies is significant. It is on the very brow of a
hill about two hundred feet high, which projects out into a
beautiful valley. The valley is not very wide. Directly across
was a fortified camp, in the valley below it was a circular
work, and a short distance below on another projecting headland
was a strongly fortified hill. The great works at Newark were
six miles down the valley, but were probably in plain view.
That it was perhaps a signal station, is shown by the presence
of traces of fire.

Illustration of Alligator Mound.------------

The length of this effigy is two hundred and five feet, the
breadth of the body at its widest part, twenty feet, average
height about four feet.<58> The effigy mounds of Wisconsin, and
the other few examples mentioned, are among the most interesting
objects of aboriginal work. Except in a few favored instances,
they are rapidly disappearing. To the leveling influence of time
is added the assistance of man, and our knowledge of them will
soon be confined to existing descriptions, unless something is
at once done to preserve them from destruction.
Interesting mementos of a vanished race, we turn from their
contemplation with a sigh of regret that, in spite of our
efforts, they are still so enwrapped in doubt.

Mounds and effigies by no means complete the description of
Mound Builders' remains. One of the most interesting and
mysterious class of works is now to be described.
Early travelers in Ohio came here and there upon embankments,
which were found to inclose tracts of land of various sizes.
It was noticed that the embankments were often of the form of
perfect circles, or squares, or sometimes octagons, and very
often combinations of these figures. It was further evident that
the builders sought level, fertile lands, along the various
river courses. They very seldom built them on undulating or
broken ground. Often have the very places where civilized man
has laid the foundation of his towns proved to be the sites of
these ancient works of the Mound Builders, and thus it has
happened that many of the most interesting works of antiquity
have been ruthlessly removed to make way for the crowded streets
and busy marts of our own times.

The larger number of inclosures are circular, often of a small
size. Where they occur separately they either have no gateway,
or but one. Sometimes the circles are of very large size,
surrounding many acres. Sometimes, though not very often, a
ditch was also dug inside the embankment. This last circumstance
is by many regarded as a strong proof that the primary object of
these circles was not for defense.<59> But an inclosure of this
kind, even with the ditch on the inside, if surmounted by a row
of pickets or palisades, would prove a strong position against
Indian foes armed with bow and arrow. The Mandans constructed
defenses of this kind around their villages.<60> As to the
original height of the walls, in the majority of cases it was
not very great, generally from three to seven feet.

It is estimated that in Ohio alone there are fifteen hundred
inclosures, but a large number of them have nothing especially
worthy of mention. Some, however, are on such a large scale that
they call from all more than a passing glance. In contemplating
them, we feel ourselves confronted by a mystery that we can not
explain. The ruins of the old world excite in us the liveliest
feeling of interest, but we know their object, their builders,
and their probable antiquity. The mazy ruins at Newark, and
other places in Ohio, also fill the mind with astonishment, but
in this case we are not certain of their antiquity, their
builders are unknown, and we can not conjecture with any degree
of certainty as to their use. Before so many uncertainties
imagination runs riot, and we are inclined to picture to
ourselves a scene of barbaric power and magnificence.

Illustration of High Bank Works.-------------------

One beautiful specimen of this work is found in this cut.
It occurs on the right bank of the Scioto river, five miles
below Chillicothe. Here we notice a combination of the octagon
and the circle. The areas of each are marked. The octagon is
nine hundred and fifty feet in diameter. and nearly regular in
shape. In 1846 its walls were eleven or twelve feet high, by
about fifty feet base. It will be noticed that there is a gate
at or near each angle of the octagon except one, and in front of
that angle was a pit, from which some of the earth to form the
walls was taken. Facing each gateway a mound was placed, as if
to guard the entrance.

The circle connected with the octagon is perfect in shape, and
is ten hundred and fifty feet in diameter. Its walls were only
about half the height of the octagon. We notice some other small
circular works in connection with the main work. In this case
the parallels are not very regular, and seem to be connected
with one or more circular works. In a work situated but a few
miles from the one here portrayed, the parallels extend in one
direction nearly half a mile, only one hundred and fifty feet
apart. They terminate on the edge of a terrace. The object of
such parallels is as yet unknown. In some cases, after extending
some distance, they simply inclosed a mound.

It is easy enough to describe this work and give its dimensions,
but who will tell us the object its builders had in mind?
The walls themselves would afford but slight protection and if
they were for defense, must have been surmounted with palisades.
Works that were undoubtedly in the nature of fortified camps,
are found in this same section, and one of the strongest was
located not more than twelve miles away; but such defensive
works differ very greatly in design from regular structures such
as we are now describing. A very eminent scholar, Mr. Morgan,
has advanced the theory that the walls were the foundations on
which communal houses, like the Pueblos of the West, were
erected.<61> But this is mere theory. All traces of such
habitations (if they ever existed) are gone, the usual
debris which would be sure to accumulate around
house-sites, is wanting, and the walls themselves seem unfit for
such purpose.<62>

They may have been embankments surrounding towns and cultivated
fields, but little has yet been found which can be cited as
proofs of residence within the area so inclosed. We should not
be surprised, however, if such would ultimately prove to be the
case, since we now know that the Mound Builders of Tennessee did
fortify their villages by means of embankments and ditches.<63>
A number of writers think that these regular inclosures were in
some way connected with the superstitions of the people.
In other words, that they were religious in character.
Mr. Squier remarks, "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
purpose of the mound, carried on in inclosures especially
dedicated to them."<64> Another late writer to whom we have
several times referred, tells us there is no doubt but what a
"religious view" was the controlling influence in the erection
of these works, and that they express a "complicated system of
symbolism," that we see in them evidence, of a most powerful and
wonderful religious system.<65> Still such assertions are easier
made than proven, and until we know somewhat the purpose for
which they were used, how are we to know whether they were
sacred or not?

Casting conjectures, for the moment, aside, let us learn what we
can from the works themselves. From their large extent they
could only be reared by the expenditure of great labor.
This implies some form of government sufficiently centralized
and powerful to control the labors of large bodies of men.
Moreover, they were sufficiently advanced to have some standard
of measurement and some way of measuring angles. The circle, it
will be remembered, is a true circle, and of a dimension
requiring considerable skill to lay out. The sides of the
octagon are equal, and the alternate angles coincident.

Every year the plow sinks deeper into these crumbling
embankments, and the leveling forces of cultivation are
continually at work, and the time is not far distant when the
curious traveler will with difficulty trace the ruins of what
was once, to the Mound Builders, a place of great importance.

Illustration of Square and Circle Embankment.-----------

The more usual combination was that of a square and a circle. An
example is given in this cut, which is a plan on a very small
scale, of works which formerly existed in Circleville.
One peculiar feature about this work was that a double wall
formed the circle, with a ditch between the two walls. In the
next cut we notice a peculiar combination of these two figures.
The square is inclosed within the circle. Whatever we may
ultimately decide as to the larger works, it would seem as if
this could only be explained as in the nature of a religious
work. We can see no reason for constructing a defensive work, or
inclosing a village, or erecting foundations for houses of such
a shape as this. They must have been in some way connected with
the superstitions of the people.

Illustration of Square inscribed in a Circle.--------

A peculiar feature is also noticed in reference to some of the
smaller circles in this section. The cut below illustrates it.
The circle has a ditch interior to the embankment, and also a
broad embankment of about the same height with the outer wall,
interior to the ditch, running about half-way around the circle.
A short distance from the circle was one of those elevated
squares, one hundred and twenty feet square at the base, and
nine feet high.<66> It may be that this square was the
foundation on which stood a temple, in which case the circle
might have been dedicated to religious purposes also.

Illustration of Circle and Ditch.------------

The great geometrical inclosures are especially numerous in the
Scioto Valley. All the works we have described were in the near
neighborhood of Chillicothe, and works as important as these are
scattered all up and down the valley. We must also recall how
well provided this valley was with signal mounds. All
indications point to the fact that here was the location of a
numerous people, ready to defend their homes whenever the
warning fires were lit. Although Mound Builders' works are
numerous in the valley of the two Miami Rivers, Cincinnati being
the site of an extensive settlement, yet they were not such
massive structures as those in the Scioto. This would seem to
indicate that these valleys were the seats of separate
tribes.<67> But this Eastern tribe must have occupied an
extensive territory, since works of the most complicated kind
are found at Newark.

All indications point to the fact that near this latter place
was a very important settlement of the Mound Builders.
Several fortified works exist a few miles up the valley;
signal-mounds are to be seen on all heights, commanding a wide
view, and the famous alligator mound is placed, as if with the
design of guarding the entrance to the valley. No verbal
description will give an idea of the works, so we refer at once
to the plan. This will give us a good idea of the works as they
were when the first white settlers gazed upon them. They have
nearly all been swept away by modern improvements, excepting the
two circular works and the octagon. Here and there fragments of
the other works can still be traced.

Illustration of Mound Builders' Works, Newark, Ohio.-------

Two forks of the Licking River unite near Newark; the bottom
between these rivers comprising several square miles, was
occupied by these ancient earth-works. By reference to the plan,
we see the works consisted of mounds of various sizes, parallel
walls, generally of a low elevation, small and low embankments,
in the form of small circles and half-circles. There are also
several large works consisting of a circle and octagon combined,
one large circle, and a parallelogram. "The circular structure
at 'E,' is undoubtedly one of the best preserved and most
imposing in the State. There are many inclosing larger areas,
but none more clearly defined. As this is now included in the
fair-grounds of Licking County, it is preserved from
destruction, and will remain a monument of aboriginal work long
after all traces of the others have disappeared. "At the
entrance, which is towards the east, the ends of the walls curve
outwards for a distance of a hundred feet, leaving a passage way
eighty feet wide between the deep ditches on either hand."
From this point the work, even now presents an impressive
appearance. The walls are twelve feet in perpendicular height,
and about fifty feet base. There is a ditch close around it on
the inside, seven feet deep by thirty-five feet wide. The area
inclosed is about thirty acres.

Illustration of Eagle Mound.--------------------

In the center is an effigy-mound, represented by this cut.
It represents a bird on the wing, and is called the Eagle Mound.
The long mound in the body of the bird has been opened, and it
was found to contain an altar, such as has been already
described. Was this a place of sacrifice, and did this wall
inclose a sacred area? Our question remains unanswered. We can
dig in the mounds, and wander over the embankments, but the
secret of the builders eludes us.

A mile to the north-west of the part of the work just described
are the Octagon and works in connection with it. The Octagon is
not quite regular, but the sides are very nearly equal. At each
angle is a gateway, interior and opposite to which is a mound,
as if to guard the opening. The cut gives a view of the Octagon,
looking in through one of these gateways. At present, however,
but a small portion is in the forest. Most of it is under
cultivation, but the work can still be easily traced, and is one
of the best preserved in the State. A portion of it, still in
the forest, presents the same appearance to-day as it did to the
first explorer. When a stranger for the first time wanders along
the embankment and ascends the mounds, he can not fail to
experience sensations akin to those of the traveler when he
comes upon the ruins of some Old World city. We wish that for a
brief space of time the curtain of the past would up-roll, and
let us view these works while yet their builders
flourished here.

Illustration of Gateway of Octagon.--------------

Connected with the Octagon by parallel walls three hundred feet
long and placed sixty feet apart, is the smaller circle, "F."
This is a true circle, and is upwards of half a mile in
circumference. A portion of it lying in the woods, still retains
its primitive form, but the larger part is now under
cultivation. There is no difficulty, however, in tracing its
entire length. The most interesting feature in connection with
this part of the work is immediately opposite the point of
entrance from the octagon, and is represented in our next cut.
At this point it seems as if the builders had started to make
parallel walls, but afterwards changed their design and threw
across the opening a large mound. From this mound a view of the
entire embankment could be obtained. It is called the
Observatory Mound. It has been so often dug into that it is now
really in ruins, but is still too steep to be plowed over.

Illustration of Observatory Mound, Newark Works.--------

It is scarcely necessary to describe the works further, except
to state that three lines of parallel embankments lead away from
the octagon. Those extending south have been traced for upwards
of two miles, and are gradually lost in the plain. It was the
opinion of Mr. Atwater, one of the earliest investigators, that
these lines connected with other works thirty miles away, in the
vicinity of Lancaster.<68> Small circles are numerous in
connection with these works. It has been suggested by several
that they mark the sites of circular dwellings. The larger ones,
indicated by the letter "G," are more pretentious. They have the
ditch and embankment, which we have already described.
Many interesting coincidents in dimensions will be perceived
between portions of this work and those described in the
Scioto valley.<69>

Although we have devoted considerable space to this branch of
the Mound Builders' work, we must still find space to describe
the works at Marietta, which possessed some singular features.
This cut gives us a correct plan of the works as they were when
in 1788 the first settlers arrived at the mouth of the Muskingum
to lay out their town. The growth of the beautiful town of
Marietta has completely destroyed these works, except the
elevated squares, A and B, the large mound and inclosing circle
at X, with a portion of the adjoining embankments, and a small
fragment of the parallel walls forming what has been called the
"Graded Way." The elevated squares are the finest examples of
"temple" mounds remaining in the Ohio Valley. The circle and
ditch with the conical mound inclosed is also a fine example of
that class of works. From the summit of the mound an extensive
view is to be had both up and down the Ohio.

Illustration of Works at Marietta, Ohio.-------------

The gateways of the smaller square were guarded by mounds, which
were wanting in the larger one. We would call especial attention
to the two embankments which led from the larger square towards
the river. They were six hundred and eighty feet long, and one
hundred and fifty feet apart.<70> Some have supposed these walls
were designed to furnish a covered way to the river. But as
Mr. Squier remarks, we would hardly expect the people to go to
the trouble of making such a wide avenue for this purpose, nor
one with such a regular grade. Besides, the walls did not reach
the river. The work seems to be simply a passage way, leading
from one terrace to the other, but why the builders should have
made such a massive work, we can not explain. It has been called
the "Sacred Way," and this name may possibly be applicable, but
it is only conjectural. Some twenty years ago these two massive
and beautiful embankments were still preserved, thanks to the
care of the early settlers, who planned a street to pass between
them, which was named the Via Sacra. These words still
remain on a corner signboard; but alas for sentiment! the banks,
so long revered, have been utilized for brick-working.

Illustration of Graded Way, Piketon, Ohio.------------

Several instances of these graded streets or ways have been
found in connection with the Mound Builders' works.
Sometimes they lead from one terrace to another, sometimes
directly to the water. One of the latter kind formerly existed
near Piqua, Ohio.<71> This cut is a view of a graded way near
Piketon, Ohio. In this case, though the difference in level
between the second and third terrace is but seventeen feet,
these ancient people laid out a graded ascent some ten hundred
and eighty feet long, by two hundred and ten feet average width.
The earth was thrown out on either side, forming embankments.
From the left hand embankments, passing up to the third terrace,
there could formerly be traced a low embankment running for
fifteen hundred feet, and connected with mounds and other walls
at its extremity.

Some have supposed that formerly the river flowed at the
extremity of this graded way, and a passage way to the water was
thus furnished. Squier says, in this connection: "It is
sufficient to observe that the river now flows 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 this suggestion, would be to admit an
almost immeasurable antiquity to the structure under
consideration." The casual observer would say that it was
intended to afford an ascent from one terrace to the other.
But as the height was only seventeen feet, we can not see why it
was so necessary to have a long passage way of easy grade from
one terrace to the other. It was evidently built in connection
with the obliterated works on the third terrace.
This interesting remain is now utilized as a turnpike, and the
passing traveler but little recks he is going over one of the
most ancient causeways in the land. It may be that ceremonious
processions, with stately tread, utilized this causeway in years
long since elapsed. Speculation, always an unsafe guide to
follow, is especially so in this case, and so we leave this
memento of a vanished people as much an enigma to us as to its
first explorers.

We have described but a few of the sacred inclosures of Ohio,
but enough have been given to give us a fair idea of all.
We wish now to call attention to another class of remains.
We have seen how the works we have been describing are lacking
in defensive qualities. This becomes more marked, when we learn
there are works, beyond a doubt, defensive in character, in
which advantage is taken of all circumstances which would render
the chosen retreat more secure. In the first place, strong
natural positions were selected. They chose for their purpose
bluffy headlands leading out into the river plain. A people
surrounded by enemies, or pressed by invaders, would naturally
turn their attention to such heights as places susceptible of
defense. Accordingly, it does not surprise us to find many
heights occupied by strong and complicated works. Generally the
approaches to them were rugged and steep on all but one or two
sides, and there they are guarded by walls of earth or stone.

A fine example of a fortified hill was discovered in Butler
County, Ohio, a few miles below the town of Hamilton. This hill
is the highest one in the immediate vicinity. By reference to
the figure, we see that on all sides, except towards the north,
the approach was steep and precipitous, almost inaccessible.

Illustration of Fortified Hill, Hamilton, Ohio.--------

The wall is not of regular shape. It runs around on the very
brow of the hill, except in one or two places, where it cuts
across a ridge. In 1843 this wall was still about five feet high
and thirty-five feet base. The earth and stone of which the wall
is made were evidently gathered up from the surface of the hill.
In some places holes had been excavated, probably for the double
purpose of securing materials for the wall, and providing
reservoirs for water against a time of need. There are but four
openings in the wall, and each is very carefully guarded.
The complicated walls guarding the main entrance to the north
are especially noticeable. There are no less than four inner
walls besides the crescent shaped embankment on the outside.
The signal mound was about five hundred feet to the north of the
main opening. The stones on the surface of the mound all show
the action of fire.

If we were uncertain of the uses of the other class of
inclosures, which have been named Sacred Inclosures, we have no
need to hesitate as to the character of this work. Every thing
in reference to it betokens that it was a defensive work.
The valley of the Big Miami, in which it occurs, was a favorite
resort of the Mound Builders. On the opposite side of the river,
to the south, was a square and an ellipse combined, and several
other large works were ranged along the river in the course of a
few miles. We need scarcely doubt that this was a citadel in
times of need, and that when warning columns of smoke or flaming
fires showed the approach of an enemy, the old and the sick, the
women and the children, fled hither for protection, while the
warriors went forth to battle for their homes.

We will call attention to but one more of these fortified hills,
but this is on a magnificent scale. It is known as Fort Ancient,
and is situated on the Little Miami River, about forty miles
east of Cincinnati. It was not only a fort, but was also a
fortified village site, and has some features about it which are
regarded as of a religious nature. The hill on which it stands
is in most places very steep towards the river. A ravine starts
from near the upper end on the eastern side, gradually deepening
towards the south, and finally turns abruptly towards the west
to the river. By this means nearly the whole work occupies the
summit of a detached hill, having in most places very steep
sides. To this naturally strong position fortifications were
added, consisting of an embankment of earth of unusual height,
which follows close around the very brow of the hill. This
embankment is still in a fine state of preservation, but is now
annually exposed to cultivation and the inroads of cattle, so
that it will not be long before it will be greatly changed if no
effort be made to preserve it.

Illustration of Fort Ancient, Little Miami River.-------

This wall is, of course, the highest in just those places where
the sides of the hill are less steep than usual. In some places
it still has a height of twenty feet. We notice the wall has
numerous breaks in it. Some of these are where it crosses the
ravines, leading down the sides of the hill. In a few cases the
embankment may still be traced to within a few feet of a
rivulet. Considerable discussion has ensued as to the origin and
use of these numerous gateways. Mr. Squier thinks that these
openings were occupied by timber work in the nature of
blockhouses which have long since decayed. Others, however,
think that the wall was originally entire except in a few
instances, and that the breaks now apparent were formed by
natural causes, such as water gathering in pools, and musk-rats
burrowing through the walls, and we are told that such an
opening was seen forming in the year 1847.<72> No regular ditch
exists inside the wall, the material apparently being obtained
from numerous dug holes.

It will be seen that the works could be naturally divided into
two parts, connected by the isthmus. More than one observer has
pointed out the resemblance in general outline of this work to a
map of North and South America, but of course the resemblance,
if any, is entirely accidental. Mr. Peet has called attention to
the resemblance which the walls of the lower inclosure bear to
two serpents, their heads being the mounds, which are separated
from the body by the opening which resembles a ring around the
neck. Their bodies are the walls, which, as they bend in and
out, and rise and fall, much resembles, he thinks, two massive
green serpents rolling along the summit of this high hill.
If any such resemblance occurs, we think it purely accidental.
In relation to the wall across the isthmus, it has been thought
to have been the means of defending one part of the work should
an enemy gain entrance to the other. It has also been supposed
that at first the fort was only built to the cross wall on the
isthmus, and afterwards the rest of the inclosure was added to
the work.

The total length of the embankment is about five miles, the area
enclosed about one hundred acres. For most of this distance the
grading of the walls resembles the heavy grading of a railroad
track. Only one who has personally examined the walls can
realize the amount of labor they represent for a people
destitute of metallic tools, beasts of burden, and other
facilities to construct it.

Now, what was the object of this work? We think it was not
simply a fort, but rather a fortified village. That it must have
required the work of a numerous body of people, is undoubted,
and if they lived elsewhere, where are the works denoting such a
fact? We would further suggest that, if this was the seat of a
tribe, each of the two divisions might have been the location of
a phratry of the tribe, by a phratry, meaning the subdivision of
a tribe. We would call especial attention to the two mounds seen
just outside of the walls at the upper end. From these mounds
two low parallel walls extended in a north-easterly direction
some thirteen hundred and fifty feet, their distant ends joining
around a small mound. As this mound was not well situated for
signal purposes, inasmuch as it did not command a very extensive
view, and as the embankments would afford very little
protection, unless provided with palisades, it seems as if the
most satisfactory explanation we have is that it was in the
nature of a religious work.

Mr. Hosea thinks he has found satisfactory evidence that between
these walls there was a paved street, as he discovered in one
place, about two feet below the present surface, a pavement of
flat stones.<73> From this, as a hint, he eloquently says:
"Imagination was not slow to conjure up the scene which was once
doubtless familiar to the dwellers at Fort Ancient. A train of
worshipers, led by priests clad in their sacred robes, and
bearing aloft the holy utensils, pass in the early morning, ere
yet the mists have risen in the valley below, along the gently
swelling ridge on which the ancient roadway lies. They near the
mound, and a solemn stillness succeeds their chanting songs; the
priests ascend the hill of sacrifice and prepare the sacred
fire. Now the first beams of the rising sun shoot up athwart the
ruddy sky, gilding the topmost boughs of the trees. The holy
flame is kindled, a curling wreath of smoke arises to greet the
coming god; the tremulous bush which was upon all nature breaks
into vocal joy, and songs of gladness bursts from the throats of
the waiting multitude as the glorious luminary arises in majesty
and beams upon his adoring people. A promise of renewed life and
happiness. Vain promise, since even his rays can not penetrate
the utter darkness which for ages has settled over this people."
Thus imagination suggests, and enthusiasm paints a scene, but,
from positive knowledge, we can neither affirm nor deny
its truth.

Most of the works of the Mound Builders are noticeable for their
solidity and massiveness. We see this illustrated in the great
walls of Fort Ancient. Some of our scholars think this is a
distinguishing feature of the Mound Builders' work.<74> It seems
to us that it is difficult to make this a distinguishing
feature, as we have no means of knowing how much "massiveness"
is required in a work to entitle it to be considered a work of
the Mound Builders. Should this distinction be established,
however, we have to notice that while in the western part of the
State of Ohio the Mound Builders' inclosures are more often of
the defensive sort, the type changes to the eastward, where, as
in the Scioto Valley, we find the so-called sacred inclosures in
larger numbers. In the State of Ohio, then, there were at least
two well defined types of works by the Mound Builders. But if we
split the Mound Builders up into tribes, where shall we draw the
line between them and our later Indians?

Illustration of Fortified Headland, Northern Ohio.------

Illustration of Inclosures, Northern Ohio.--------

Scattered through Ohio, but especially abundant in the northern
part of the State, is a class of works which has excited
considerable comment. This cut illustrates a work of this kind.
It was located near where Cleveland now stands. The defense
consists mainly in the location. The wall seems to have been
rather of a secondary affair. The hill was too steep to admit
approach to it except from the rear, where the double wall was
placed. With both of these works a ditch was dug outside the
wall. These works did not always consist simply of fortified
headlands. This cut is of a portion of the works formerly
existing near Norwalk, Ohio. The circular work, D, is shaped
much like the sacred inclosures, though not on so large a scale.
In the larger work, at B, we notice a truncated mound. The ditch
is on the outside of the circles. This cut is of a work formerly
on the banks of the Black River. Here we have a square
inclosure, defended by two embankments and a ditch.

Illustration of Square Inclosure, Northern Ohio.-------

This class of works was formerly common not only in Ohio and Western New York, but they were also to be observed in other sections of the country. They existed alike in the valley of the two Miami Rivers, and in that of the Scioto. They were also found throughout the South. Even Wisconsin, the home of the effigy Mound Builders, is not destitute of this class of remains. The peculiar interest attaching to them arises from the fact that in some places, at least, we have good reason to assign their construction to Indian tribes. Those of Western New York were very thoroughly studied by Mr. Squier. When he commenced his investigations, he was under the impression that he was dealing with the remains of a people very similar, at least, to those who built the massive works in the Ohio Valley and elsewhere, but he was led to the conviction that they were the works of the Iroquois Indians, and as further proof that such was the case, we are told that since the palisades that once inclosed places known to be villages of the Iroquois have disappeared, there is no difference to be observed between the
appearance of the ruins of such a village site and any of the
earthworks in Western New York. But we have just stated that the
remains last mentioned are identical with those found in
Northern Ohio, and indeed over a wide extent of country.
The conclusion seems to be, then, that one large class of works
in many points resembling Mound Builders' works, found widely
distributed throughout the Mississippi Valley, were really the
works of Indians.<75> But we are approaching a subject we do not
wish to discuss just yet. We simply point out that not all the
remains of prehistoric people in the Mississippi Valley are
referable to the Mound Builders.

We have tried to point out the more important works that are
ascribed to them. It must of necessity occur in a work of this
nature that the review should be very brief, yet we have touched
on the different classes of their works. But before leaving this
part of our field we must mention some anomalous works, and
refer to others which, if they can be relied on as works of the
same people, certainly imply a great advance on their part.

Our next cut is named by Mr. Pidgeon the "Sacrificial Pentagon."
Writing in 1850, he states, "This remarkable group . . . has
probably elicited more numerous conjectures as to its original
use than any other earth-work yet discovered in the valley of
the Mississippi. . . . It is situated on the west highlands of
the Kickapoo River, in Wisconsin."<76> Mr. Pidgeon claims to
have discovered two of these pentagons. We are not aware that
any one else has verified these discoveries, and it is difficult
to decide what value to give to his writings. He claims to have
made extensive researches around the head-waters of the
Mississippi as early as 1840, and there to have met an aged
Indian--the last of his tribe--who gave him many traditions as
to the mounds in that locality. Most of our scholars think his
writings of no account, whatever, and yet Mr. Conant says, "He
seems to have been a thoroughly conscientious and careful
observer, faithfully noting what he saw and beard."<77>

Illustration of Sacrificial Pentagon.-----------------

We will briefly describe a few of the earth-works he mentions,
notice their singular form, and give an outline of the
traditions in regard to them, leaving the reader to draw his own
conclusions. Of this work the outer circle is said to have been
twelve hundred feet in circumference, the walls being from three
to five feet in height; width on the ground from twelve to
sixteen feet. The walls of the pentagon were from four to six
feet high. The inner circle was of very slight elevation. The
central mound was thirty-six feet in diameter. This singular
arrangement of circle, pentagon, and mounds, is traditionally
represented to have been a sacred national altar--the most holy
one known to tradition--and no foot, save that of a priest,
might pass within the sacred walls of the pentagon after its
completion. The sacrifice offered on this altar was that of
human life. Twice each year the offering was made.<78>

The work represented in the figure below is stated to have been
in the near neighborhood of the former, and to have been
intimately connected with it. Mr. Pidgeon claims to have found
five of these circles and two pentagons. So far as we know, he
is the only authority for their occurrence, no one else having
been so fortunate as to have found them. This is surely a
singular work, and we can not fail to recognize in it a
representation of the sun and the moon. In excavating in the
central mound, we are assured that small pieces Of mica were
found abundantly mixed with the soil. "Had the surface-soil been
removed with care, and the stratum beneath been washed by a few
heavy showers of rain, so thoroughly studded was it with small
particles of mica, that under the sun's rays it certainly would
have presented no unapt symbolic representation of
that luminary."<79>

Illustration of Festival Circle.---------------------

Our next figure is another singular arrangement of
crescent-shaped works and mounds. Lapham says that
crescent-shaped works are found in Wisconsin. Pidgeon says that
crescent works are found in Illinois, but works arranged as
shown in this wood-cut he found in but four places in Wisconsin.
Could we verify this author's statements, this illustration and
the preceding one would be very good evidence of the prevalence
of sun-worship among the effigy Mound Builders of Wisconsin.
This would be nothing singular, since the Indian race almost
universally reverenced the sun.<80>

Illustration of Crescent Works.---------------------

The figure below represents a group of works which, we are told,
were of a class formerly abundant in Missouri and Iowa.
The embankments are stated to be of varying heights, but all of
the same length. They do not quite meet, but a mound defends the
opening. Sometimes a square is so represented, and sometimes but
two walls.

Illustration of Triangular Works.--------------

A singular statement is made in reference to a nice proportion
said to be observed between the heights of the embankments and
walls. In this case, for instance, the heights of the
embankments are, three, four, and five feet; the sum of these,
twelve feet, was the exact height of the central mound.
Furthermore, the square of the sum of the heights of three
embankments gives us one hundred and forty-four feet, which is
the length of the embankments. We are gravely assured that this
same nice proportion is always observed in works of this kind.
The embankments being always of equal length, but of varying
heights, still the sum of these heights, whether three or four
sides, being always equal to the height of the central
mound.<81> We do not know of any specimen of this class of works
now existing. If this early explorer's account be reliable, then
we have in works of this class very good evidence that some of
their inclosures were in the nature of sacred inclosures.
The trouble is to verify Mr. Pidgeon's account. There is a good
deal that is strange and marvelous in reference to the Mound
Builders, and we must use judgment as to what is told us, unless
we are sure there is no mistake, or unless the reports are
vouched for by many observers.

We wish to call attention to some singular works in Missouri,
which would imply that the Mound Builders were possessed of no
little engineering skill. We have every indication that near New
Madrid was a very extensive settlement. The works consist of
inclosures, large and small mounds in great numbers, and
countless residence sites. One of fifty acres was noticed, which
had evidently been inclosed by earthen walls. In some places in
the forest, where this wall had been preserved, its height was
found to be from three to five feet, and its base width fifteen
feet.<82> But the suggestive features about these works are
noticed along the edge of the swamp near which they stood.
This swamp in 1811 was a lake, with a clear, sandy bottom.
It is not at all doubted but that it was at one time the bed of
the Mississippi River, and probably this town stood on its
banks. The river is now some eighteen miles away. It must
suddenly have changed its course, leaving behind it a lake,
which, in course of time, became a swamp.

But along the shores of this ancient lake, "in front of the
inclosure, small tongues of land have been carried out into the
water, from fifteen to thirty feet in length, by ten, or fifteen
in width, with open spaces between, which, small as they are,
forcibly remind one of the wharfs of a seaport town. The cypress
trees grew very thickly in all the little bays thus formed, and
the irregular, yet methodical, outlines of the forest, winding
in and out close to the shore of these tongues of land, is so
marked as to remove all doubt as to their artificial origin.<83>
The suggestion is made in view of these wharfs, that the Mound
Builders must have had some sort of boats to navigate the waters
of the lake.

And the singular part is, that right in this neighborhood are
many evidences of a system of canals. A glance at the map will
show that the portion of Missouri around New Madrid, and to the
south of it, is dotted with swampy lakes and sluggish bayous.
The evidence is to the effect that the ancient inhabitants
connected these bayous and lakes with artificial canals, so as
to form quite an extended system of inland water-ways.
Right east of the town of Gayoso, we are told that a canal had
been dug that now connects the Mississippi with a lake called
Big Lake. A bayou running into this lake was joined by a canal
with Cushion Lake.

From this last lake, by means of bayous and lakes, a clear
course could be pursued for some miles north, where finally


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