Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/76

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implements. The weakness of this argument has been well shown by Mr. Albert Mott in his very original but little known presidential address to the Literary and Philosophical Society of Liverpool in 1873. He maintains that "our most distant glimpses of the past are still of a world peopled as now with men both civilized and savage;" and "that we have often entirely misread the past by supposing that the outward signs of civilization must always be the same, and must be such as are found among ourselves." In support of this view he adduces a variety of striking facts and ingenious arguments, a few of which I will briefly summarize.

On one of the most remote islands of the Pacific—Easter Island—2,000 miles from South America, 2,000 from the Marquesas, and more than 1,000 from the Gambier Islands, are found hundreds of gigantic stone images, now mostly in ruins, often thirty or forty feet high, while some seem to have been much larger, the crowns on their heads cut out of a red stone, being sometimes ten feet in diameter, while even the head and neck of one are said to have been twenty feet high.[1] These once stood erect on extensive stone platforms, yet the island has only an area of about thirty square miles, or considerably less than Jersey. Now, as one of the smallest images eight feet high weighs four tons, the largest must weigh over a hundred tons if not much more; and the existence of such vast works implies a large population, abundance of food, and an established government. Yet how could these coexist in a mere speck of land wholly cut off from the rest of the world? Mr. Mott maintains that this necessarily implies the power of regular communication with larger islands or a continent, the arts of navigation, and a civilization much higher than now exists in any part of the Pacific. Very similar remains in other islands scattered widely over the Pacific add weight to this argument.

The next example is that of the ancient mounds and earthworks of the North American Continent, the bearing of which is even more significant. Over the greater part of the extensive Mississippi Valley four well-marked classes of these earthworks occur. Some are camps, or works of defense, situated on bluffs, promontories, or isolated hills; others are vast inclosures in the plains and lowlands, often of geometric forms, and having attached to them roadways or avenues often miles in length; a third are mounds corresponding to our tumuli, often seventy to ninety feet high, and some of them covering acres of ground; while a fourth group consist of representations of various animals modeled in relief on a gigantic scale, and occurring chiefly in an area somewhat to the northwest of the other classes, in the plains of Wisconsin.

The first class—the camps or fortified inclosures—resemble in general features the ancient camps of our own islands, but far surpass them in extent. Fort Hill, in Ohio, is surrounded by a wall and ditch

  1. Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, 1870, pp. 177, 178.