Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/78

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form, on which are found deposited more or less abundant relics, all bearing traces of the action of fire. We are, therefore, only acquainted with such articles as are practically fire-proof. These consist of bone and copper implements and ornaments, disks, and tubes—pearl, shell, and silver beads, more or less injured by the fire—ornaments cut in mica, ornamental pottery, and numbers of elaborate carvings in stone, mostly forming pipes for smoking. The metallic articles are all formed by hammering, but the execution is very good; plates of mica are found cut into scrolls and circles; the pottery, of which very few remains have been found, is far superior to that of any of the Indian tribes, since Dr. Wilson is of opinion that they must have been formed on a wheel, as they are often of uniform thickness throughout (sometimes not more than one-sixth of an inch), polished and ornamented with scrolls and figures of birds and flowers in delicate relief. But the most instructive objects are the sculptured stone pipes, representing not only various easily-recognizable animals, but also human heads, so well executed that they appear to be portraits. Among the animals, not only are such native forms as the panther, bear, otter, wolf, beaver, raccoon, heron, crow, turtle, frog, rattlesnake, and many others, well represented, but also the manatee, which perhaps then ascended the Mississippi as it now does the Amazon, and the toucan, which could hardly have been obtained nearer than Mexico. The sculptured heads are especially remarkable, because they present to us the features of an intellectual and civilized people. The nose in some is perfectly straight, and neither prominent nor dilated, the mouth is small, and the lips thin, the chin and upper lip are short, contrasting with the ponderous jaw of the modern Indian, while the cheek-bones present no marked prominence. Other examples have the nose somewhat projecting at the apex in a manner quite unlike the features of any American indigenes, and, although there are some which show a much coarser face, it is very difficult to see in any of them that close resemblance to the Indian type which these sculptures have been said to exhibit. The few authentic crania from the mounds present corresponding features, being far more symmetrical and better developed in the frontal region than those of any American tribes, although somewhat resembling them in the occipital outline;[1] while one was described by its discoverer (Mr. W. Marshall Anderson) as "a beautiful skull worthy of a Greek."

The antiquity of this remarkable race may perhaps not be very great, as compared with the prehistoric man of Europe, although the opinions of some writers on the subject seem affected by that "parsimony of time" on which the late Sir Charles Lyell so often dilated. The mounds are all overgrown with dense forest, and one of the large trees was estimated to be 800 years old, while other observers consider the forest-growth to indicate an age of at least 1,000 years. But

  1. Wilson's "Prehistoric Man," third edition, vol. ii., pp. 123-130.