Editorial, 15 July 1842–B

  • Source Note
Page 858
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AMERICAN ANTIQUITIES.
Some have supposed that all the great works of the west, of which we have been treating, belong to our present race of Indians; but from continued wars with each other, have driven themselves from agricultural pursuits, and thinned away their numbers, to that degree, that the wild animals and fishes of the rivers, and wild fruit of the forests, were found sufficient to give them abundant support: on which account, they were reduced to savagism.
But this is answered by the Antiquarian Society, as follows: “Have our present race of Indians ever buried their dead in mounds by thousands? Were they acquainted with the uses of silver or copper? These metals curiously wrought have been found. Did the ancients of our Indians burn the bodies of distinguished chiefs, on funeral piles, and then raise a lofty tumulus over the urn containing their ashes? Did the Indians erect any thing like the “walled towns,” on Paint Creek? Did they ever dig such wells as are found at Marietta, Portsmouth, and above all, such as those in Paint Creek? Did they manufacture vessels from calcareous breccia, equal to any now made in Italy?
To this we respond, they never have: no, not even their traditions afford a glimpse of the existence of such things, as forts, tumuli, roads, wells, mounds, walls enclosing between one and two hundred, and even five hundred acres of land; some of them of stone, and others of earth, twenty feet in thickness, and exceeding high, are works requiring too much labor for Indians ever to have performed.
An idol found in a tumulus near Nashville, Tennessee, and now in the Museum of Mr. Clifford, of Lexington, is made of clay, peculiar for its fineness. With this clay was mixed a small portion of gypsum or plaster of Paris. This Idol was made to represent a man, in a state of nudity or nakedness, whose arms had been cut off close to the body, and whose nose and chin have been mutilated, with a fillet and cake upon its head.
Some years since a clay vessel was discovered, about twenty feet below the surface, in alluvial earth, in digging a well near Nashville, Tennessee, and was found standing on a rock, from whence a spring of water issued. This vessel was taken to Peale’s Museum, at . It contains about one gallon; was circular in its shape, with a flat bottom, from which it rises in a somewhat globose form, terminating at the summit with the figure of a female head; the place where the water was introduced, or poured out, was on the one side of it, nearly at the top of the globose part.
Another idol was, a few years since, dug up in Natchez, on the , on a piece of ground where, according to tradition, long before Europeans visited this country, stood an Indian temple.— This idol is of stone, and is nineteen inches in height, nine inches in width, and seven inches thich at the extremities.— On its breast, as represented on the plate of the idol, were five marks, which were evidently characters of some kind, resembling as supposed, the Persian; probably expressing, in the language of its authors, the name and supposed attributes of the senseless god of stone.
One of the arts known to the builders of Babel, was that of brick making; this art was also known to the people who built the works in the west. The knowl [p. 858]
AMERICAN ANTIQUITIES.
Some have supposed that all the great works of the west, of which we have been treating, belong to our present race of Indians; but from continued wars with each other, have driven themselves from agricultural pursuits, and thinned away their numbers, to that degree, that the wild animals and fishes of the rivers, and wild fruit of the forests, were found sufficient to give them abundant support: on which account, they were reduced to savagism.
But this is answered by the Antiquarian Society, as follows: “Have our present race of Indians ever buried their dead in mounds by thousands? Were they acquainted with the uses of silver or copper? These metals curiously wrought have been found. Did the ancients of our Indians burn the bodies of distinguished chiefs, on funeral piles, and then raise a lofty tumulus over the urn containing their ashes? Did the Indians erect any thing like the “walled towns,” on Paint Creek? Did they ever dig such wells as are found at Marietta, Portsmouth, and above all, such as those in Paint Creek? Did they manufacture vessels from calcareous breccia, equal to any now made in Italy?
To this we respond, they never have: no, not even their traditions afford a glimpse of the existence of such things, as forts, tumuli, roads, wells, mounds, walls enclosing between one and two hundred, and even five hundred acres of land; some of them of stone, and others of earth, twenty feet in thickness, and exceeding high, are works requiring too much labor for Indians ever to have performed.
An idol found in a tumulus near Nashville, Tennessee, and now in the Museum of Mr. Clifford, of Lexington, is made of clay, peculiar for its fineness. With this clay was mixed a small portion of gypsum or plaster of Paris. This Idol was made to represent a man, in a state of nudity or nakedness, whose arms had been cut off close to the body, and whose nose and chin have been mutilated, with a fillet and cake upon its head.
Some years since a clay vessel was discovered, about twenty feet below the surface, in alluvial earth, in digging a well near Nashville, Tennessee, and was found standing on a rock, from whence a spring of water issued. This vessel was taken to Peale’s Museum, at . It contains about one gallon; was circular in its shape, with a flat bottom, from which it rises in a somewhat globose form, terminating at the summit with the figure of a female head; the place where the water was introduced, or poured out, was on the one side of it, nearly at the top of the globose part.
Another idol was, a few years since, dug up in Natchez, on the , on a piece of ground where, according to tradition, long before Europeans visited this country, stood an Indian temple.— This idol is of stone, and is nineteen inches in height, nine inches in width, and seven inches thich at the extremities.— On its breast, as represented on the plate of the idol, were five marks, which were evidently characters of some kind, resembling as supposed, the Persian; probably expressing, in the language of its authors, the name and supposed attributes of the senseless god of stone.
One of the arts known to the builders of Babel, was that of brick making; this art was also known to the people who built the works in the west. The knowl [p. 858]
Page 858