« EelmineJätka »
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 it must have been formed on a wheel, as it is 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 civilised 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
American indigenes ; and although there are some which show much coarser face, it is very difficult to see in any
of in several of the mounds of Ohio. (Foster's Prehistoric Races of the United States, 1873, pp. 225-229.)
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;' 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 opinion of some writers on the subject seems affected by that “parsimony of time 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 it is well known that it requires several generations of trees to pass away before the growth on a deserted clearing comes to correspond with that of the surrounding virgin forest, while this forest, once established, may go on growing for an unknown number of thousands of years. The 800 or 1,000 years estimate from the growth of existing vegetation is a minimum which has no bearing whatever on the actual age of these mounds; and we might almost as well attempt to determine the time of the glacial epoch from the age of the pines or oaks which now grow on the moraines.
The important thing for us, however, is that when North America was first settled by Europeans, the Indian
| Wilson's Prehistoric Man, 3rd edit. vol. ii. pp. 123-130.
tribes inhabiting it had no knowledge or tradition of any preceding race of higher civilisation than themselves. Yet we find that such a race existed ; that they must have been populous and have lived under some established government; while there are signs that they practised agriculture largely, as, indeed, they must have done to have supported a population capable of executing such gigantic works in such vast profusion ; for it is stated that the mounds and earthworks of various kinds in the state of Ohio alone, amount to between eleven and twelve thousand. In their habits, customs, religion, and arts, they differed strikingly from all the Indian tribes ; while their love of art and of geometric forms, and their capacity for executing the latter upon so gigantic a scale, render it probable that they were a really civilised people, although the form their civilisation took may have been
have been very different from that of later peoples, subject to very different influences and the inheritors of a longer series of ancestral civilisations. We have here, at all events, a striking example of the transition, over an extensive country, from comparative civilisation to comparative barbarism, the former leaving no tradition and hardly any trace of its influence on the latter.
As Mr. Mott well remarks :-Nothing can be more striking than the fact that Easter Island and North America both give the same testimony as to the origin of the savage life found in them, although in all circumstances and surroundings the two cases are so different. If no stone monuments had been constructed in Easter Island, or mounds containing a few relics saved from fire, in the United States, we might never have suspected
the existence of these ancient peoples. therefore, that it is very easy for the records of an ancient nation's life entirely to perish or to be hidden from observation. Even the arts of Nineveh and Babylon were unknown only a generation ago, and we have only just discovered the facts about the mound-builders of North America.
But other parts of the American continent exhibit parallel phenomena. Recent investigations show that in Mexico, Central America, and Peru the existing race of Indians has been preceded by a distinct and more civilised race. This is proved by the sculptures of the ruined cities of Central America, by the more ancient terra-cottas and paintings of Mexico, and by the oldest portrait-pottery of Peru. All alike show markedly non-Indian features, while they often closely resemble modern European types. Ancient crania, too, have been found in all these countries, presenting very different characters from those of any of the existing indigenous races of America.1
The Great Pyramid.—There is one other striking example of a higher being succeeded by a lower degree of knowledge, which is in danger of being forgotten because it has been made the foundation of theories which seem wild and fantastic, and are probably in great part erroneous. I allude to the Great Pyramid of Egypt, whose form, dimensions, structure, and uses have recently been the subject of claborate works by Prof. Piazzi Smyth. Now the admitted facts about the Pyramid are so interesting and so apposite to the subject
1 Wilson's Prehistoric Man, 3rd edit. vol. ii. pp. 125, 144.
we are considering, that I beg to recall them to your attention. Most of you are aware that this pyramid has been carefully explored and measured by successive Egyptologists, and that the dimensions have lately become capable of more accurate determination, owing to the discovery of some of the original casing-stones, and the clearing away of the earth from the corners of the foundation showing the sockets in which the cornerstones fitted. Prof. Smyth devoted many months of work with the best instruments, in order to fix the dimensions and angles of all accessible parts of the structure ; and he has carefully determined these by a comparison of his own and all previous measures, the best of which agree pretty closely with each other. The results arrived at are :
1. That the pyramid is truly square, the sides being equal and the angles right angles.
2. That the four sockets on which the four first stones of the corners rested, are truly on the same level.
3. That the directions of the sides are accurately to the four cardinal points.
4. That the vertical height of the pyramid bears the same proportion to its circumference at the base, as the radius of a circle does to its circumference.
Now all these measures, angles, and levels are accurate, not as an ordinary surveyor or builder could make them, but to such a degree as requires the very best modern instruments and all the refinements of geodetical science to discover any error at all. In addition to this we have the wonderful perfection of the workmanship in the interior of the pyramid, the passages and chambers being lined with huge blocks of stones fitted with the