Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley
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Originally published in 1848 as the first major work in the nascent discipline as well as the first publication of the newly established Smithsonian Institution, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley remains today not only a key document in the history of American archaeology but also the primary source of information on hundreds of mounds and earthworks in the eastern United States, most of which have now vanished. Despite adhering to the popular assumption that the moundbuilders could not have been the ancestors of the supposedly savage Native American groups still living in the region, the authors set high standards for their time. Their work provides insight into some of the conceptual, methodological, and substantive issues that archaeologists still confront.
Long out of print, this 150th anniversary edition includes David J. Meltzer's lively introduction, which describes the controversies surrounding the book’s original publication, from a bitter, decades-long feud between Squier and Davis to widespread debates about the links between race, religion, and human origins. Complete with a new index and bibliography, and illustrated with the original maps, plates, and engravings, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley provides a new generation with a first-hand view of this pioneer era in American archaeology.
ravine, C C, is three hundred feet broad. Massie’s creek, a considerable stream, washes the base of the promontory on the north. The area bounded by the cliff and embankment is not far from twelve acres. The whole is now covered with the primitive forest. The natural strength of this position is great, and no inconsiderable degree of skill has been expended in perfecting its defences. A palisade, if carried around the brow of the cliff and along the summit of the wall, would render it
heretofore noticed. It would almost seem that the builders had originally determined to carry out parallel lines from this point; but after proceeding one hundred feet, had suddenly changed their minds and finished the enclosure, by throwing an immense mound across the uncompleted parts. This mound, which may be taken as constituting a part of the wall of the enclosure, is one hundred and seventy feet long, eight feet higher than the general line of the embankment, and overlooks the entire work.
granulated porphyry, of exceeding hardness,—so hard, indeed, as to turn the edge of the best tempered knife. FIG. 161. Fig. 161 is a very spirited representation of the head of the elk, although it is not minutely accurate. Numerous other illustrations of these miniatures might be introduced; the above will, however, convey a very clear notion of the character of the sculptures and the fidelity of the representations. FIG. 162. Fig. 162 is a fragment of a large and elaborately carved pipe
their presumed function. The effigy mounds of the northwest (Wisconsin and the Dakota Territory) were more of a classificatory problem. These mounds took the form of beasts, birds, reptiles, and humans, and were accompanied by small conical mounds and, occasionally, embankments. Squier and Davis were at a loss as to where to put them in their functional scheme, since they hadn’t seen them firsthand and could only offer a few unsatisfactory guesses about their origins, purposes, distribution, and
figure of $2,500. 117. Robinson et al., June 12, 1847, from the original unpublished version of the AES Report with the Squier Papers, EGS/LC. 118. Rothenberg, personal communication, September 11, 1996. 119. Henry 1849:11; Henry to Gray, May 23, 1848, JHP/SIA. Massive as the volume is, it has virtually no production flaws and very few typographical errors (but see, for example, Plate IV and p. 210)—testimony to the extraordinary care that went into its production, and the many eyes reading