American Antiquities. A large part of what are called the antiquities of America consist only of the architectural and other remains of the aboriginal tribes and nations, which were displaced or subjugated by European conquest and settlement. Such are many of the ruined temples and other edifices of Peru, Central America, and Mexico, as well as most of the ruder monuments of New Mexico, and probably all of those still ruder earthworks and rock sculptures which are found eastward of the Alleghanies. Cartier in Canada, and Smith in Virginia, as well as the pilgrims in New England and the French in western New York, all found the Indians constructing defences, consisting of ditches, embankments, and palisaded, the remains of which are still numerous, and which have been variously ascribed to Celtic, Hebrew, and Tartar origins. So too Coronado, who marched into New Mexico as early as 1540, found there in perfect condition and actual use those singular edifices of fort-like dimensions and numerous stories, which since, abandoned and ruined, under the name of casas grandes, have been claimed as monuments of a supposed migration of the Aztecs from some undefined northern region, or from the frozen wastes of Kamtchatka, beyond the straits of Behring. Cortes in Mexico, Grijalva and Montejo in Yucatan, Alvarado in Guatemala, and Pizarro and his captains in Peru, all found vast and imposing structures, the work of the actual inhabitants, the ruins of which are almost universally confounded with those of more ancient monuments, the earlier works of the same hands or of unknown or ex-tinct peoples.
It is certain that Cholula, Uxmal, and Chichen, Quiche and Pachacamac, were all perfect and occupied at the time of the conquest. Hence their remains, however interesting and valuable as illustrating American aboriginal art, can hardly be considered as tailing within the denomination of American antiquities. Under this head, in a strict sense, we can only include such monuments as were really regarded as antiquities by the aborigines themselves, concerning the origin of which they were wholly ignorant, or only possessed a traditionary knowledge. Of this character are most of the earthworks and mounds on the terraces of the Mississippi valley, and in the forests bordering on the Mexican gulf. Such also are the ruined pyramids of Teotihuacan and the crumbling edifices of Mitla, in Mexico; the still more elab-orate structures and sculptured monoliths of Palenque and Copan; and the vast enigmatical monuments of Tiahuanaco on the south-ern shore of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia; to say nothing of the bewildering remains of Man-siche or Grand Chimu in northern Peru. - Commencing with our own country, we find in the Mississippi valley a succession of earthworks, manifestly defensive in character, extending from the lakes southward to the gulf.
They generally crown the summits of steep hills, and consist of an embankment and exterior ditch, of varying dimensions, with approaches often artfully covered. Fort Hill, on the banks of the Little Miami river in Ohio, has a line of circumvallation nearly four miles in extent, varying in height, according to the natural strength of the point protected, from 10 to 20 feet, and embracing an area of several hundred acres. When not erected near to streams, and in cases where springs are not included within their lines, we almost always find artificial reservoirs for holding water. A large class of these defensive works consist of a line of ditch and embankment, or of several lines one within another, carried across the necks of peninsulas or bluff headlands formed within the bends of streams. Associated with these defensive works, and often included within them, are structures connected with religious ideas and ceremonies. They consist of earthworks with their ditches, when such exist, interior and not exterior to the walls, of regular outline, squares, circles, octagons, and other geometrical figures, often combined, and sometimes of great extent; as for instance at Newark, Ohio, where they cover an area of more than two miles square, and probably comprise upward of 12 miles of embankment from 2 to 20 feet in height. (See "Monuments of the Mississippi Valley," by Squicr and Davis, forming the first volume of the "Smith-sonian Contributions to Knowledge.") Other works of a sacred or religious origin, consisting of mounds of earth and stone of various sizes, but always regular shapes, are found in con-nection with those above described, and are very numerous.
They are oftenest square, terraced, and ascended by graded ways; sometimes hexagonal, octagonal, or truncated, and ascended by spiral paths, in most respects coinciding with the teocallis of Mexico and the topes of India - the high altars, symbolical in form, on which the priests offered up sacrifices, and paid adoration to the solar god. Some of these arrest our attention by their geometrical accuracy of form, and others by their great size, covering several acres of ground, and rising to imposing altitudes. A mound of this description, on the plain of Cahokia, Illinois, opposite the city of St. Louis, is 700 feet long by 500 feet broad at the base, and 90 feet high, covering upward of eight acres of ground, and having 20,000,000 cubic feet of contents. These mounds frequently contain skeletons. The most common monuments in the Mississippi valley, however, are those which are incontes-tably simple places of sepulture, memorials raised over the dead, and in their size probably bearing a certain relation to the importance when living of the personages over whom they were erected.
Some of these, like that at Grave ' Creek near Parkersburg in West Virginia, and that at Miamisburg in Ohio, the one 70 and the other 68 feet in vertical height, no doubt mark the graves of personages of high consequence among the builders of these monuments. It sometimes happens that one of these sepulchral mounds contains two or more skeletons, but they rarely cover more than one, except in cases where the later Indian tribes, with a vague notion of their sanctity, have buried their dead in them. The early white settlers also occasionally buried in them. The notion that they contain vast heaps of slain, and are memo- rials of great battles, is unsupported by facts. Still more remarkable earthworks are those commonest in Wisconsin and Iowa, but of which a few examples are found in Ohio, and which bear the outlines of men and animals, constituting huge bass-reliefs on the surface of the earth. One of these, surveyed by Squier and Davis in 1846, on the banks of Brush creek, Adams county, Ohio, is in the form of a serpent, over 1,000 feet in length, extended in graceful curves, and terminating in a triple coil at the tail. The embankment constituting the effigy is upward of 5 feet high by 30 feet base at the centre of the body, diminishing somewhat toward the head and tail.