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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Ohio Mound Builders Not As Advanced As Historians Thought

Contributor:
Dallas Bogan on 28 July 2004
Source:
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland: Heritage Press, 1979) page
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

The ancients who built the mounds were, according to some early writers and archaeologists, of an advanced race, or descendants of the "lost tribes of Israel." These writers wrote of the advanced technology of the first inhabitants of the continent and their culture. The publications have yet to prove the existence of superiority amongst the mound builders.
Ohio has the largest accumulation of mounds in the nation. The most noteworthy in this area are Fort Ancient near Oregonia, and the Miamisburg Mound near Miamisburg. These two earthworks have been explored and excavated and no trace of a "superior race" and their works has been found; only old relics have been unearthed. The relics of these two earthworks, along with thousands of other works, have been scientifically digested with the conclusion being that they were the work of a rather crude people.
The original writings professed that the mound builders consisted of a mathematical knowledge and engineering skill. This theory was wide spread for many generations, but has since been proven a falsehood. Some early archaeologists, using inadequate measurements and observations, overstated that the mound builders geometrical figures were precisely laid out, that the circular works were perfect circles and the rectangular works perfect squares. Modern instruments of precise measurements and surveys have disrupted that theory. Not a single discovery has been found that shows the earthworks to be built on a perfect scale. The culture of the mound builders was no further advanced than that of the Indians Columbus discovered. The conclusion that the builders were without architectural science or engineering skill is one of scientific advancement.
The stones in their walls were without chisel marks. They had no mortar or cement. Their embankments were practically absent of stone in which to prevent them from sliding down hill. They used fire, but had no chimney to carry away the smoke. No evidence of a walled up cistern or dug wells has been found. The mounds were and still are an amazing feat, but compared to the building of the great Pyramids, they are feeble in their construction. They are merely structures of earth in which mere aborigines could dig and carry materials in baskets for their configurations.
Fort Ancient is acclaimed the most studied of the archaeological forts in the United States. The accumulative amount of earth in its 3 1/2 mile structure would hardly equal just one of the great pyramids of Egypt. The dirt of the fort was carried up from the sides of the hill a distance of about 20 or 30 feet, while the huge 40 cubic feet blocks of the Great Pyramid were carried to a height of more than 400 feet.
An opinion of many was that a mighty race once dominated the Mississippi Valley, which predated the American Indian. This population was supposed to be racially distinct from the Indian. They were called the lost race, and it was believed they disappeared before the arrival of the Indian. The scientist has found no proof of such a race. No distinction has ever been made between the ornaments, utensils and artifacts that the mound builders and Indians made.
The Indian tribes at the time of the discovery of America were mound builders. When DeSoto wandered through the Gulf States in 1540-41, several tribes were using mounds, and articles found in the mounds were indications that the Indians had erected them since the coming of the white man. David Zeisberger, the Moravian missionary, writing in 1779, wrote:
"Underground dwellings, there were also of which here and there traces may be found, particularly along the Muskingum, in which region one may find many places where embankments, still to be seen, were thrown up around a whole town. Here and there, furthermore, near the sites of such towns there are mounds, not natural, but made by the hand of man, for in those days the natives carried on great wars within one another, the Indians being formerly according to their own testimony far more numerous than at the present time. At the top of these mounds there was a hollow place in which the Indians brought their wives and children when the enemies approached and attacked them, the men ranging themselves round the mound for defensive action. Their weapons were the bow and arrow and a wooden club, this last a piece of wood of not quite arm's length, having at the end a round knob about the size of a child's head and made of very hard wood. In such attacks both sides usually lost many men, which were often buried in one pit and a great mound of earth raised above them, such as may even now be seen bearing in these days great and mighty trees."


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This page created 28 July 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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