Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Mound Builders and the Mastodon or Mammoth


Several Native American historical accounts claim the mound builders in the Ohio Valley used the Mastodon as a beat of burden to construct the large earthworks in the Ohio Valley.

     Several accounts have appeared of discoveries tending to prove that primitive man in the United States was contemporaneous with the mastodon or mammoth. Three of these have attained a wide circulation. First in time as well as importance is that of Dr. Koch, of St. Louis. " In the year 1839, I discovered and disinterred in Gasconade County, Missouri, the bones of a Mastodon giganteus. The greater portion of the bones had been more or less burned by fire. The fire had extended, but a few feet beyond the space occupied by the animal and had been kindled by human agency with the design of killing the huge creature which had been found mired in the mud. The fore and hind legs of the animal were in perpendicular position in the clay with the toes attached to the feet. All the bones which had not been burned by the fire had kept their original position, standing upright, and apparently quite undisturbed in the clay, whereas those portions which had extended above the surface had been partially consumed. Mingled with the ashes and bones were many broken pieces of rock quarried from the river to be hurled at the animal. I found also among the ashes, bones, and rocks, several arrow-heads, a stone spear-head, and some stone axes. The layer of ashes, etc., was covered by a strata of alluvial deposits from eight to nine feet thick. [Koch afterward] found in Benton County several stone arrowheads, mingled with the bones of a nearly entire skeleton, mentioned above as the Missourian. Two arrowheads found with the bones were in a layer of vegetable mold, which was covered twenty feet in thickness with alternate layers of sand, clay and gravel. One of the arrow-heads lay under the thigh bone of the skeleton, the bone actually resting in contact upon it. The layer of vegetable mold was some five or six feet thick, and the arrowhead and bones were found buried in it. Above this layer there were six undisturbed layers of clay, sand and gravel." — From Foster, 63, condensed.