Friday, June 18, 2021

Neanderthal Looking Skulls Uncovered in San Francisco California Shell Mound

  Neanderthal Looking Skulls Uncovered in San Francisco California Shell Mound 

Oakland Tribune, August 24, 1896


Remarkable Discovery Made at Shell Mound

   "An interesting discovery has been made at Shell Mound Park, where the skeleton of a prehistoric race of Indians was excavated. These skeletons are of a race unknown at present and are undoubtedly of great antiquity.
They were discovered in a shell mound on the west side of the racetrack. The mound is the usual kind, formed of shells, and is about ten feet high and 100 yards in length. Men were digging in the ground in order to investigate the soil when their spades struck against bones.
A skull was laid bare. The skull was of the most unusual formation and appearance. Professor John Merriam of the State University was immediately sent for and work was suspended until he arrived." 
      "Professor Merriam went to work himself and very carefully dug for the remains. In a short space of time three skeletons were discovered. The skeletons are of ordinary size and the most extra-ordinary characteristic about them is the shape of the skulls. They are more like the skulls of apes than human beings, and present a type of an unusually degraded and depraved race of Indians. There is little or no forehead and the lower part of the skull is shaped like an ape’s.
Professor Merriam declares he has never seen any skulls like these, although they bear a strong resemblance to the heads of the Flat Head Indians, former residents of the more northern coast.
   The skeletons are undoubted of great antiquity, as a careful study shows that they have laid beneath the mound for many hundreds of years. The mound itself is formed like other shell mounds. The peculiar race of Indians, who lived along the coast, camping on the very shore of the ocean, existed principally on shellfish. As soon as they devoured the fishes they probably threw the shells beside their campfire. As time went by, these piles grew into small mounds of various heights. The mound recently excavated is at least ten feet in height and at one time probably stood close to the waves of the ocean.
   That the skeletons were there before the mound was built is proved upon examination. The remains were found below the skulls and beneath strata of ashes. The ashes were undisturbed and formed a two-inch covering over the bones.
   The question now arises, how the ashes came there? The bodies were probably placed two or three inches below the surface and a covering of ashes above them as additional protection from the air, or it may have been that the ashes were thrown there in an entirely accidental manner, as the result of a campfire. The fact that the ashes were there however proves that the relics are ancient. Seven or eight skeletons have been taken out, but they are badly broken condition. They are in the possession of Prof. Merriam.