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The Mound-Builders

Henry Clyde Shetrone; with a new introduction by Bradley T. Lepper

Publication Year: 2004

A Dan Josselyn Memorial Publication

A classic resource on early knowledge of prehistoric mounds and the peoples who constructed them in the eastern United States.

With this accessible volume, Henry Clyde Shetrone made available to general readers the archaeological research data and conclusions concerning the ancient mounds and earthworks that dot the landscape of eastern North America. Dismissing popularly held theories of mysterious giants who built these structures, he explained that their purposes were defensive and ceremonial, that they had been used for habitation, burial, and worship. Their builders were antecedents of the native peoples of present-day America and had been skilled artisans and engineers with successful agricultural practices and structured leadership.

Twenty chapters discuss aspects of mound-builder cultures: quarrying of flint and obsidian for knapping into points; mining of copper and iron and its fashioning into tools and ceremonial objects; spinning and weaving materials and methods; smoking customs; carving of calumets and their use in ceremony; freshwater pearls and other items for body ornamentation; and the use of stone burial vaults, cremation basins, and concepts of an afterlife. Data is presented from excavations ranging broadly from Massachusetts to Florida and from Texas to North Dakota.

As Bradley Lepper points out in his new introduction, "The Mound-Builders is a testament to Shetrone's success at working towards 'correlation and systematization' of data, as well as public education. . . . Shetrone was no armchair popularizer. His work was based on years of excavation and first-hand familiarity with much of the data. His popularizations [still] echo with the ring of the shovel and trowel in gravelly soil."



Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-5

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pp. v-vii

Planning the book with the idea of obtaining something of order and sequence and of sustaining human interest was not the least of the problems involved. Considerable license admittedly has been taken in attempting to effect the desired result. Outside of a few restricted areas the mound-building...


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pp. 10-21

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Introduction to the 2004 Edition

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pp. xxi-xliv

Shetrone was a slightly built man, five feet, seven inches tall, with gray eyes and fine, almost effeminate, features. He married Lillie Mae Klinger of Columbus in 1905, but beyond that, we know little of his private life. Upon his death in 1954, his obituaries indicate that he was survived by a cousin and...

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pp. 1-4

Who of the older generation does not recall the thrill imparted by the all too brief references in early textbooks and historical literature to those mysterious denizens of the primeval forest and their no less mysterious mounds? Who of the younger generation, thumbing these musty tomes...

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Chapter I: Early Theories as to Origin and Identity

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pp. 5-26

And now that science, in its own good time, is able to supply definite answers to some (not all) of the queries regarding the Mound-builders and their culture, who shall say that the traditional story of our pioneers, with all its fanciful imaginings, has not served a justifiable...

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Chapter II: Distribution and Classification of the Mounds

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pp. 27-35

Although not all prehistoric mounds are burial tumuli, the great majority may be classed as such, for usually they are found either to cover the remains of the dead or to commemorate their passing. To draw an analogy perhaps hardly permissible from an ethnological standpoint, such...

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Chapter III: Architecture and Engineering

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pp. 36-53

The reader is more or less familiar with the unique snow and ice igloos of the Eskimo, within the Arctic regions; with the elaborate and highly developed houses, of wood construction, erected by the tribes of the northwest coast; and with the striking cliff dwellings and adobe communal houses...

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Chapter IV: Agriculture, Commerce, and Industry

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pp. 54-84

It is customary to think of agriculture as pertaining only to civilized peoples, or at least to peoples who have emerged from so-called barbarism into the realm of what we are pleased to term civilization. As a matter of fact, the beginnings of agriculture can be traced back to very primitive times...

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Chapter V: The Mound-Builder Burial Complex

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pp. 85-105

The nature of the ceremonies attending birth among the Mound-builders, we can only surmise through study of the rites observed by the historic Indians and other peoples of comparable attainment. The awe of death, however, and its inseparably associated concept of a hereafter find material...

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Chapter VI: The Mound-Builder as Artist

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pp. 106-151

So fascinating and so intricate and complex is the subject of native American art, even when the study is confined to the Mound-builder area, that volumes would be required to do it justice. The difficulty of presenting the art of the Mound-builders intelligibly in so brief a space as is here...

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Chapter VII: Tobacco Pipes and Smoking Customs

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pp. 152-164

While in a sense the highly ornate pipes of the mound-building peoples served a utility purpose, it is probable that the everyday pipe of the confirmed smoker is to be found in the plainer, less pretentious stone pipes of rather frequent occurrence and that other ordinary pipes were made...

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Chapter VIII: The Ohio Area: I, The Adena and Fort Ancient Cultures

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pp. 165-184

The Adena culture of Mound-builders is most in evidence in the valleys of the Scioto and Miami rivers, from the latitude of Columbus southward to the Ohio. Their mounds are found also south of the Ohio River in Kentucky and West Virginia, particularly in the lower course of the...

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Chapter IX: The Ohio Area: II, The Hopewell Culture

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pp. 185-222

The Hopewell peoples, unlike those of other centers of advanced cultural attainment in America, lived wholly within the prehistoric period and had disappeared from the theater of action before Europeans came upon the scene. The Incas of Peru, or their descendants; the Aztecs of...

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Chapter X: The Ohio Area: III, Fortifications and Effigy Mounds

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pp. 223-236

The Fort occupies a peninsulalike headland of approximately 100 acres projecting from the adjacent plateau and overlooks the river from a height of approximately 270 feet. The location is eminently strategic, with precipitous declivities dropping to the river along the west side while...

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Chapter XI: The Ohio Area: IV, Marginal Subareas

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pp. 237-249

Although the Keystone State is rich in evidences of prehistoric occupancy, they seldom take the form of mounds or other major works. Only in the extreme western portion of the state, contiguous to Ohio, are mounds and earthworks anything more than occasional and scattered. In the northwestern...

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Chapter XII: A Tour of the Ohio Mound Area

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pp. 250-267

The logical starting point for a tour of the Ohio mound area is Columbus. After a visit to the Ohio State Museum, where the world's most extensive collections of mound relics are displayed, the tourist finds himself impatient to view the tumuli from which this wealth of material was taken...

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Chapter XIII: The Great Lakes Area

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pp. 268-290

The prehistory of the area is dominated by the material and cultural evidences of the Iroquoian linguistic family or stock, which occupied the Great Lakes region and the valley of the St. Lawrence with the more expansive Algonquian family practically surrounding it when first noted by...

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Chapter XIV: The Upper Mississippi Area: I, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and The Dakotas

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pp. 291-315

None of the other divisions of the general mound area is more striking or more important than the Upper Mississippi from the standpoint either of numbers or of impressiveness of the mounds and other major works. While the effigy-mound culture of southern Wisconsin and adjacent portions...

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Chapter XV: The Upper Mississippi Area: II, Northern Illinois, Iowa, and Marginal Districts

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pp. 316-340

It is gratifying to note, however, that the neglect which has characterized this important region is being replaced by archaeological activity of a most satisfactory nature. Under the direction of Professor Fay-Cooper Cole, head of the Department of Anthropology of the University of...

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Chapter XVI: The Lower Mississippi Area: I, Southern Illinois, Western Kentucky and Tennessee, Southern Missouri, and Arkansas

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pp. 341-370

The distinctive features of the Lower Mississippi area are flat-topped mounds, square, rectangular, and conical; enclosures, defensive and otherwise; shell mounds and flat deposits of shells, in the southern portion; and a high development of ceramic art both in the embellishment of vessels...

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Chapter XVII: The Lower Mississippi Area: II, Louisana, Mississippi, and Alabama

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pp. 371-408

Emphasizing Moore's distinction between the pottery north of the Arkansas River and that to the south, incised decoration combined with the use of pigment, generally covering the entire vessel in a solid color, reached a high degree of excellence in the Ouachita valley. On the...

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Chapter XVIII: The Tennessee-Cumberland Area

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pp. 409-444

The Tennessee-Cumberland area comprises the State of Kentucky with the exception of its northern and western extensions, which pertain to the Ohio and the Lower Mississippi areas; those portions of southern Indiana and Illinois bordering on the lower course of the...

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Chapter XIX: The Peninsular Area

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pp. 445-470

Although the wanderings of the early explorers contributed little or nothing to archaeological data on the region, their records, especially those of De Soto and his chroniclers, contain valued references to the ethnology of this earliest colonized portion of the general mound area. Later the...

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Chapter XX: Summary and Conclusions

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pp. 471-489

In the reaction following the early theories as to the Mound-builders, too often speculative and even visionary, the tendency has been decidedly toward the opposite extreme. In their zeal to correct the fanciful imaginings of pioneer writers, more recent investigators have felt themselves called...


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pp. 491-496


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pp. 497-508

Back Cover

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p. 558-558

E-ISBN-13: 9780817384296
E-ISBN-10: 0817384294
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817350864
Print-ISBN-10: 0817350861

Page Count: 554
Publication Year: 2004