網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

ical pillars or mounds of stone, designated on the annexed plan A A. Each of these mounds are about six feet high, and ien feet in diameter at the base; originally they may have been of somewhat greater altitude, and being on the exterior

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors]

of the wall may have been intended as watch towers. In the rear of the mounds is the northern wall, extending to a high bank on both bra es of Duck river, and opposite to a water fall on each, of ten or twelve feet in height. In the northern wall is an entrance or gateway, and in the rear of the gateway are what appear to be the remains of two stone buildings, C Č, one about sixteen feet square, the other about ten feet; the stones are rough and unhewn. Stretching south the walls are continued on both sides until they reach the points DD, at a bold limestone bluff, which forms a good natural de. fence. South of the bluff the walls are continued of the same height and thickness until they reach the angles of the wall fronting the South, which also extends from the bank of one river to the other, and has also a gateway nearly opposite to that in the northern wall. At the points DD, it is supposed by many who have examined this work, there were formerly excavated passages leading to each branch of Duck river, with steps cut in the rock. On a close examination, the writer of this article was unable to discover any appearance of an excavated passage, or any evidence that the pathway leading to the river was a labored work of art. The ascent and descent are not very diflicult; the steps appear to be such as nature formed by the projections of the rock; and it was, no doubt,

by these passages that the inhabitants of the fort gained access to the river, and were supplied with water.

Near the base of the wall on the south side is a ditch from sixteen to twenty feet wide, and six or eight deep. A short distance farther from the southern wall is another and much more extensive ditch or excavation. In some places it is seventy or eighty feet wide, and from twenty-five to thirty feet deep. The earth from these ditches was probably removed to cover the walls of the fort, and employed in the erection of the neighboring mounds, while tlie ditches themselves constituted an additional means of defence.

It is supposed by some who are unwiiling to admit a very high antiquity, that this fort was constructed by de Soto, who landed in Florida in the year 1538, and probably explored this part of the country; but the trees growing on the walls, and on the area of the fort, indicate an age anterior to the landing of de Soto--they are coeval with trees in the surrounding country.

About three quarters of a mile north of the fort is a mound of an oblong form, about twenty-five feet high, one hundred feet long, and twenty broad. On the north west, about half a mile distant is another mound of similar form, twenty feet high, sixty long, and eighteen wide. These mounds are constructed with the same regularity that distinguishes all the other works of similar character. On both these mounds trees are growing as large as any in the surrounding forests.

The stone fort differs in its form, and the materials used in its construction, from every other I have examined; but it does not exhibit greater evidence of skill. The difference in form was owing to its location on the point of land formed by the junction of the two rivers, and it was made to conform in all respects to the nature of the ground. Stones were employed because they were readily procured. Although the liammer had nothing to do with the preparation of the materials, it was nevertheless a work of great labor, and the place of location was selected with a military eye, more especially as the destructive implements of warfare now in use were then un. known. Several years ago, the then proprietor of the soil, in ploughing the area of the fort, found in piece of flint glass, about an inch thick, which appeared to be a part of a bowl; he also found a stone curiously carved, and ornamented in a style suiperior to the art of the Indians of the present day.

The carved stone may have had some connection with the fort, but the glass was probably dropped by some casual visiter. It has always appeared to me somewhat singular, that so few speci

mens of domestic art have been discovered in the neighborhood of the mounds and other ancient works; the few which have been found serve rather to excite than gratify curiosity.

THE MOUND AT FLORENCE. In the preceding part of this article I alluded to an hexagonal mound at Florence. For the annexed draught and description, I am indebted to Major David Hubbard, who politely fur. nished it at my request.

[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors]

“ Within the limits of the town of Florence, in the state of Alabama, is a remarkable mound, partly surrounded by a wall. The mound is situated within two chains of the Tennessee river, on the north side, on what is termed bottom land: the base is very little elevated above high water mark. Its figure is hexagonal, and its elevation forty-five feet. It measures six chains and seventy-five links round the base, and two chains and twenty-five links round the top. It appears to have been formed of the top of the surrounding earth, being of a very dark mould mixed with sand. It has been carried up from the base to the top with great regularity ; the only difference to be observed is, that the outward angles are more rough, and project farther from a regular line, than the angles facing the river. As far as it has yet been examined there is no appearance of bones of any animal; no stone, or other solid substance has been employed in its construction. Partly surrounding the mound is a wall four chains distant from its base, which extends from the main river below to a branch formed

by Cane Island above, forming a segment of a circle, the centre of which would have been in the Tennessee river. The wall is about forty feet across the top, and making allowances for the ravages of time, must have been originally from twelve to fifteen feet high : it is now about eight feet. The mound and wall bear the same mark of age, both being covered with large timber of the same age and description of that found growing on the surrounding lands. The wall has the appearance of a breastwork, and the remains of a ditch is apparent on the out

side. "

It was

These works are situated on the river bottom, and are half surrounded by a very high ridge, which runs parallel to the Tennessee river, about four hundred yards distant. This ridge, upon which the principal part of the town of Florence is situated, overlooks and entirely commands the whole. The mound, with its surrounding wall, thus situated and exposed to attack, could not have been designed as a place of defence. It must have been appropriated to another purpose. probably a place of worship, a high altar upon which sacrifices were offered to some deity whom the people 'ignorantly worshipped. On its summit, perhaps, the blood of the victim flowed, and the smoke of the incense ascended. May not the circular wall have been the place where these people assembled to witness the rites and ceremonies of their religion? This monument of ancient labor and skill I have contemplated with admiration, and busy fancy has pictured to the imagination the scenes which were there displayed in bygone ages—the superstitious rites which were performed, when the darkness of idolatry covered the nations of the earth.

ANCIENT INSCRIPTION.

In connection with the ancient remains above described, and not inapplicable to the subject of the present article, I will mention another monument of a different character, and certainly belonging to another race, and to much more recent period. Near the Black Warrior river, in the state of Alabama, some eighteen or twenty years since, a rock was discovered on which was an inscription bearing date six hundred years ago.

of the inscription was taken by an officer of the United States army, and from him the writer of this article received it.

This rock is of a triangular shape; it measures 204 inches in width at the base; from the top to the base 22 inches ; 34 inches wide at the top; at the base 104 inches thick, and at

A copy

the top 94 inches. It weighed two hundred and three pounds. On this rock was the following inscription in Roman letters:

HIS R N E H N DR E

V.

1 2 3 2.

This inscription is said to be much defaced by the rude hand of time, but the foregoing letters and figures were distinctly ascertained.

This rock was found on what is supposed to have been an ancient highway, sixteen feet wide, leading to a mound on McCoun's bluff on the Black Warrior. The area of the highway is regular, and at the time of the discovery, was four or five inches below the common level of the earth on either side, and there were trees growing on it from two to four feet in diameter. If the above inscription has been accurately copied, and if it be truly of the age indicated, it affords ground for curious speculation. If this stone were placed on the highway at the time the 'inscription declares, this continent must have been visited by Europeans, long antecedent to its discovery by Columbus. I allude to this rock and inscription, not that I have any great faith in the antiquity of the inscription, but as a subject of curiosity connected with the antiquities of the West, and which may have some connexion with the Roman coins found in Tennessee, of the reigns of Commodus and of Antoninus Pius.

The contemplation of the various monuments of human labor to which I have alluded, and attempted to describe, involuntarily excite in the mind a train of melancholy reflections upon the uncertain tenure by which even nations hold their existence. The mightiest empires have been dissolved; the proudest cities have crumbled into ruins. In this favored land, where the energies of a free people are now exerted in building up a system of things which they hope will be perpetual, a mighty nation once existed, who little thought their fame would be lost in the revolutions of ages. They have disappeared—“their monuments remain, but the events they were intended to keep in memory, are lost in oblivion.”

W. T.

« 上一頁繼續 »