American Antiquities -- By: John L. Taylor

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 012:47 (Jul 1855)
Article: American Antiquities
Author: John L. Taylor


American Antiquities

John L. Taylor

“The progress of historical and antiquarian research in our country, within the last half century, has brought to light a varied mass of facts in American archaeology, in regard to which we propose to offer some statements and suggestions in this Article.

From the time of Humboldt’s explorations in different districts of South and North America, but especially in Mexico,1 the interest which earlier discoveries had excited in the ruins and other monuments of the ancient races that occupied this continent, has been kept alive, in the world of letters, by a succession of publications, embodying new details of every kind, down to the brilliant enterprise of Stephens and Catherwood, in spreading before us the comparatively recent antiquity of Yucatan, and the still later surveys and sketches of Squier and Davis in the broader field of that extremely remote antiquity which throws its spell about us amid the monuments of our great western valley.

Under whatever form they may be found, the memorials of a population, differing in many important particulars from the tribes which roamed here, when, three centuries since, modern civilization was planting itself as a germ on this continent, yet, in other respects, bearing a marked affinity with these tribes, are found in great numbers throughout the whole length and across the entire breadth of the continent. They have been discovered in the extreme north-west, where they are, however, comparatively few and uninteresting, though apparently of great antiquity; around the western and southern shores of the great lakes they occur more frequently, and have been more carefully examined, as they seem worthy to be. Along the Californian gulf, and some of the rivers of that section, various ruins abound, so that in some places the country is covered with them for many leagues. From Wisconsin on the north, over all the broad valley of the Mississippi with its main tributaries, the Ohio and the Missouri, these antiquities exist in almost incredible numbers and magnitude. They were found by Lewis and Clarke a thousand miles from the mouth of the Missouri, toward its sources and near the banks of its various branches; they skirt the Ohio, and radiate from it to the north toward the lakes, and south in Kentucky and Tennessee; indeed, so far as the northern portion of the American continent is concerned, this valley of the Ohio and its immediate vicinity would appear to have been at one time, probably a thousand years or more since, the grand centre of power and population for this now extinct or dispersed people. A writer, who is high authority on this subject, expresses the opinion that the ...

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