A Further Contribution to the Study of the Mortuary Customs of the North American Indians eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 247 pages of information about A Further Contribution to the Study of the Mortuary Customs of the North American Indians.
Others, with more respect for their dead, buried them in sepulchers made with niches, where they placed maize and wine and renewed the same annually.  With some, a mother dying while suckling her infant, the living child was placed at her breast and buried with her, in order that in her future state she might continue to nourish it with her milk.


In view of the fact that the subject of mound-burial is so extensive, and that in all probability a volume by a member of the Bureau of Ethnology may shortly be published, it is not deemed advisable to devote any considerable space to it in this paper, but a few interesting examples may be noted to serve as indications to future observers.

The first to which attention is directed is interesting as resembling cist burial combined with deposition in mounds.  The communication is from Prof.  F.W.  Putnam, curator of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology, Cambridge, made to the Boston Society of Natural History, and is published in volume XX of its proceedings, October 15, 1878: 

* * * He then stated that it would be of interest to the members, in connection with the discovery of dolmens in Japan, as described by Professor Morse, to know that within twenty-four hours there had been received at the Peabody Museum a small collection of articles taken from rude dolmens (or chambered barrows, as they would be called in England), recently opened by Mr. E. Curtiss, who is now engaged, under his direction, in exploration for the Peabody Museum.
These chambered mounds are situated in the eastern part of Clay County, Missouri, and form a large group on both sides of the Missouri River.  The chambers are, in the three opened by Mr. Curtiss, about 8 feet square, and from 4 1/2 to 5 feet high, each chamber having a passage-way several feet in length and 2 in width, leading from the southern side and opening on the edge of the mound formed by covering the chamber and passage-way with earth.  The walls of the chambered passages were about 2 feet thick, vertical, and well made of stones, which were evenly laid without clay or mortar of any kind.  The top of one of the chambers had a covering of large, flat rocks, but the others seem to have been closed over with wood.  The chambers were filled with clay which had been burnt, and appeared as if it had fallen in from above.  The inside walls of the chambers also showed signs of fire.  Under the burnt clay, in each chamber, were found the remains of several human skeletons, all of which had been burnt to such an extent as to leave but small fragments of the bones, which were mixed with the ashes and charcoal.  Mr. Curtiss thought that in one chamber he found the remains of 5 skeletons and in another 13.  With these skeletons there were a few flint implements and minute fragments of vessels of clay.
A large mound near the chambered mounds
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A Further Contribution to the Study of the Mortuary Customs of the North American Indians from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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