Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Curved-Base Moundbuilder Pipe (100 BC -- AD 500)

In their seminal work  "Ancient Monuments of the Mississipipi Valley"

 published in June 1847 by the Smithsonian Institution,  

Ephraïm Squier (1821-88)

and Edwin Davis (1811-88)


explored the origin, antiquity and identity of the moundbuilders in the Mississippi Valley.

 Most of their efforts were initially focused on the archeological remains in and around Chillicothe, Ohio.  

Three Miles North of Chillicothe on the Scioto River

Among them, Mound City Group, a large Hopewell culture (100 BC -- AD 500) ceremonial center located along the Scioto River in Ross County. 

Mound City consists of 24 burial mounds framed by a large earthen enclosure shaped like a square with rounded corners. The enclosure is 2,050 feet across and the walls are about three feet high.

Mound No. 8 was a surprise for Squier and Davis...

"In the number and value of its relics, this mound far exceeds any hitherto explored. It is small in size, and in its structure exhibits nothing remarkable. It had but one sand stratum, the edges of which rested on the outer slopes of the altar."

"between this stratum and the deposit in the basin occurred a layer, a few inches thick, of burned loam. The altar itself was somewhat singular, though quite regular in shape. In length it was six feet two inches, in width four feet."

The deposit (a) in this altar was large. Intermixed with much ashes were found not far from two hundred pipes, carved in stone...

Fig. 155. The Beaver; fig. 156, 157. The Otter; fig. 158, 159,160 The Wild Cat

"The bowls of most of the pipes are carved in miniature figures of animals, birds, reptiles, etc. All of them are executed with strict fidelity to nature, and with exquisite skill.The otter is shown in characteristic attitude, holding a fish, the hawk grasps a small bird in its talons, which it tears with its beak, the panther, the bear, the wolf, the beaver, the otter, the squirrel, the raccoon, the hawk, the heron, crow, swallow, buzzard, paroquet, toucan, and other indigenous and southern birds, the turtle, the frog, toad and rattlesnake, etc., are recognized at first glance".

This exquisite bear curved-base effigy pipe was found a few miles north in Pickaway Co., Ohio. 

note the lifelike finesse of execution,

and the enigmatic human face the bear rest its paws upon...

 not so dissimilar from a relic found in Belmont County, Ohio, nearly opposite Wheeling, on the Ohio river.

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