ANCIENT MONUMENTS OF THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY (full title ANCIENT
MONUMENTS OF THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY: COMPRISING THE RESULTS OF
EXTENSIVE ORIGINAL SURVEYS AND EXPLORATIONS) (1848) by the Americans
Ephraim George Squier and
Edwin Hamilton Davis is a landmark in
American scientific research, the study of the prehistoric indigenous
mound builders of North America, and the early development of
archaeology as a scientific discipline. Published in 1848 , it was the
* 1 Davis and Squier * 2 Project scope * 3 Contributions to knowledge * 4 Re-issue * 5 References * 6 Notes
DAVIS AND SQUIER
Edwin Davis was born in 1811 in
Ephraim Squier, ten years younger than Davis, was born in Bethlehem, New York in 1821. By the time he arrived in Chillicothe in 1845 as the editor of the weekly Scioto Gazette newspaper, he had received training in civil engineering , education and journalism . Squier was intrigued by the numerous prehistoric monuments in the surrounding area. His questioning local residents about them failed to provide much insight. With his characteristic ambition, Squier decided to "take the compass and chain in one hand and the mattock and spade in the other" and begin his own research.
When the two men encountered one another, they formed a collaboration based on Davis' knowledge of the Scioto Valley sites and growing collection of artifacts, combined with Squier's knowledge of surveying and writing. Their joint personal interests soon became a formal project.
This map of
Ancient Monuments provides descriptions of sites across much of the
Eastern United States, as the title indicates. The hundreds of
earthworks which Squier and Davis personally surveyed and sketched
were located primarily in and around Ross County in southern
A major part of Squier and Davis' achievement was their classification of sites according to apparent function, such as burial grounds, effigies , fortifications, and building foundations. They sometimes were limited by their preconceptions about the cultures which they described. Their observation and descriptive skills often exceeded the quality of the records they made regarding excavation methods and recovery techniques.
CONTRIBUTIONS TO KNOWLEDGE
Ancient Monuments was edited by the physicist
Knowing that both anthropology and archaeology were relatively new fields of study, Henry sought to minimize Squier and Davis' speculation about the origins and purposes of the works they had surveyed and sketched. He emphasized the scientific presentation of their findings. The work clearly communicates the view—commonly held at the time—that the earthworks had been created by a race separate from and superior to contemporary Native American populations. When the book was published, Squier and Davis' work immediately became a milestone in a still-developing field. Established then as a primary source on the subject of the mound builders, it retains that position because of the breadth of its coverage.
A 150th anniversary paperback edition of Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley was published by the Smithsonian in 1998. The extensive introduction was written by David J. Meltzer, professor of anthropology at Southern Methodist University .
* Ephraim G. Squier, Edwin H. Davis, David J. Meltzer (Editor).
(Paperback Re-issue, 1998). Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi
Valley (Classics in Smithsonian Anthropology). Smithsonian Books. ISBN
* Bruce G. Trigger (1990). A History of Archaeological Thought.
Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-33818-2
* Charles Boewe (2004). C.S. Rafinesque and
* ^ A B C "Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley". World Digital Library . 1848. Retrieved 2013-07-29. * ^ Squier, Davis, Meltzer, Introduction, p.6.
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