Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley
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 Hillsboro, Ohio, just a few miles from
Chillicothe and the many mounds and earthworks of the Scioto River
valley. Seeing these features as a young man inspired his deep
curiosity about them. At the time, archaeology had not developed as an
academic discipline. Davis explored the mounds while a student at
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 Ohio. This area includes Serpent Mound, Fort Ancient, Mound City and Seip Earthworks (both now part of Hopewell Culture National Historical Park), and Newark Earthworks. All their Kentucky sites were taken from the manuscripts of the late C. S. Rafinesque. James McBride, John Locke and Charles Whittlesey, among others, contributed additional first-hand reports, but the scope of Squier and Davis' own work was unprecedented. 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 Joseph Henry, the first Secretary of the Smithsonian, who wanted a worthy initial volume for the Institution's Contributions to Knowledge series. Henry knew that the first book's reception would be important for both the Smithsonian and for American science. His choosing a book devoted to the mound builders was risky, as their origin, history and identity were then the subject of much debate and literature but little scientific investigation. In addition, the subject touched on issues of race, religion, and the still raw tensions between Native Americans and ethnic European settlers. 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. Re-issue 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. References
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.
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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