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Mound Builders of Ancient America

The Archaeology of a Myth

By (author) Robert Silverberg
Genres: Archaeology
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Ohio University Press, Ohio, United States
Published: 31st May 1986
Dimensions: w 190mm h 250mm
ISBN-10: 0821408402
ISBN-13: 9780821408407
Barcode No: 9780821408407
Our forebears, finding large, incomprehensible earthworks scattered down the Mississippi Valley, refused to believe they were built by the aborigines who still cluttered up the place and impeded settlement. Mr. Silverberg describes, with gleeful and copious quotation, the nineteenth-century literature of speculation which attributed these monuments to the Phoenicians, stray Vikings, the lost tribes of Israel, refugees from Atlantis, an extinct race of giants, and Welshmen. The book, which is charmingly written, ends with a history of the archeological work which gave the mounds back to the Indians. -- The Atlantic Monthly

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Kirkus US
The incredibly active Mr. Silverberg, author of many books for adults and children dealing with archaeological matters, again illuminates some stunningly comprehensive research with his own vigorous style and considerable joy in the telling. Although now sometimes hemmed in by city streets, sometimes almost leveled by erosion, the ancient piles of earth which appear in the Mississippi Valley and southeastern United States at one time provided a basis for myths that sparked the imaginations and fancies of Americans to such an extent that a book purporting to tell the truth about the mysterious "Builders of the Mounds" sold 22,000 copies in thirty months in 1833. The myth of "lost tribes" nurtured the theology of a religion (Mormonism); echoes of the belief that the ancient peoples had come from Atlantis, Israel, Denmark, and (remembering advanced civilizations) Mexico, sounded in prose and poetry. Yet in the early enchantment with the magic of a new homeland was a scientific experiment. Amateur archeologists, including two Presidents (Jefferson and Harrison) began poking around the earthworks; conservative and radical branches contering on the identity of the Mound Builders researched, lectured, wrote, and researched again. With scraps of contemporary writings from the violent invasions of Spanish explorers, the author begins a study of a developing body of scientific observations and romantic fancy which persisted through the nineteenth century. Unsung heroes of an infant American archaeology; the founding and growth of the Smithsonian Institution; modern surveys of the nature of the Indian cultures that produced the Mounds; a few of the fuzzier theorists-are given their just due. With illustrations, a distinguished book. (Kirkus Reviews)