THE MOUND BUILDERS.
Important archaeological discoveries, (says the London “Times,”) have been made within the last few weeks in the United States among the mounds of the Little Miami Valley, in the State of Ohio. Near the Town of Madisonville an extensive aboriginal cemetery has been explored, which has disclosed many interesting facts in relation to the pre-his-toric mound-building race of that section. Thus far the excavations have extended only over a limited portion of the burialground. Two hundred skeletons have been taken from the graves already opened, of which number, however, not more than forty or fifty crania could be preserved sufficiently well for measurement. There appeared to be no constant orientation of the bodies, though many of them were laid in a horizontal position, with the heads directed toward the east or south-east. Some of the skeletons were found lying at right angles to these, but it is worthy of note that all the remains which were associated with the finer vases, pipes, and other choice objects had their heads placed toward the east with slight variations. An examination of the human bones revealed traces of rachitis and syphilis. One bone had imbedded in it a small triangular stone arrow-head, which had evidently occasioned death. Accompanying many of the remains of children, various toys or ornaments of perforated bone and shell and diminutive earthen vessels were found. A large number of the latter were exhumed, varying in capacity from a gill to over a gallon This ware is, in some instances, elaborately ornamented with scroll-work, handles in the form of lizards, human heads, etc., and is almost invariably provided, with four handles, placed at equal distances around the circumference. One interesting specimen is furnished with eight handles arrayed in two horizontal rows, the vessel being two storied, or formed of two separate pots placed one above the other with the bottom of the upper one removed. The number of these vessels thus far discovered is upwards of 90, the majority of them being found with valves of unio or fresh water mussel, in them, which had evidenty served as spoons. The vases were usually placed around or near the heads of the bodies. Over the surface of the ground vast quantities of broken pottery occurred, indicating the immense amount of earthenware which had been originally buried with the occupants of the graves. In addition to these objects large numbers of stone discs, axes, chisels, flint knives, arrow-heads, ornaments and implements of bone, 12 stone tobacco pipes and two tubes of rolled copper were exhumed. One of the most interesting and unique features brought to light by these excavations is the existence of large numbers of deposits which may be designated ashpits. Of these more than 50 have been opened, averaging 3ft. to 4ft. in diameter and 4ft to Gft, in depth. They are composed of layers of leaf mould and sandy clay, burnt earth and charcoal, white ashes, sand and unio shells. Throughout the deposits were scattered fragments of pottery, stone implements, ornaments of shell and stone, and bones of wild animals. That these graves date back to a remote antiquity may be proved by the fact that no objects of European introduction have been found in them. In some instances the skeletons were found directly beneath large trees and occasionally imbedded in a network of roots. One oak tree, whose roots had penetrated the skull of one of the skeletons, measured Gft. 2in. in diameter, and other giants which belong to the original forest that still covers the site of the cemetery measure 154 ft, and 12ft. in circumference. It will be difficult to determine to what particular race or time the people of these graves belonged until further investigations shall have been prosecuted. Excavations are still being made, and not more than a quarter of the cemetery has as yet been examined.
A Murrain in the Mauritius. — A serious epidemic is raging among cattle in the Mauritius. Since the first appearance of this plague in May last, no less than 21,355 cattle have been lost. This is the official number given, and it is believed there are many thousand deaths which have not been brought to official notice. The cattle are dying off at the rate of 3500 a month. The epidemic has also attacked the deer of this island. During December no less than 384 deer are officially certified to have died from the disease. Of course there are many more which have perished in the forest unknown to the rangers. Large shipments of mules from South America, and horses from Western Australia, have been made to meet the deficiency in draught animals, and large numbers of cattle continue to arrive weekly by steamer from Madagascar,
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