Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/597

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ABORIGINAL POTTERY.

opportunity of visiting the springs. I then found the plateau between them cleared and under cultivation; the water had dried from the sink; a crop of corn was growing on its bottom; the plough had overturned and broken the mould, but in doing so had exposed portions of others of the same character. They appeared to have been small mounds built of stone, and covered with a tenacious yellow clay, which, by sun-drying, had become as hard as common salmon-brick.

From the position of the moulds on the rim of the sink, I inclined to the opinion that it was mainly an artificial reservoir for water, and the centre of a great pottery-manufactory; the material used being the siliceous fire-clays and shales of the coal-measures, which are found in abundance, decomposed and ready for use, in ravines within reasonable distance of the locality, together with fresh-water shells from the reefs and ripples of the Saline and Wabash Rivers, using bivalves and univalves indiscriminately.

The plough had played sad havoc with the pieces of pottery I expected to secure. At first, pieces ten or twelve inches across were easily obtained; now one as large as the hand is a treasure: this breaking up made it very difficult to secure the evidence I was looking for. I made many thorough searches before finding any specimens of well-marked unions of the bandages, or establishing conclusively that in no case were the bottoms of the large vessels marked, as they would have been if formed in baskets.

PSM V11 D597 American aboriginal pottery.jpg
Fig. 3.

A person familiar with the work of the early settlers informs me that, in grading for foundations of their salt-furnaces, several of the large pans, almost perfect, were unearthed and destroyed by the black laborers. He paid no attention to the markings, only observing that their bottoms were perfectly plain, and described them as "basins, as large around as the hind-wheel of his wagon, with flattish bottoms."