Persians. The Scythian kings are entombed in tumuli along the banks of the Dnieper. Orestes, bewailing his father, Agamemnon, says:
"If but some Lycian spear 'neath Ilium's walls
Had lowly laid thee,
A mighty name in the Atridan halls
Thou woaldst have made thee.
Then hadst thou pitched thy fortunes like a star,
To son and daughter shining from afar,
Beyond the wide-waved sea the high-heaped mound
Had told for ever
Thy feats of battle, and with glory crowned
Thy high endeavor."
In Asia Minor the tomb of Alyattes, the Lydian king, has a circumference of nearly a mile, requiring ten minutes to ride round its base. In the same neighborhood, near the lake Gygæa, are numerous other circular mounds.
The same practice was continued into the later days of Grecian history. Alexander raised a mound over Demaratus, which, Plutarch says, was "eighty cubits high and of vast circumference." The tumulus erected on the plain of Marathon, in commemoration of the one hundred and ninety-two Athenians who fell in the battle, is near the sea, and is to be seen by all travelers. It is about one hundred feet in circumference, and about twenty-five feet high. Finally, coming within the scope of modern history, the construction, at the order of the English Government, of a mound of earth on the plains of Waterloo, attests the tenacity of that sentiment of veneration for the dead who die in the service of their country, and the persistence of a practice, which seems to be common to all mankind and to have survived from prehistoric times, of resorting to the mound of earth, as being at once the easiest made and the most enduring monument in memory of the departed.
The practice of mound-building not being distinctive of any race, tribe, or epoch of the human family, it may be considered not at all unlikely that the aboriginal tribes of America, perhaps without exception, had their ceremonies and habits of burial, if not other rites of a sacred character, in one way and another associated with the erection of mounds of earth. Indeed, it would be a remarkable exception if the native Americans did not erect mounds. They possessed the land without molestation prior to the discovery of Columbus. They had the necessary elements of perpetuity and stability, at least so far as these can be predicated of savage tribes. They cultivated the soil and conducted a considerable trade with their neighbors. They exhibited all other characteristics common to mankind in an uncivilized state. The denial of their resort to mound-building, for the same purposes as other tribes in similar circumstances, carries with it the necessity to account for such an anomalous exception.