Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/462

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bone, which is such a characteristic feature of the Natchez and. other Southern races of Indians. The Caribs of the West Indies and the Chinooks of Oregon both flattened the heads of their children in infancy; and the skulls of the ancient Peruvians and the figures on the monuments at Palenque show a remarkable flattening of the frontal. This is generally considered to have been the natural form of the skull, to have been the type of beauty cultivated by the Peruvians, Central Americans, Toltecs, etc., and not to have been produced altogether by compression. The peculiar form of skull became hereditary, and children were born with this (to us) deformity.

Various forms of diseased bones are found among the human remains. One of these is a peculiar anchylosis of the spinous and articular processes of some of the vertebræ, the bodies remaining free.[1] It is supposed to have been the vertebral column of a female dwarf, the skeleton of which presented several other points of interest. Among the crania are several which have been fractured by some blunt implement, and the fracture has been partially or completely healed. Two other very interesting specimens are among the human bones. One is the eleventh dorsal vertebra, in which is imbedded for a quarter of an inch one of the small flint-points called war-arrows. The other specimen is a sacrum in which there is imbedded a similar point. This last was found in a pit with twenty-two skeletons,[2] and doubtless belonged to an individual killed with the others in a battle, all of the killed having been buried together. These specimens show with what force the people could send their arrows. Both had entered from the front of the body, passed through it, and were only stopped by the vertebral column. Some of the long bones exhibit various excrescences which have been referred to syphilitic diseases, and which show that the people here buried were afflicted with that fearful scourge which, as some one has expressed it, "turned Europe into a charnel-house."

But the bones of an extinct race of men, interesting though they may be, can tell us but little of their domestic habits, and it is to the implements found here that we turn with greatest interest. These are so abundant, and often of such a peculiar character, that we have much to speculate upon. First of all is the remarkable circumstance of finding so many implements of bone; the abundance of which has generally been thought to be a proof of a low grade of civilization. But probably their abundance or their rarity has been regulated also by the age of the deposit, for, the older the deposit, the less likely it is that the bone relics have resisted the action of time.

Many of the remains are of a peculiar character, unlike anything found elsewhere, and speculations in regard to their origin and use are

  1. For a figure of this and various other diseased bones, see article in "Journal of the Cincinnati Society of Natural History," vol. iv, pp. 241–257.
  2. Ibid., vol. iv, p. 253.