Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/817

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ANTHROPOLOGY AT WASHINGTON.

have been surveyed, photographed, and explored, with a view to ascertain their nature, purposes, and contents, and a considerable body of facts pertaining thereto has been gathered.

Ruins.—Aboriginal remains of this class are chiefly confined to the Territories of Arizona and New Mexico. Their examination is in charge of Victor Mindeleff, who is now preparing an extensively illustrated work upon them. Each visit to these regions results in the discovery of hitherto unknown groups of these interesting ruins. A large number have been photographed and surveyed so carefully that models of many of them have been made to a scale, and are now on exhibition in the National Museum. Careful examination of the methods of architecture of the ruins connects them closely with the existing pueblos, among the present inhabitants of which indeed have been found exact traditions of the former occupancy of these ruins by their ancestors, while the causes that led to their abandonment are often known.

Sign-Language and Pictography.—The collection and study of the material for a monograph on these subjects is in charge of Colonel Garrick Mallery. Nowhere, perhaps—at least in modern times—has the sign-language been so extensively used as in America. The collection of the gestures employed in different parts of the country, and their comparison with those used in other parts of the world, have involved great labor, but are now nearly completed. The study of pictographs is a natural correlative to that of gesture-language, the latter being an earlier form of the preceding. Various portions of the United States have been visited, and a large number of pictographs have been photographed or sketched. These occur in the form of petroglyphs or rock-carvings, of paintings on the hides of animals, and etchings on birch-bark. Colonel Mallery's final report upon the above subject may be looked for at no distant day.

Mythology.—The number of myths current among any one Indian tribe is surprising; and, as they differ to a greater or less degree even among tribes of the same locality and are quite distinct in different regions, their total number in the country at large is enormous. As ideas of a religious or superstitious character are known to be very enduring, it has been thought by some that myths may prove an important adjunct in the work of classifying tribes. They are also important as constituting the philosophy of savagery and barbarism, and by their study we arrive more closely than in any other way at primitive ideas of the nature of things, of the forces of nature, and of primitive methods of reasoning. No opportunity has been lost by the bureau assistants to collect Indian myths in their purity, and a vast body of them are now awaiting study.

Photography.—The director of the bureau has been fully