Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/883

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FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

immense volumes of the primary rocks have been worn away by the action of water, and have furnished the material from which the sedimentary rocks are derived. This washing away has involved the breaking open of the minute reservoirs of carbonic acid, and it has gone into the atmosphere, not all at once, but gradually, so as to furnish a continuous, not excessive supply. A brief calculation presented by Professor Claypole makes it evident that the rocks would thus furnish an abundant supply, and to spare, for all the coal that is known to exist.

 

The Houses of Saga Times.—The construction of the dwelling houses of Saga time—a. d. 875 to 1025—has been studied in Iceland by Dr. Valtyr Gudmundsson and Thorstein Erlingsson in co-operation with Miss Cornelia Horsford, by Lieutenant Daniel Brunn, and by the Icelandic Antiquarian Society; and in Greenland by the Danish Government. The ruins of the house believed to have been built by Erik the Red, in Hawk River Valley, Iceland, and in which Leif Eriksen was probably born, as well as the ruins of other similar houses, when undisturbed, are low, grass-grown ridges and hollows, often difficult to detect, except when stones protrude through the turf. A dwelling usually consisted of three apartments—a hall or principal room, in which there was always a fireplace; a sitting room for the women, and a storeroom or pantry. These apartments were like small houses, each with a separate roof, but attached to each other with passages through the thick walls. Near by were usually one or more outhouses. The dwellings were built on the surface of the ground; the floor was of finely beaten earth. The walls were about five feet thick, and somewhat higher. The inner side was built of unhewn stones, and the interstices were filled with earth. The outer side was of alternate layers of turf and stone, and the space between the two sides was filled in with earth kneaded hard. Often, however, the walls were built entirely of layers of turf or with only disconnected rows of stones at the base. A long, narrow fireplace usually extended through the middle of the room, and was either paved or surrounded with stones standing on edge. Besides the long fire, which served to warm and light the hall, there was a small cooking fire made in the same way. The Greenland houses resembled those of Iceland, but the walls were narrower, straighter, and stronger. The dwellings were usually long and narrow, consisting of from three to eight rooms, and were surrounded by outhouses and stables for cattle, sheep, and goats; and close to them are found enormous midden heaps. A ruin is described by Miss Horsford as existing near Cambridge, Mass., bearing marks of similar construction, and is attributed by her probably to Thorfinn Karlsefin's men; and another one, ten miles or more from the settlement at Cambridge, is supposed to be of later date. Very few relics were found in the Iceland houses, but more in those of Greenland—iron nails and knives, pieces of stone vessels, spinning stones, bone combs, and stone pendants bored with holes and incised with runelike but illegible characters.

 

Mr. Bandelier's Explorations.—The archæological researches of Mr. Adolphe F. Bandelier in Peru and Bolivia for about six years were prosecuted at first through the liberality of Mr. Henry Villard, but since 1894 under the auspices of the American Museum of Natural History. From a very cursory summary of his work given in the American Archæologist by F. W. Hodge, it appears that from almost the moment of his arrival at Lima he observed, even in the immediate vicinity of the city, a wealth of archaeological material. It was found, however, that the number of ruins was indicative of successive rather than contemporaneous occupancy. The detailed survey of the ruins proves that the cities they represent did not by any means harbor the numbers of inhabitants they have been usually believed to have contained. They were not compactly built cities, but included cultivated lots and fields occupying the greater proportion of the space. The buildings were of adobe and stone, with very thick walls. Artificial platforms and mounds are common, and tall mounds were found within the area of nearly every building examined. The aboriginal idioms have not entirely disappeared from among the natives of the Peruvian coast. Of ancient creeds and beliefs the practice of witchcraft seems to be the only vestige. Mr. Bandelier