20 Colors of Sand Used In a Chillicothe, Ohio's, Largest Burial Mound.

20 Colors of Sand Used In a Chillicothe, Ohio Largest Burial Mound.
The Ancient King Was Wrapped Like an Egyptian Mummy


Sand Painting was found along with a skeleton that had been wrapped in cloth, like a mummy in this large Adena burial mound that was destroyed by the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society.

    The Miller or Carriage Factory mound stands thirty-five feet high and has a diameter at the base of two hundred and twenty-five feet. It has retained its form exceedingly well until within the last five years, during which people have hauled away earth. The west side, at the point of removal, stands about fifteen feet in perpendicular height, and from the edge of the mound to this wall or face it must be nearly fifty-five feet. “On the base line was a streak of decayed wood several inches thick and showing high colors. This seemed to have been pretty generally placed over the base of the mound. Between the center and south tunnel (these were started on the west side and therefore headed east, but we speak of the tunnel to the left of the main one as north, and the other as south tunnels)’ I found casts of poles two to three inches in diameter in the form of a pen or hut. These casts plainly retained the stamp of the bark and showed the knot holes of the saplings. The soil of the base line was now very black, and immediately above it was the heavy line of decayed wood and then the streaked or diamond shaped deposits or dumps of earth. 



Over 20 shades of colored sand were used to cover the wooden hut or tomb of the burial mound.


    I counted about 20 shades of these. There were a few spots of gravel among them. The darkest spots were near the bottom and the lighter ones toward the top. On the whole the mound was of sandy soil and very hard, making digging slow.  We found in the south tunnel, fifteen feet in, a rough sandstone disc. It lay in the decayed wood line. All the, way this peculiar line ran nearly level. Even by candle light we could make out the different colors. “Wednesday, May 12. We pushed the tunnels very rapidly today. Side tunnels were dug. The decay line is very heavy and we can take out large pieces showing eight to ten streaks or different colors. (Figure VII, No. II, shows the base line and streaks in same.) At noon today we struck a place wherein was soft, black earth. After digging into it about a foot we struck the skull of a skeleton, twenty-five feet from the mouth of the north tunnel. Its skull was badly decayed, but upon close examination the pieces of skull were found to be covered with a thin bark like fibre.  Around the next were bone beads and from the shoulder of the left arm to the hand were three or four strings of shell beads numbering over two hundred and made from a kind of small ocean shell. (Figure VII, Nos. 9 and I0 show the beads from this skeleton.) There were bits of the string yet remaining in some of them. Several pieces of mica and several bits of limestone also lay near the remains. The skeleton was headed north, lying upon its back. Around it were evidences of thin wood or bark. Most of the bark and wood lay in a longitudinal direction with the skeleton. This body was wrapped or dressed in some woven fabric of fibre-like consistency next to the skin, for some parts of the skeleton could be lifted up and to them would yet adhere the woven fabric. “Then came a most peculiar thing. There was bandaging of some sort of bark like birch about the body and legs. It extended in many directions like mummy wrapping. The beads and body seemed to be coated with a peculiar plaster cast, very white and to the depth of one-half to three—fourths of an inch. Several of the long bones, humerus, femur and clavicle were taken out whole, while others were fairly preserved. We found some mica fragments around the skeleton. This skeleton lay upon the baseline and there was no evidence of fire about it. No charcoal was discovered. There were no other relics near it.  

    The varied earths, of all colors, have a special significance. It is not to be supposed that these varied shades resulted from a haphazard gathering of earth from about the base of the mound. There are no soils near‘ its base presenting such diversity of colors. There can be but one explanation: that both in the case of Mound No. 43 (opened in 1889) and this one just described, the selection of these “dumps” was intentional. Sand painting is common in the southwest among the Pueblos, to some extent among the Navajos, also in portions of Asia. The brightest colors are used and the designs, executed upon a flat surface, are complicated and symbolic in character. These dumps may not be classed as “paintings,” but that they have some peculiar relation to the mounds themselves, I am convinced. The grouping of various shades so that the contrasts are quite apparent—red next to black or yellow next to grey, or brown next to white—is evidence of the purpose. Instead of stratification, or of altars, or of treasured possessions exhibiting rare material from a distance, or high artistic aptitude in execution are all absent.
   Whether these earths were artificially colored, whether they were brought from a distance of several miles cannot be ascertained. But that they were selected with special reference to their shades is indisputable. Time and pains were both necessary to construct this tumulus. Along with No. 43—some few hundred yards northwest — it stands as unique and peculiar. It is a part of that strange culture of the lower Scioto—a culture which was higher than elsewhere in the Ohio Valley—a culture of great antiquity and possibly one which was affected by southern influences. The fibre covered and wrapped skeleton presents a condition not observed elsewhere so far as I am aware. Skeletons wrapped in coarse cloth, copper wrapped in cloth, have been frequently described. Both the bark and the cloth of fibre should be care fully studied. The weaving of the cloth and the material of which it is composed, the nature of the bark—these are points to be determined in the future.