Smithsonian Scientists Describe Large Skeletons with Double Rows of Teeth from a Burial Mound on Amelia Island, Florida

Smithsonian Scientists Describe Large Skeletons with Double Rows of Teeth from a Burial Mound on Amelia Island, Florida





"Crania found in this mound appears to differ somewhat from that of the present Indians."


Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution 1874
Antiquities of Florida, by Augustus Mitchell, M.D., of St. Mary’s, Georgia 

     While in the South during the winter of 1848, pursuing the study and collecting specimens of ornithology, I was impelled by curiosity to examine a mound of moderate size situated on the southern portion of Amelia Island, Florida, being kindly furnished with colored laborers, and aided by Dr. R. Harrison.
This mound was about 15 feet in height, and 30 feet in diameter at the base, flattened and worn by attrition for ages; there having been two growths of live oak upon it, as stated by an old Spanish inhabitant of the place. The soil composing the mound was of a light sandy, yellowish loam.
We commenced the examination by cutting a trench 4 feet wide directly through the center, from the apex to the base, and then another trench at right angles to the former. The excavation revealed a number of relics, and the mode of burial of the mound builders. They must have commenced by digging into the surface of the ground about 2 feet, then, partially filling the excavation with oyster shells, they placed their dead on these in a sitting posture, their legs bent under them, with their faces to the east, and their arms crossed upon the breast, and next spread over them a stratum of earth…
The confirmation of the crania found in this mound appears to differ somewhat from that of the present Indians…
The teeth of many crania of this mound were, without exceptions, in a perfect state of preservation, the vitrified enamel of these organs being capable of resisting exposure for centuries… Not one carious tooth was found among the hundreds in the mound. Many were entire in the lower jaw, the whole compactly and firmly set. In some the second set was observed, while one jaw had evident signs of a third set, a nucleus of a tooth being seen beneath the neck of a tooth of a very old jaw…
Pursuing my investigations, and excavating farther toward the southeast face of the mound, I came upon the largest sized stone ax I have ever seen or that had ever been found in that section of the country. Close to it was the largest and most perfect cranium of the mound, not crushed by pressure of the earth, complete in its form, quite dry, and no sand in its cavity… contiguous to this was nearly a quart of red ochre, and quite the same quantity of what seemed to be pulverized charcoal, as materials of war paint. Anticipating a perfect specimen in this skull, I was doomed to disappointment, for, after taking it out of the earth and setting it up so that I could view the fleshless face of this gigantic savage, in the space of two hours it crumbled to pieces, except small portions. According to the measurements of the bones of this skeleton its height must have been quite seven feet.

Coal was freely diffused throughout the mound, which contained but little pottery. Two stone hatchets were found, and a small stone ax, in addition to the large one described. This instrument bore evident marks of fire.
There is one large mound around on the eastern end of Amelia Island, Florida, and two mounds on the central portion of Cumberland Island, Georgia, likewise, most of the Islands on that coast, from which could be obtained large collections of materials for the advancement of ethnological science.”