cover of book

The Mound-Builders
by Henry Shetrone
introduction by Bradley T. Lepper
University of Alabama Press, 2004
Paper: 978-0-8173-5086-4 | eISBN: 978-0-8173-8429-6
Library of Congress Classification E73.S55 2004
Dewey Decimal Classification 977.01


A Dan Josselyn Memorial Publication

A classic resource on early knowledge of prehistoric mounds and the peoples who constructed them in the eastern United States.

With this accessible volume, Henry Clyde Shetrone made available to general readers the archaeological research data and conclusions concerning the ancient mounds and earthworks that dot the landscape of eastern North America. Dismissing popularly held theories of mysterious giants who built these structures, he explained that their purposes were defensive and ceremonial, that they had been used for habitation, burial, and worship. Their builders were antecedents of the native peoples of present-day America and had been skilled artisans and engineers with successful agricultural practices and structured leadership.

Twenty chapters discuss aspects of mound-builder cultures: quarrying of flint and obsidian for knapping into points; mining of copper and iron and its fashioning into tools and ceremonial objects; spinning and weaving materials and methods; smoking customs; carving of calumets and their use in ceremony; freshwater pearls and other items for body ornamentation; and the use of stone burial vaults, cremation basins, and concepts of an afterlife. Data is presented from excavations ranging broadly from Massachusetts to Florida and from Texas to North Dakota.

As Bradley Lepper points out in his new introduction, "The Mound-Builders is a testament to Shetrone's success at working towards 'correlation and systematization' of data, as well as public education. . . . Shetrone was no armchair popularizer. His work was based on years of excavation and first-hand familiarity with much of the data. His popularizations [still] echo with the ring of the shovel and trowel in gravelly soil."


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