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Excerpt: Excavating the South Charleston mound

"The excavation in the mound was commenced twelve feet square at the top and sunk to the bottom, narrowing as it went down.
    "In a very hard bed of mixed earth and ashes, about four feet from the top, were found two much decayed human skeletons, adult size, lying horizontally on their backs, with their heads to the south; and near the heads were several stone implements.  At a depth of thirty-one feet from the top, a human skeleton was found lying with the head to the north; it had evidently been enclosed in a coffin or wrapping of bark.  A thin sheet of hammered native copper was found in contact with the bones of the skull and had helped to preserve them.  At this point the excavation was opened out to a diameter of about sixteen feet to give a better opportunity of finding and examining whatever might lie at the base of the mound.  This disclosed the fact that the builders, after having first leveled, smoothed and packed the natural surface, covered it with a layer of bark, inner side up, and spread upon this a layer of fine, clear, white ashes, probably several inches thick, though now pressed down to a little more than an inch.  On this bed of ashes the bodies were laid, and probably covered with bark.
    "Examination here brought to light ten other adult skeletons, all extended horizontally, five on each side of the central skeleton, with feet pointing towards, but not quite touching it."

Source: John P. Hale, History of the Great Kanawha Valley (1891).


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