Archaeology.Webster defines archaeology as "The study of antiquities; the study of art, architecture, customs and beliefs of ancient peoples as shown in their monuments, implements, inscriptions, etc."
The term is sometimes used in its narrow sense for the study of the material remains of the historic peoples of antiquity, especially the Greeks, Romans, Babylonians and Egyptians, and sometimes for the general scientific study of prehistoric man, when it is known as prehistoric archaeology or pale&emul;thnology. Holloway's History of Kansas (p. 87) says: "Kansas cannot boast of a remote antiquity. Her soil never becomes the scene of stirring events until of late years. Her level and far-reaching prairies afforded but little temptation to the early adventurer. No ideal gold mines or opulent Indian city were ever located within her boundaries."
While this is true in a general senseso far as human antiquities are concernedthere is abundant evidence to show that Kansas has a remote antiquity along other lines. In prehistoric times southwestern Kansas was the bed of a great inland sea, where dwelt the ichthyosaurus and other gigantic animals, and in Barber county there are beds of petrified shells resembling the shells of the modern oyster. The antiquities of Kansas are therefore confined chiefly to the fossil remains of prehistoric animals, of which fine specimens are to be found in the collections of the University of Kansas and Yale University. Some years ago S. S. Hand found a fossil fish in Hamilton county, which he sent to Chancellor Snow of the state university, who wrote in reply: "My view about your fine fish is, that it lived and died when what is now Hamilton county, more than 3,000 feet above the present level, was under the salt water ocean. Remains of fishes, sharks and great sea monsters are found abundantly in the rocks of western Kansas, especially along the banks of the Smoky Hill river and its branches. In fact, the ocean covered the entire western portion of the United States. The Rocky mountains were not upheaved when your fish lived and died." (See Geology.)
Of the early inhabitants of Kansas, little definite information can be gleaned from the relics these departed races have left behind. Stone mauls, hammers, arrow heads and a few iron implements constitute the greater part of these relics, and the information they impart tells but little of the people who made and used them, or of the period when those people lived. Brower, in his Quivira and Harahey (q. v.) gives an account of his discovery of the sites of a number of ancient villages, and early in 1880 the Scientific American published an article commenting on the report of Judge E. P. West of recent archaeological explorations in Kansas. Says the American: "Judge West presents a large amount of evidence to show that at a remote period that region was peopled by a race with which the mound builders must be accounted modern . . . . Prior to the (glacial) drift epoch the river channels were deeper than now, and the river valleys were lower. Subsequently the valleys were filled by a lacustrine deposit of considerable depth. In or beneath this last deposit the reamins[sic] of an extinct race occur."
The remains mentioned in Judge West's report were found along the line of the Union Pacific railroad in Douglas, Pottawatomie, Riley, Dickinson, Marion, Ellsworth and Lincoln counties, and all with the exception of one on the second bottom or terrace. In digging wells and making other excavations stone implements, pottery, bones and bone implements were found from 20 to 30 feet below the surface. Judge West is inclined to fix the time when this race occupied the region as after the glacial epoch and prior to deposition of the loess. In requesting the newspapers of Kansas to urge the importance of saving such relics and remains when found, he says: "Here we have a buried race enwrapped in a profound and startling mysterya race whose appearance and exit in the world's drama precede stupendous changes marking our continent, and which perhaps required hundreds of thousands of years in their accomplishment. The prize is no less than determining when this mysterious people lived, how they lived, when they passed out of existence, and why they became extinct." (See Lansing Skeleton.)
George J. Remsburg, who has devoted considerable time to the study of the archaeological remains of the Missouri valley, investigated the ruins of a number of Indian villages, etc., and in the Kansas Magazine for June, 1893, published the results of his researches. After mentioning the location and describing several old Indian villages, he says: "One of the richest archaeological finds ever made in Atchison county was at Oak Mills, a small village in the river bottom. Two men were employed in repairing the fence around John Davitz's lot, when they observed several flint implements projecting from a ridge of clay. Investigation revealed the fact that it was an aboriginal burial ground. The remains of several Indians were exhumed, the bones of which crumbled instantly on being exposed. Not even a small fragment of hone could be preserved, except the teeth, which are worn down very short and smooth, indicating that the deceased were of an advanced age, or that they had subsisted on a diet of dry corn or coarse food. The skulls were completely decayed, but the imprint of one of them indicated that it was unusually large. . . . Near the shoulders and breast of each of the skeletons was a pile of flint implements. The large implements were made from common blue chert, while the drills and arrow points are of finer materials and of various colors. . . . Everything about these discoveries goes to show that they are the remains of Indians who occupied this region centuries ago. All external evidence of a burying ground had been obliterated, and had it not been for the heavy rains the discovery would probably not have been made."
Trees of considerable size had been felled upon the site of this old aboriginal cemetery 30 years before the discovery mentioned by Mr. Remsburg, a fact which goes to bear out his statement that the skeletons were those of natives who had lived centuries ago.
Another important archaeological investigation was made by Prof. J. A. Udden of Bethany College in the early '80s, when he examined the mounds south of the Smoky Hill river and found bones of animals, stone implements, sandstone or "hand grindstones," the entire collection numbering some 500 interesting relics. Prof. Udden made a partial report to the Academy of Science in 1886, and subsequently a more complete report was published in the Kansas Historical Collections. The finding of a piece of chain mail (See Coronado) he says "makes it certain that the village was occupied by Indians at least as late as after the discovery of America by Europeans."
Perhaps the most interesting archaeological relic ever found in Kansas is the ruins of a pueblo known as El Quartelejo. Dunbar says that about 1702 "the occupants of the pueblo of Picuries, in northern New Mexico, forsook their village and, resorting to the northeastern plain, established the post later known as El Quartelejo, distant northeast 350 miles from Santa Fe, in the present Scott county, Kan. The explanation of this sudden movement was probably the result of some fanciful or mysterious impulse, from which they were in due time readily dissuaded by the governor of the province, Don Francisco Cuerbo y Valdes, and soon after resumed their forsaken home."
Bancroft, in his history of Arizona and New Mexico (p. 228), says: Capt. Uribarri marched this year (1706) out into the Cibola plains; and at Jicarilla, 37 leagues northeast of Taos, was kindly received by the Apaches, who conducted him to Cuartelejo, of which he took possession, naming the province San Luis and the Indian rancheria Santo Domingo."
The ruins of the old pueblo are in the northern part of the country and were first noticed about 1884. The dimensions are 32 by 50 feet, and the remains of the foundation walls indicate that it was divided into seven rooms, varying in size from 10 by 14 feet to 16 by 18 feet. Prof. S. W. Williston visited these ruins in 1898 and the following January gave a description of them before the Kansas Historical Society, his paper on that occasion appearing in the vol. VI of the Kansas Historical Collections. Handel T. Martin, of the paleontological department of the University of Kansas, who examined the pueblo in connection with Prof. Williston, has published the results of his investigations in an illustrated article in the Kansas University Science Bulletin for Oct., 1909. After remarking that much of the stone has been taken away by the people living in the vicinity, Mr. Handel asks the rather pertinent question: "Would it not be well for the state to preserve at this late day our only known pueblo from further destruction?"Pages 93-95 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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