Archaeotrek—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, August 2014
The Truth About Giant Skeletons in American Indian Mounds—Part 2
by: Dr. Greg Little
The book’s Foreword and an extensive, 2-part Afterword were written by Andrew Collins. The book details an assessment of the Smithsonian’s 1800’s Mound Survey Project wherein they described the excavation of 17 large skeletons ranging in height from 7 to 8 feet from Native American mounds. In addition, the book documents several other large skeletons found in several other archaeological excavations into mounds. The initial article focused on general findings but was reposted on numerous other websites without permission. However, when the article was copied and pasted, portions of my actual article were then highlighted and emphasized by colored fonts by others on several of these sites. One blogger, Jason Colavito, commented on the sections of the article that had been highlighted by others in their repostings, but he didn’t take the time to find the original article. Part 1 also looked at several explanations of the “giants” put out by self-proclaimed skeptics—but those skeptics are not archaeologists—they are simply bloggers selling their own books.
There is no easy explanation for the huge skeletons found in American mounds. In the “Path of Souls” book there are several sections examining a statement made to me by an archaeologist after I showed him a photo and illustration (of a 7’ 1” skeleton) from a book by Don Dragoo. Dragoo excavated the Cresap Mound for the Carnegie Museum. After showing him the photo, the archaeologist stated, “There were some tall people then just as there are now.” That’s true of course, but the Hopewell averaged about 5’ 6” in height. Today, humans average 5” 9”. And only one of every 146,000 people reaches 7 feet. In order to find the 17 reported by the Smithsonian, they would have had to excavate 2.5 million skeletons. In actuality, they excavated less than 10,000 skeletons in their 1800’s Mound Survey Project—the project that found the 17 tall ones. Even American archaeologists have called skeletal remains found in Peru “giants”—and those giants were only 6 feet tall. There is a real genuine mystery here that has no current explanation.
A few bloggers have tried to make the topic go away by making pseudoscientific assertions that defy logic. One blogger, Jason Colavito, has bizarrely stated that buried bones increase in size and length over time because of freezing and thawing, but archaeological publications reveal that buried bones under such conditions simply shatter. In addition, it is known in archaeology that calcium gradually leaches from buried bone. While this increases the porous nature of bones, calcium is not only lost from the interior of bone, but also on the exterior layer of bones. In addition, various soil conditions, chemicals, bacteria, fungus, and mites tend to gradually eat away at buried bone. The “diagenesis” of buried bone is a complex field but many studies make it clear that buried bone tends to degrade over time (Beisaw, 1996; Waldron, 1987). Research has shown that small bones, such as those from children and the fingers and small bones from adults are actually unusual to find in their complete form because bone deteriorates. The idea that bones become gigantic over time, as proposed by a blogger, is simply preposterous and utter claptrap. Not a single actual mainstream archaeologist has made such a claim with respect to the skeletons recovered by the Smithsonian and the other archaeologists who excavated large skeletal remains. But it’s clear that a small group of people want to believe it and make the topic disappear.
Taking this illogical and inaccurate idea to its logical conclusion, it seems that the few people making this (ever-increasing bone size) claim might believe that the “large” dinosaurs were actually quite small when they were alive, perhaps the size of a house cat. After being in the ground for 65 million years or so these small bones became gigantic. It’s difficult to fathom how anyone could believe such nonsense.
In truth, the “freezing” and ever-expanding and ever-lengthening bone claim made by bloggers and their few supporters is not even relevant with the skeletons found in mounds. Research conducted last year (after the coldest and harshest winter in decades) has shown that the depth of frozen ground in states like Illinois and Indiana reached around 3 to 8 inches. Historical records indicate that the maximum depth of frozen ground in northern states with mounds very rarely reaches 30 inches, which was the maximum depth historically recorded. In the Smithsonian reports as well as the others detailing the discovery of large skeletons, the states where the giant skeletons were excavated included West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia. The southern states rarely see ground frozen more than a few inches. In addition, nearly all of the giant skeletons we documented in the book were found buried in deep tombs located some 20 to 30 feet below the surface—where freezing wouldn’t occur. None of the excavators who dug out the skeletons even reported that the ground in the tombs was wet!
In addition, there is not a single case where one of the old newspaper reports about the so-called giant skeletons was found to be a misidentified mastodon or mammoth bone, which has been a feeble attempt by a blogger to avoid the facts. In essence, there have been far more very large skeletons found entombed in Native American mounds than can possibly explained by chance. The elite were buried in these elaborate tombs. The elite were the priests and chiefs of the mound-builder cultures, and they held the secrets to the death journey. The mystery of the huge skeletons is related to the elite and the death journey beliefs.
Andrew Collins’ Cygnus Alignment Theory
In 2004, Andrew Collins visited a host of mound sites in Ohio with my wife and I. During the site visits, he became convinced that several American mounds and earthworks were aligned to Cygnus and were used in death rituals intended to send souls of the dead to the Path of Souls—the Milky Way. Collins’ 2006 book, “The Cygnus Mystery,” described the Ohio mound alignments, but also noted alignments to Cygnus at Turkey’s Gobekli Tepe, England’s Avebury, Ireland’s Newgrange, and various sites in Central and South America. However, the most contentious finding Collins made was that the three pyramids at Giza were built to mimic the three cross stars of Cygnus—not Orion’s Belt.
Mississippian Iconography Conferences at Texas State University
In 2006 a former excavation archaeologist handed me a 2004 book entitled, “Hero, Hawk, and Open Hand.” As explained in “Path of Souls,” I was astonished to read that mainstream archaeologists had determined that the constellations of Orion and Cygnus were not only displayed on artifacts excavated from mounds, but also that the two constellations were the key spots in the sky where dead souls transitioned to the sky world and eventually made their way to the land of their ancestors. I soon found that starting in 1993, archaeologists gathered annually at Texas State University in a sustained effort to unravel the mystery of the symbols—symbols referred to now as part of the Mississippian mound-building era’s iconography. They performed a series of statistical analyses as well as carefully reviewing ethnological reports from the 1800s and 1900s. Starting in 2007 they began issuing books on their findings, all of which have been published by major university presses. To date, at least 9 books, with 24 archaeologists contributing to them, have come out along with numerous journal articles directly addressing the Mississippian iconography and the meanings of the symbols. Simultaneously, archaeologists in Ohio, including Bradley Lepper (head of Ohio archaeology) and William Romain, began describing Ohio’s geometric earthworks as earthen machines, ritual pathways, and other such terms. In the late 1980s, I began calling these earthworks “magic machines of earth” in various publications and then in several books published in 1990, 1994, and 2000. The Ohio archaeologists now view the geometric earthworks as devices utilized, at least in part, as a means of assisting dead to souls to the sky.
The Death Journey
In brief, what the archaeologists have surmised is that a few days after death, souls must make a leap to the sky, aiming at a constellation known as the “Hand.” It is formed by the three belt stars of Orion and the leap can only be done in the winter months and only just before dawn. The actual focal point of the leap is to Orion’s Nebula, which served as an “ogee”—a portal to the Milky Way. If the soul makes a successful leap, the soul then moves to the Milky Way where it journeys toward the Dark Rift, where the Milky Way splits. At that point, souls encounter a judgment made by a creature usually depicted as a large raptor bird. It is called an “Adversary.” The Adversary is located at the star Deneb, the top star of the Cygnus Constellation. The Adversary is formed by the constellation of Cygnus. If the soul passes the various tests it is given there, it then moves through the sky dome into the realm of the ancestors. It is a remarkable tale that involves a host of other elements, but the role of Orion, The Milky Way, and Cygnus are clear. The constellation of Scorpius, the ruler of the underworld, is also an integral part of the journey as is the possibility of falling into the underworld, being reincarnated, or being literally obliterated. The overall idea is an exceedingly complex and rich set of beliefs involving many different tasks, tests, judgments, and adventures.
Explaining the Cygnus-Orion Controversy in Egypt
When Andrew Collins wrote in 2004 that the pyramids at Giza fit the three cross stars of Cygnus better than did the Belt of Orion, it ignited a huge controversy. As detailed in the new book, I was never satisfied with the simplistic idea that Orion explained everything. I also saw that a trickster element was present. As I wrote in the Path of Souls, there was a reason why the beliefs about death were kept secret by the Egyptians and Native Americans. And it’s likely that a trickster was smiling when so many people accepted that Orion explained everything about Egypt’s Giza pyramids.
It has been generally accepted that Orion was targeted by one shaft in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid, but the fact that Orion didn’t actually fit onto the pyramids—but Cygnus did—created a sense that all wasn’t known yet. At this point I suspect that the Egyptians had ideas about death similar to ancient Native American mound builders. I believe that the Egyptian saw Cygnus and Orion as both integral to their journey after death.
The Source of the Death Journey Ideas?
Perhaps the biggest questions we are left to ponder are where, when, and how did these curious ideas emerge? And who were the people who developed this idea? As to when the ideas developed, it seems likely that the idea emerged at least 16,500 years ago when Deneb was the star nearest the North celestial pole. That is thoroughly explained in the book. As to where and how the ideas developed, I don’t know and I haven’t speculated on it. I do know that the ancestors of the Native Americans, of which I share some blood, built the mounds and had these ideas from a very ancient time. However, Andrew Collins did attempt to unravel the mystery in a two-part Afterword to the book. The fact that so many elite individuals, who were exceedingly tall, were buried prominently in mounds is a clue to their identity and origin.