Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Strange Ancient Mummified Remains in Kentucky Caves

Strange Ancient Mummified Remains in Kentucky Caves


The actual drawing of a female's mummified remains found in a cave at Lexington, Kentucky

Smithsonian Contribution to Knowledge, 1890
   When Kentucky was first explored, great numbers of human bodies are said to have been found in a state of preservation in a cave near Lexington.  As the pioneers did not appear to attach much importance to antiquities, these bodies were not preserved. The bodies found in the saltpeter cave in Kentucky are said to have been considerably smaller than the men of our times; and their teeth are described as long, white, and sharp, and separated by considerable intervals. Mr. Caleb Atwater quotes Mr. Clifford of Lexington, Kentucky, to the effect that the mummies were generally found enveloped in three coverings; the first a species of coarse linen cloth of about the consistency and texture of cotton bagging; the second a kind of network of coarse threads formed of very small, loose meshes, in which were fixed the feathers of various kinds of birds, lying all in one direction, so as to make a perfectly smooth surface; the third and outer envelope either like the first or consisting of skins sewed together 



Only known photo of one of the mummies removed from the caves at Lexington.

Mr. Charles Wilkins, in 1817, recorded the following facts with reference to an excavated body discovered in a saltpetre cave in Warren County, Kentucky: “ It was found at the depth of about ten feet from the surface of the cave. bedded in clay, strongly impregnated with nitre, placed in a sitting posture, encased in broad stones standing on their edges, with a flat stone covering the whole. It was enveloped in coarse clothes, the whole wrapped in deer-skins, the hair of which was shaved off in the manner in which the Indians prepare them for market. Inclosed in the stone coffin was working utensils, beads, feathers, and other ornaments of dress. This observation is important, for it establishes the fact that the mode of burial practiced in the case of this so-called mummy was similar to that in use along the banks of the Cumberland and other streams of Tennessee and Kentucky; and we are justified in the conclusion that the bodies deposited in the stone graves were arrayed in dresses similar to those in which the excavated bodies in the saltpetre caves were inclosed. The latter were preserved from decay, undoubtedly, by the saltpetre and lime salts and the drier atmosphere of the caves. In the numerous stone graves which I have opened, traces of the garments which originally surrounded the bodies could be discerned in only one of the most perfectly constructed stone cofiins.


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