John Almon.

The American journal of science and arts online

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line as an axis of absciss®.

In fine, the cave-earth is excavated in vertical slices or paral-
lels four feet high, one foot thick, and as long as the chamoer is
broad where this breadth does not exceed 80 feet. Each par-
allel is taken out in levels one foot high, and each level in hori-
zontal prisms three feet long and a foot square in the section, so
that each contains three cubic feet of material.

This material, after being carefully examined in situ by can-
dlelight^ is taken to the doorway and reexamined by daylight,
after which it is at once removed without the cavern. A box is
approi>riated to each yard exclusively, and in it are placed all
the objects of interest which the prism yields. The boxes, each



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378 Exploration of Kent's Cavern^ Devonshire,

having a label containing ilie data necessary for defining the
situati<^ of its contents, are daily sent to the Honorary Secretary
of the committee, by whom the specimens are at once cleaned
and packed in fresh boxea The labels are numbered and pack-
ed with the specimens to which they respectively belong, and a
record of the day*s work is entered in a diary.

The same method is followed in the examination of the black
mould, and also of the stalagmitic breccia, with the single ex-
ception that in these cases the parallels are not divid^ into
levels and yards.

With very rare exceptions the cavern has been visited daily
by one, and frequently by both of the superintendents ; and
monthly reports of progress have been regularly forwarded to
Sir Charles Lyell, the chairman of the committee.

Though it would be premature to attempt anything like an
exhaustive list, it may be of interest to furnish a brief and gen-
eral account of the objects which have been found.

Of the articles met with in the black mould, those occurring
between the fallen masses of limestone have been kept distinct
from such as have been detected beneath them. Such a division,
however, is not rendered necessary by the characters of the ob-
jects themselves, and will not be attended to on the present oc-
casion. In this category also may be placed the greater number
of the specimens found in the talus outside the cavern. The
collection is of a various miscellaneous nature. It consists of
stones of various kinds, human industrial remains, charred
wood, bones of various animals, marine and land shells, and the
broken shells of hazel-nuts. It passes from the rabbit's nest
lined with clean dry fur and containing a couple of fresh green
ivy-leaves, and numberless fragments of wine and porter bottles
flung away by parties who have visited the cavern mainly from
a love of frolic, back to the age of bronze implements and of
flint-flakes, and probably represents from fifteen hundred to two
thousand years.

The stones are in most cases well rounded, and, at least, some
of them are of marine origin, since they are distinctly lithodo-
mized. They consist of limestone, quartz, red grit, greenstone,
and flint ; all except the last derivable from the rocks of the im-
mediate district, and were probably obtained from the neigh-
boring beaches, where also the flints were perhaps found ; for
though there is no flint in situ within five miles, it is a well-
known fact that such pebbles are met with on existing beaches
at much greater distances from any known accumulation of flints
in place. The rounded stones are extremely numerous in the
black mould, and were undoubtedly selected and taken to the
cavern ; but for what purpose it may not be easy to determine.
There are also several pieces of hard greenish-grey grit of an



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Exploration of Kent's Cavern^ Devonshire, 379

elongated form, which were perhaps used as whetstones. An-
gular pieces of slate are also numerous. They are probably
fragments of articles fashioned by man, as occasionally a piece is
met with which is obviously a portion of a curvilineal plate.
Such plates are mentioned by Mr. M'Enery, who supposes them
to have been used as covers for earthenware vessels. The hu-
man industrial remains consist of articles in bronze and in bone,
pottery, spindle-whorls, and flint-flakes. The bronze articles
are a fibula, the bowl and part of the stem of a spoon, a spear
head, a fragment of a socketed celt, two or three rings, one coil
of a helical spring, a pin about 8} inches long, and an object
resembling a horseshoe in form, but not more than an inch long.
In this connection may be mentioned a lump of metal which,
from its general appearance, would be termed copper ore, but
from its interior, a small portion of which has been exposed ac-
cidentally, it is probably native copper, or a mass of metal
which has been smelted. A similar mass mentioned by Mr.
M'Enery, is said to have been analyzed " by Mr. Phillips and
found to be pure virgin ore." Much of the pottery, excepting
one small piece, undoubtedly Samian, is extremely coarse, and
in most cases it is unglazed. A large number of fragments
have been found, but nothing approaching a perfect vessel.
They are generally ornamented, and from the diflterent patterns,
as well as from other facts, it may be concluded that they rep-
resent a considerable number of utensils. One piece probably
formed part of a vessel in which things were burnt, as on its
inner surface there is a firm admixture of clay and small bits
of charcoal. Much of the pottery is without doubt of Eoman
age.

The objects fashioned in bone are a comb, which in size and
outline resembles a common shoe-lifter having teeth cut in the
broad end ; a spoon, neatly formed of a portion of a rib, and
measuring about 6 inches long and VVths of an inch broad ; a
chisel about 2tVths inches in length, and at its broad end y^ths
of an inch in width ; a wedge, somewhat rudely fashioned out
of a born or antler ; two small fragments which appear to be
portions of combs, and one of which bears traces of ornamen-
tation ; and an article about 3 inches long, apparently the han-
dle of some tool.

The spindle- whorls are formed of different materials, such as
Devonian red grit, one of the harder varieties of Triassic sand-
stone (rocks abundant in the neighborhood), a somewhat coarse,
greenish, schistose rock not found near the district, and Eim-
meridge eoal. They differ somewhat in dimensions and in work-
manship ; some bein^ well finished, whilst others are so rough-
ly made as to render it safer perhaps to call them simply " holed
stones." With them may be mentioned a large bead, which ap-



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380 Exploration of Rentes Cavern, Devonshire.

pears to oonsiat of amber or some analogous sabstanee ; and a
small, holed, ellipsoidal fragment of limestone, which was per-
foratcfd probably by some lithodomous moUask.

The flint-flakes are four in number, two of dark and two of
light or white flint, the latter being the best formed. The light
color is more or less superficial, the center being of a dark gray.

The charred wood is very abundant. Some specimens are
undistinguishable from prepared charcoal, whilst others are ob-
viously nothing more tnan partially burnt sticks, some of them
of considerable size.

Bones are extremely numerous. They are more or less dis-
colored, and have lost a considerable portion of their weight

It may be doubted whether the entire elements of any skeleton
have been found lying together. Amongst them there are the
relics of pig, deer, sheep, fox, wolf (?), bat, hare, rabbit, with
smaller rodents, birds, and various kinds of fish. Some of them
appear to have been exposed to the action of fire.

The land shells are principally various kinds of snail, the
larger forms being the most prevalent. They occur in all stages
of growth, and thus render it probable that they had established
a colony in the cavern. Amongst the marine shells are the lim-
pet, whelk, oyster, cockle, mussel, pecten, solen or razor-shell,
and the internal shell of the cuttle-nsh, Sspta officinalis. From
the unrubbed condition of the last, it was probably not found cast
ashore on the beach, but taken directly rrom the cephalopod to
which it belonged.

The source of the shells of hazel-nuts is not far to seek.
They were no doubt obtained from the wood in which the cav-
ern is situated, and were perhaps carried in by small animals
whose homes were under the fallen masses of limestone where
the shells were found. Most of them are perforated at one end.

In passing below the black mould we first encounter the sta-
lagmitic breccia. This the workmen carefully break into small
fragments, in order to detect any articles of interest imbedded
in It. The search, though not very productive; has not been
quite fruitless. In the breccia have been found charred wood,
marine and land shells, and bones of various animals, some of
which perhaps are extinct

Immediately beneath this cake we enter the red cave-loam, and
at once find ourselves amongst the relics of several species of
extinct animals. The only differences in the four successive
levels in which, as already stated, the red loam is taken out are
simply that the first or uppermost is the poorest, and the third,
perhaps, the richest in osseous remains; and that the three
lower levels contain a large amount of minutely comminuted
bone, of which there are very few instances in the uppermost
foot In other respects the levels are the same— everywhere the



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Exploration of Kenfs Cavern, Devonshire. 381

same in the materials which form the staple of the deposit; in
the occurrence of pebbles of varioas kinds of rock, which differ
from those in the overlying black mould only in being less nu*
merous; in the presence of bones in the same condition and rep-
resenting the same species of animals ; and in yielding ^' flint
implements " of the same types. It will not be necessary, there-
fore, to describe each level separately or in detail.

The bones found below the stalagmite are heavier than those
met with above it This distinction is so well marked and so
constant ajsto be characteristic. It would be easy to assign
them to their respective deposits by their specific weights alone.
Most of those from the red loam are but little discolored, indeed
some of them are of chalk-like whiteness. A few, however, oc-
cur here and there which have undergone a considerable amount
of discoloration, a consequence, probably, and also a proof of a
greater degree of exposure before their inhumation. On most
of the latter, certain lines and patches of lighter color not unfre-
quentlj present themselves, which may be likened to such as
are sometimes left by mosses or lichens on objects of which
they have grown.

A large number of bones, including jaws, teeth, and horns,
are scored with teeth-marks, clearly the work of animals of dif-
ferent kinds. Some of the long bones are split longitudinally.
Many appear to have been rolled, including most of those which
have been gnawed; and in the case of the latter, it is tolerably
obvious that the rolling was subsequent to the gnawing. Some
of those found beneath the large masses of fallen^ limestone are
in a crushed condition, and thus apparently attest the fact that
the deposit on which they lav, and on which the blocks fell, was
of compact nature, and capable of firm resistance.

The minutely comminuted bone already spoken of, is com-
monly found converted with loam and stones into a firm breccia.
Not unfrequently, however, it occupies the hollow cavities of
some of the larger bones. With it there sometimes occurs a
cream-colored substance, which in a few instances has been met
also in the form of small detached lumps having a low specific
gravity. This, as well as some of the comminuted bone^ has
been supposed to be of faecal origin.

In cleaning the bones it is frequently found to be impossible
to remove entirely the earthy matter from them. They are at
least partially invested with a thin film, which defies the brush
and water. On drying, however, this matter commonly scales
off, and proves to be a paste or paint composed of loam and car-
bonate of lime, the latter probably derived from drip from the
roof.

Large portions of the osseous remains occur in the forms of
fragments and mere splinters. The identifiable parts are chiefly

▲m. Joux. Sci.— Secoms Sbxies, Vox*. XLIII, No. 189.— Mat, 1867.
49

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382 Exploration of Kent's Cavern, Devonshire.

teeth, which are extremely namerous. Amongst the Mammals
represented, there are certainly the Cave-bear, Cave-lion, Cave-
hysena. Fox, Horse (probably more than one species), Ox, seve-
ral species of Deer, the tichorhine Rhinoceros, and Mammoth.
Bemains of the Hyaena are probably the most abundan't, after
which come those of Rhinoceros and Horse. The relics of the
Mammoths (both molars and tusks) are those of very young in-
dividuals.

It has already been hinted that ''flint implements" occur
everywhere in the cave-earth mixed up with the remains of ex-
tinct Mammals. Several of them were found in the presence of,
and some of them by, the superintendents. Like the bones,
they are at least abundant in the uppermost foot^ and occur in
greatest numbers in the lowest zones. Altogether, and without
reckoning doubtful specimens and numerous chips, nearly thirty
"implements" have been dug out. Though the designation of
*' flint " is given to all, some of them are perhaps of chert. Of
the flints properly so called, some are of a dark, and others of a
light-grey color, whilst a third kind are almost white, and have
a porcellanous aspect. With the exception of three, they are
all of the kinds known as flakes — fiat on one side, and more or
less carinated on the other. Some of them are fragments only,
others were found broken in the deposit with the parts lying in
contact, whilst others again are perfect. Some of the broken
specimens of the white variety snow that they are not of this
color throughout their entire mass, but have a dark central axis
or core. Th^ flakes agree in character with those in the black
overlying mould. The excepted three are of chert, and are
worked on both sides. They were found in the second, third,
and fourth levels ; one in each. That from the second foot is
about 4f inches long, and, where widest, 2^ broad. At one end
it tapers to a point, and narrows to no more than f of an inch
at the other. In outline it is rudelv a segment of a curvilineal
figure, and is slightly falciform. The inner or concave margin
is the cutting edge. Unfortunately the tip of the pointed end
was broken oflf after exhumation. Those from the third and
fourth levels are more highly wrought "implements." They
are worked to an ed^e around the entire perimeter. In outline
they are rather ovoid than elliptical, being narrower at one end
than at the other. That from the third foot measures 4^ inches in
length, and its greatest breadth and thickness are respectively
3^ inches and f of an inch. That found in l^e fourth zone, the
lowest yet reached, is the most elaborately finished " implement"
of the series . It is lighter in color and somewhat smaller than
the preceding two, its dimensions being 8i inches long, 2^ broad,
and f in thickness.

Without intending at present to enter on the consideration of



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Exploration of Kent's Cavern^ Devonshire. 383

all the bearings of the entire evidence produced, the committee
feel at liberty to express their conviction that it is totally impos-
sible to doubt either the human origin of the " implements," or
their inosculation, in undisturbed soil, with the remains of the
Mammoth, the Cave-bear, and their extinct contemporaries.

Nor are these the only indications of human existence found
in the cave-earth. Several small pieces of burnt bone have been
met with in the red loam, some of them loose and detached,
others of small size and incorporated in the breccia composed of
loam, stones, and comminuted bone.

Mention has been made already of the occurrence in the cave-
earth of rounded stones not derivable fix>m the limestone hill in
which the cavern is situated. It seems probable that at least
some of them were selected and taken there by man ; though it
may not be easy, perhaps, to determine in all cases for what
purpose. But, waiving this point, there are two stones which
must not be hastily dismissea. The first of them is 4| inches
long, and something less than one inch square in the section.
It is a mass of hard purplish-grey grit, and is undoubtedlv a
whetstone, or rather a portion of ona It was found in the nrst
level of the cave-earth, in a small recess or cavity in the north-
ern wall of the chamber, immediately beneath a projecting stra-
tum of limestone in situ. In this cavity the stone stood with its
longest axis vertical. The superintendents were yinclined to
the opinion that it had slipped through a hole into the cavity at
a comparatively recent date ; and they diligently set to work to
find the means of its ingress. Here, however, they were com-
pletely foiled. There was no hole or passage, vertical or lateral,
by which the cavity could have been entered. Not only, as has
been said, was there a thick stratum of limestone in situ imme-
diately over the recess, but over this again, as well as over the
red loam, there was a thick compact mass of stalagmitic breccia,
consisting of large and small pieces of limestone firmly cement-
ed, and having a height of fully eight feet ; the whole of which
was removed before the cavity was disclosed or its existence sus-
pected.

The second stone is a rude flattened spheroid, formed from a
pebble of coarse, hard, red sandstone, and apparently used for
breaking or crushing. Its diameters measure 2f and If inches.
It was found in the second level of the red cave-earth, over
which lay an enormous block of limestone, but no stalagmite.

In addition to the pleasure which always attends scientific dis-
covery, the committee have had the gratification of confirming
most of the statements of their predecessors. Any differences
observable between the statements now made and those of the
earlier investigators arise from defective, not conflicting evidence.
For example, the committee have not yet been so fortunate as



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864 C V. Shepard on the Cohahuila Meteoric Iron.

to find the remains of Machairodue latidens, mentioned and fig-
ured by Mr. M'Enery,* nor of Hippotamus major, alluded to by
Prof. Owenf as occurring in tbe cavern ; nor have they found
anything in the least degree calculated to bring the statements
alluded to into discredit. Again, so far as their researches have
^one, the committee have not, like Mr. Crodwin-Austen, found
me bones of man mixed up, in undisturbed soil, with those of
extinct animals ;j: it will be seen, however, that there is no (i
priori improbability in the statement of the distinguished geolo-
gist just mentioned; and the committee would remind such as
may be disposed to attach importance to the fact that men's
bones are not forthcoming as readily as their implements, that
in the black mould, as well as in the red loam of the cavern, the
only indication of man^s existence are remnants of his handi*
work. Pottery, implements and ornaments in bone, metal, and
stone, the remnants of his fires, and the relics of his feasts are
numerous, and betoken the lapse of at least two milleniums ;
but here, as well as in the older deposits below, the committee
have met with no vestige of his osseous system.

In conclusion, the committee would observe that the value of
their labors is not to be measured by the discoveries, or rather
the rediscoveries, which they have made. They have not only
disinterred a valuable body of fact, but with it a confirmation
of the concurrent statements of M'Enery, Godwin-Austen, and
the committee of the Torquay Katural History Society ; and
have therebv more than doubled the amount of trustworthy ev*
idence which they have themselves produced.



Aet. XLV. — Additional Notice of the CoJiahuila Meteoric Iron ; by
Chables Upham Shepabd.

Prof. F. Shephebd having put me in conmiunication with
aj. E. M. Hamilton, in reference to the locality of Bonanzai
New Mexico, I have derived from this persevering explorer sev-
eral interesting particulars concerning these extraordinary masses
that appear worthy of publicity.

Major Hamilton states that Bonanza is about thirty or forty
miles north of Santa Rosa, but much farther to the west. Resi-
dents of the vicinity told him, it had only once before been vis-
ited by any traveller, and this was fifteen years ago, when an
Englishman bad been deputed thither in an official capacity, to
determine whether the iron could be applied to any useful pur-

* Oavem Reaearches, p. 82, aod plate F. (8to editioo).

t British Foflail Mammals aod Birds, p. 410 (1846).

I Trans. GeoL Soc., Second Series. toI. ri, part 2, pp. 444 <fc 446.



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C. U. Shepard on the Cokahuila Meteoric Iron. 385

p06e« He reported it as having no valae, for the reason that it
would cost more to divide the masses, sufficiently to fit them for
transportation, than the metal was worth.

Major Hamilton saw thirteen pieces, twelve of which had
never been removed, and one small mass of about seventy-five
pounds, that had been carried to the village of Santa Bosa. The
area within which the twelve masses lie, is between one and two
miles in diameter.

The largest mass projects two, or two and a half feet above
the ground, and Is some three feet long, and a little less in width.
How far it is buried in the earth is unknown. Their surfaces
are all smooth, without offering any projecting points. They
are quite black and entirely free from rust In shape, they are
more or less spherical, and much resemble the time-worn bould-
ers in the beds of rivers. Some of the smaller of them, are es-
timated to weigh between two and three thousand pounds.

Major Hamilton thinks it might be possible to cut off pieces
of a lew pounds weight, provided suitable tools for the purpose
ooold bejproeured, though the operation would be attended with
much difficulty.

The smaller masses might be transported across the Bio Grand
into the United States, at an expense of fifteen hundred dollars
each. The Mexican authorities would have no objections to
their removal as they attach no value whatever to them.

Analysis, — The fragment analyzed by me, weighed 6'01 grm.,
and had a specific gravity of 7*825.

Its solution in hydrochloric acid, gave no indication of the
presence of sulphur. The Rhabdite crystals, which in micro-
scopic needle-points were quite abundant in the cold solution,
gradually disappeared on the addition of nitric acid, leaving
only a very minute quantity of a white granular powder, sup-
posed to be silicate of magnesia. It amounted to only 0001
per-oent The composition of the mass was.

Iron, 97-900

Nickel, with traces of chromuim, cobalt, mag- ) o.ioo
nesium and phosphorus, )

The phosphorus, as determined upon seven gram, of the per-
oxyd of iron precipitate, was less than eight parts in lO'uOO.
No search was made for tin or copper.

As I have not yet been able to procure a polished slice of the
iron, I can add nothing concerning the Widman figures. If they
exist, they will be extremely fine, and probably resemble those
of the Braunau iron.

Amhent, March 20, 1867.



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386 Scientific Intelligence.

SCIENTIFIC INTELLIGENCE.

I. CHEMISTRY AND PHYSICS.

1. On the conversion of dynamical into electrical force without the aid
of permanent magnetism, — The magneto-electric machine of Mr. Wilde
has been briefly described in a former notice. A modification of this
apparatus which possesses much tb'eoretic interest has been contrived
by the brothers W. and C. W. Siemens, and at about the same time and
independently by Wheatstone. In these machines the steel magnets of
the generating or primary magneto-electric machine are replaced by
electro-magnets. The electro-magnets are first charged by a galvanic
battery or other rheomotor, the armature is then caused to rotate, and
the battery is removed, when the magnetic action continues to accumu-
late without its aid. Listead of employing a battery the soft iron of the
electro-magnet may be touched by a permanent magnet In practice
this is not necessary, as the residual magnetism of the iron is suflScient.
In Wheatstone's apparatus the wires covering the electro-magnets and
those surrounding the armature are connected, so that the current, which,
is made to move in one direction, acts upon the electro-magnet in such a



Online LibraryJohn AlmonThe American journal of science and arts → online text (page 44 of 102)