A greater portion of objects which constitute American antiquities consist of the architectural and other remains of the handiwork of the aborigines who inhabited the continent before any of the present races appeared here and subjugated or displaced them; also the ruins occasioned by the Spanish
These are chiefly, in Central and South America
, ruined temples, and, in North America
, rude earthworks, now overgrown with venerable forest trees which attest their antiquity.
In connection with those in the more southern regions, there are remains of elaborate carvings and ornamental pottery.
There are many features in common between the temples and other works of art in Mexico
, Central America
, and Peru
The explorations of Stephens
(1840-43) revealed to the world vast remains of cities in Central America
, which were doubtless inhabited at the period of the conquest, 350 years ago. There they found carved monoliths and the remains of highly ornamented temples.
The monoliths at Copan
some antiquaries are disposed to rank, as to use, with those ruder ones at Stonchenge, in England
, and older ones in Arabia
The remains of Aztee art in Mexico
attest the existence of a high degree of civilization there at the period of their structure.
So, also, the ruins of the Temple
of the Sun
, at Cuzco, in Peru
, tell of great advancement in the arts under the empire of the Incas.
These remains occupy a living place on the borders of the historic period, but the mounds in North America
, showing much mathematical skill in their construction and ingenuity in their contents, have hitherto eluded the keen skill of antiquaries, who have sought in vain among prehistoric mysteries for a clew to the origin of the people who fashioned them.