THE MANY mounds, forts, cave shelters, and burial fields in Kentucky show that the prehistoric population must have been fairly large for savages. It was diverse in culture and probably had many separate origins.
Aboriginal remains are found in every county in the State. The eastern mound area covers the heart of the Bluegrass region and extends northeastward to the Ohio River. This fertile and well watered land was heavily timbered in prehistoric times. It is characterized archeologically by the great number and large size of its Indian mounds, many of them associated with village sites, and by other structures which have been called forts. The popular notion that the mound builders were a race differing from the American Indians has no facts to support it. They were doubtless the ancestors of some of the historic Indians.
The mounds were originally of various shapes and sizes but have been altered through weathering and the changes caused by agriculture. This is especially true of mounds which were not high and stand in cultivated fields. With each plowing the earth has been removed from the top and spread out at the base until the original shape has been destroyed. Often the surface for many yards around is strewn with flints, bones, and broken pottery upturned by plow and harrow.
Some of these mounds were constructed centuries ago; others are quite recent. Certain tribes of modern Indians were building mounds when the first whites arrived. Sometimes intrusive burials indicate that later tribes used the mounds after the original builders had disappeared. All mounds were not used for the same purpose -- they were erected for ceremonial or sacrificial purposes, or for the burial of the dead; and some perhaps represent nothing more than the dirt roof of a lodge or the gradual accumulation of camp refuse.
The remains of camp and village sites, usually found in the vicinity of mounds, are often extensive and show long occupancy. The features by which a site is recognized is the sporadic occurrence of broken