June 21, 2021

Excavations at ground zero of 'El último mohicano' | Culture

Excavations at ground zero of 'El último mohicano' | Culture

The news of the recent appearance of human remains in the real scenarios of The last Mohican It has accelerated the hearts of all of us who have a weakness for James Fenimore Cooper, Uncas, Hawkeye and I will not tell you Madeleine Stowe. Construction work in the Adirondacks region ("porcupine" in Mohawk), northeast of New York, near Lake George, has brought to light scattered bones of the time and the site is being investigated by archaeologists under the address of David Starbuck of the University of Plymouth, according to the magazine Archeology Have we found the bones of the young Mohican son of Chingachgook and the ill-born offspring of his race? With those of his killer the evil ferret Magua, fallen in turn to Hawkeye's long rifle (or the mace of Uncas's father in the great Michael Mann film of 1992 with Daniel Day-Lewis) ?, with those of the father of the girls Cora and Alice, the British colonel Munro, who dies very badly in the film under Magua's knife? It is very unlikely given that the two Indians of Fenimore Cooper are creatures of fiction (although it is true that there was an Uncas was not the novel), and that Munro (Monro), who is a completely real character, survived the events narrated in The last Mohican to die suddenly in the street in Albany from a heart attack, which is not the same as getting your heart pissed off by an Indian. But do not let all that enthusiasm go away. The bones must be someone's.

The siege and capture of Fort William Henry (1757), the fort of the novel and the film, by the French and their Indian allies is a historical fact, as it is, with nuances, the killing after the surrender of the British perpetrated by wild natives. That is to say, that the human remains could belong to some of the soldiers or Indians who participated in that episode of the French and Indian War, as the Americans call it, and that it was a colonial extension in the American continent of the British-French rivalry that led to the Seven Years' War.

The forces of the Marquis of Montcalm, a short guy and somewhat plump but energetic and definitely interesting in the interpretation that he made Patrice Chéreau, no less, got the surrender of Fort William Henry on August 9 after a siege of six days and the be aware the British that no one would come to rescue them and that the French artillery, which was advancing positions, would soon reduce the stockade of the fort to splinters. Munro agreed to capitulate to the honorable and very European conditions (flag, swords, etc.) that Montcalm promised, a whole seigneur; but the Indian allies, to whom booty had been promised, kept their feet changed. That was why when leaving the fort the column of confident British and their families attacked them, without the French being able or willing to temper them. Some sources suggest that the start of the assault was carried out by a contingent of abenakis especially annoying, although in reality they are put to the point of hitting you with an ax so much that the Indians are Abenakis or Iroquois, even if they are Indians.

An image of Fort William Henry rebuilt and converted into a museum, on the shore of Lake George (New York).
An image of Fort William Henry rebuilt and converted into a museum, on the shore of Lake George (New York).

The survivors who were arriving horrified in slow trickle to the neighbor Fort Edward told spooky stories that contributed to the foundational epic of the United States. Somehow, The last Mohican he converted Fort William Henry into the American Troy, with the Priam Munro and his abducted daughters (actually he had two sons and a girl), the betrayal (Magua, the Subtle Fox, would be a Crested Ulysses) and even the Eneas Hawkeye that it would give origin to the new race that would pick up the witness for the dominion of the world. Montcalm remained like a villain ("lacked that moral value without which no man is truly great", writes Fenimore Cooper in his novel: he had to have seen Chereau). Actually, it seems that the Fort William Henry massacre was not so much. Fenimore Cooper describes Indians crashing children against the rocks, women cut to pieces by tomahawk, cruelty and barbarism tremendous, with some Indians who were sinking, he relates, to drink the blood of his victims, and notes that between 500 and 1,500 people died. But modern sources reduce the figure even to only half a hundred.

In the area of ​​Fort William Henry, now a holiday area, excavations were already carried out in the fifties and sixties and interesting things were found such as what was identified with the military cemetery of the fort, numerous skeletons, one significantly decapitated and another (Burial 14) belonging to a Native American, and a skull with a brutal breach that could very well have been triggered by a tomahawk. The fort itself, which had been razed by Montcalm before retiring to Canada, was rebuilt more or less in the same place in the fifties. The new Fort William Henry, a major tourist attraction, suffered a fire in 1967 – of which we can not blame Montcalm because he died, bravely, in the battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759 – but still standing and visitable. For years, some of the skeletons were found, identified as British soldiers, until in 1993 it was decided to reintroduce them.

If we talk about remains related to The last Mohican, we must remember that in the campaign of Montcalm and the siege of Fort William Henry Catalans participated, in the battalion of the Royal Roussillon

It is normal that old human remains appear throughout this area. It has been a historically very busy and battled place and there were also clashes during the US War of Independence. In fact, it is not clear if the remains found now, about a kilometer from Fort William Henry, which appear to be European and correspond to almost a dozen people, belong to the time of the war against the French or the other, a few years later (1775-1783). It may be from one of the many English that Mel Gibson killed in The patriot. Three years ago Starbuck itself excavated an interesting unfinished British fort on the shores of Lake George, Fort George, whose construction was halted by conquering in 1759 the French Fort Carillon, renamed Fort Ticonderoga, and no longer necessary.

If we talk about remains related to The last Mohican, we must remember that in the campaign of Montcalm and the siege of Fort William Henry Catalans participated (of being born before it could have gone!) enrolled in the battalion of the Royal Roussillon regiment that France sent to fight against North America. So, even if we do not have Uncas, maybe we have a handful of compatriots who beat the copper, between Indians and forests, in one of the great adventures of history.


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