Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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OORT, Piet Van (ort), Dutch adventurer, born in Dordrecht about 1615; died in the province of Minas Geraes, Brazil, in 1663. He was a soldier and served in the Brazilian expedition of the Prince of Nassau-Siegen (q. v.), but deserted, lived with an Indian tribe for several years, and acquired a perfect knowledge of their language. On his return to Guiana he was employed as interpreter, but, having learned from the Indians that gold existed in the Amazon valley, he set out in 1652 with two companions and ascended the Amazon for several hundred miles to a place that an old Indian hunter had told him was rich in gold. He found little of that metal, but several petrified bodies, for whose peculiar form and features he was unable to account. He was afterward employed as interpreter by the Portuguese in the province of Minas Geraes, where he died. Nothing more was thought at that time of Van Oort's discovery, although later several authors mentioned it as a curiosity; but the modern anthropological science has given it due credit, and the fossil deposit that was found in 1867 in the Amazon valley by the American expedition is probably the same as the one that was discovered by Van Oort.
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