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Allatoona Mountains . . . a surprising origin for the word

Allatoona Mountains . . . a surprising origin for the word

The Allatoona Mountains are within the Georgia Gold Belt in Cherokee, Cobb and Bartow Counties. 

The Upper Etowah River flows through the Allatoona Mountains just before it reaches a broad flood plain in the Great Appalachian Valley, where Etowah Mounds is located.  The Allatoona Mountains contains hundred of stone cairns, while most of the summits originally had stone circles on them.  Most of the stone circles have been vandalized, but the rocks can be seen scattered immediately below on the mountain crests. 

The origin of the word, Allatoona, has remained a mystery for two centuries.  Neither the Creek nor the Cherokee Peoples claim the word as theirs, although local white historians typically describe the word Allatoona as “a Cherokee word of unknown meaning.”   For 14 years, I have tried to translate the word, using the mathematics of statistics applied to Muskogee, Miccosukee (Itsate Creek), Panoan, Itza Maya, Cherokee and Arawak dictionaries, but to no avail.

After realizing that most of the petroglyphs in the Georgia Gold Belt can also be found at Bronze Age sites in southwest Ireland, Dundee, Scotland,  southern Sweden and eastern Denmark, I broadened my linguistic research to archaic languages in Ireland, Scotland, Sweden and Denmark . . . as improbable as it may have seemed.  The fact is that all but two of the petroglyphs at Track Rock Gap, GA can be found among the petroglyphs at Nyköping, Sweden (c. 2000 BC). See the five Petroglyph videos on POOF’s Youtube Channel. Astonishingly,  there are words in Algonquian, Uchee, Muskogee and Cherokee spoken today that have the same meaning in contemporary Irish Gaelic or in some cases, archaic dialectic words spoken in southwest Ireland and formerly on the Atlantic Coast of France.

The Alekmani Tribe was located at the mouth of the Altamaha River and in Habersham County, GA in the Upper Savannah River Basin.  It became wealthy from the trade of valuable herbal medicines, such as quinine, plus gold.  The commander of Fort Caroline, Captain René de Laudonnière, stated in his memoir that Alekmani meant “Medicine People.”   Alek Mani in Gamla Svenska (Archaic Swedish) means “Medicine People.”  Alek appears to be a Bronze Age or Sami word absorbed into Germanic Swedish, but not Germanic Danish or Norwegian.  It does not appear to be a Gamla Norsk or Viking word.   It is a no-brainer.

So we have a precedent of Gamla Svenska words being in the indigenous Southeast.   When one plugs Alla tuna into Gamla Svenska, one gets “All the low mountains” or “All the mountaintop/hilltop fortified towns.”  It appears to have been a Bronze Age name for a province that included the Upper Etowah River Basin and its surrounding mountains that was absorbed into the Muskogean languages.  Allatoona does not appear to have any meaning in Muskogee or Itsate, other than being a proper noun.  Other than a renegade band, led by Sour Mush that settled on Long Swamp Creek near Nelson, GA during the American Revolution, the Cherokees did not arrive in the region until the mid-1790s.

Hundreds of stone cairns, mounds, circles & walls survive in the Upper Etowah River Basin of Dawson, Cherokee, Cobb, Bartow & Pickens Counties.


Interestingly enough,  Alla tuna, would have the same meaning in Archaic Anglisk, Saxonisk and Jutesk . . . the progenitors of Anglo-Saxon English, except that the English word was ton (singular) and tona (plural).  Tun/tun originally meant a small mountain or a large hill.  The Scandinavian and Anglisk word for a large mountain was either berg or fjell.    During the Bronze and and Iron Ages, it was common in the British Isles, southern Scandinavia and Gaul for fortified towns to be built on large hills.   Thus, ton eventually came to mean any fortified town . . . and is written as town in modern English.  Ton also became the last syllable of many English names, such as Thornton and Brockton.

Now you know!


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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    Richard, There you go again!! Mani Thanks!! I have been trying to find the root of the sound “Tu” for awhile used for locations in both Mexico, the South and did you know of a city called Tulla (means hill) in Western Ireland? Another bronze age connecting word used on both sides of the Atlantic. Also I would say a third of the towns in that Western part of Ireland start with “Ki”. (Ani-Ki-Tu-wah) a Alabama Nation word for a fire starter? The Alabama likely migrated from Ireland among them perhaps some “fire red haired” people that could not mix because of their blood type?


    Hey Richard
    I have really liked all the articles and comments you and the readers have done on language the last couple of months. I was wondering, did you check the Kansa language for any similar words or word sounds?
    They did live in the area a long time before moving west.

    • I checked the key Kansa words against Muskogean languages. Only some Chickasaw words appeared in Kansa. When I have more time, I will check Kanza against Irish Gaelic and Archaic Swedish. Real, real busy right now.

    • Amana was the Bronze Age goddess worshiped by the Apalache. Atoya was the pre-Inca mountain god, worshiped as a sun god on the coast of South Carolina and Georgia by Panoan tribes. The Atoya River in Mexico could well be named after the Peruvian god.


    Richard, Amazing how many sound / word connections there are between the Native peoples of the South, Europe, and the Eastern Mediterranean area: A-para-ya, Ala-shi-ya, Ala-lah, Mit-tani, Ani, Togha-ma, Tu-wa-na, Mar-tu ( I think these words are strong indications of a stone age / copper/ bronze age peoples that advanced here and migrated to Europe and then into the Mediterranean Sea area) Perhaps different waves of Sea peoples? Notice the Atoya symbols (concentric circles) Cyprus pottery, ancient circular houses, and the Caral Peru temple symbol in Spain are all indicating the Sea fairing people of Peru then to Caribbean made it across:


    Richard T., Yet again a great post. Here is something to think about.
    The stone circles (stone Henge type) are believed to be older in the Americas than in Europe.

    If the story about Atlantis by Plato is based on actual historic place it could also be indirect proof that Atlantis was/is the Americas since Atlanteans came from the west taking (conquer) lands in Europe towards Greece where they were defeated by the Greeks at least how the story goes.

    What if ‘ton’ or ‘tona’ was borrowed by people speaking a different language? Could the letter ‘s’ have been added? In this case, yes. Example singular ‘town’ from ‘ton’ is ‘towns’ in plural form.
    Sometimes when words are borrowed in other languages there are changes in letter sounds and even loss in certain letters. Perhaps ‘ton’ or ‘tons’ evolved into ‘to’/’tun’ and ‘tons’/’tuns’ with a possible loss of the letter n it would become ‘to’/’tu’ and ‘tos’/’tus’.

    In other posts like “Irish Stone Circles Date from 2000 BC to 1100 BC” I have reconstructed the word Atlantis in the Gaelic language.
    àitlanntìr is one of the Gaelic reconstructions of a possible origin for the word Atlantis yet it is in fact grammatically in the wrong word order. In Gaelic it would be Tìr àit lann. Tìr similar to Terra meaning land.

    Tír na nÓg = (Land of the Young)
    Tír na hÓige = (Land of Youth)
    Tír Tairngire = (Land of Promise/Promised Land)
    Tír fo Thuinn = (Land under the Wave)
    Terra Nova = (new land; literally “land new”).

    I have proposed that the Indo-Aryan Dhivehi word atholhu meaning “atoll” ;which is a ring shaped island or to be more precise a ring shaped coral reef; is probably adopted into the Greek language (or perhaps another Mediterranean language).
    Further more I have also mentioned that the word atholhu was first recorded in English in 1625 as atollon. Hypthetically the word atollon could have exsisted perhaps in a different form far before Its first recorded use in English in 1625.

    When the following words atollon and ton are combined it becomes atollonton meaning “mountain atoll”, “hill atoll”/”mountain (or hill) in an atoll (ring shaped coral reef)” alternatively meaning “fort in an atoll” / “fortified town in an atoll”.
    In plural form it would be atollontona or atollontons. With the loss of the letter ‘n’ the combined words become atollontos and with the letter change from ‘o’ to ‘u’ the word becomes atollontus.

    Could it be that the true origin of the name Atlantis is Atholhu Tus / Atollontus “Mountain/s or Fortified town/s (City) in an atoll/ring shaped coral reef”?


    Richard, Amazing petroglyphs connections you have found for at least 4 areas of the Earth! Makes me believe more everyday in an ancient Sea fairing peoples that built their ports in concentric circles…Copper/Bronze age Native Americans. Comet strikes seem to have affected the 10,000 BC time period for Eastern North America. Some of those peoples (Indo-Asians) perhaps made their way all the way to Western China:


    Richard I live in the small town of Ellijay Georgia. I have a wife who is a quarter Native American. I used to say quarter Cherokee until I started reading some of your articles. My father-in-law had a bass rock collection. And told me stories of some of his Rock hunting Adventures in late 70s early 80s. He passed 3 years ago and now I have inherited a rock collection. I would really like to be able to send you some pictures of some of these stones. A certain number of stones came from underneath the waterfall Northwest of the town of Ellijay. He and I assumed that these rocks were hidden from European settlers but then it comes into question why would they hide the rocks from the white men. It’s been a puzzle for me to say the least. How do you really like to get your thoughts on this matter and you can send me an email at the corresponding address

    • Jerry, so many ethnic groups have lived in the Ellijay-Cartacay Valleys, there is no telling what ceremony was involved with placing rocks behind the waterfalls. There is a lot of evidence that the people living there during the latter part of the Colonial Period were a mixture of many peoples that included runaway African slaves, Spanish-Portuguese-Sephardic gold miners, the mixed-blood offspring of miners and Native women and remnants of almost extinct South Carolina tribes. Did you read the article I wrote on the man remembered as White Path, who lived near the confluence of Cherry Log Creek and the river? He was NOT the same person as the Cherokee named White Path, who lived in Kentucky. All the official stories in Georgia and the White Path cabin in Gainesville, mixed up the two men. Ellijay’s White Path was basically a white man from northeastern North Carolina, with a little bit of Native blood. He was a Quaker missionary. Most of his neighbors were African-Americans. Neither he or any of his children went on the Trail of Tears. After the Cherokee Removal, they called themselves white and continued to live in the former Cherokee lands.


    Richard my name is Jerry fendley and I live in Ellijay Georgia. Right now we are carving a burnout hardwood canoe and a totem pole in Ellijay River Park to commemorate the Trail of Tears. We are trying to organize a remembrance walk back from Oklahoma within the next year to year-and-a-half. If you will check the timescourier the local paper for this Wednesday There’s an article in the living section. We are going to be traveling to Oklahoma to prevent this letter to the tribe within the next four to six weeks. As I am a carpenter in a woodworker, to try and organize an event such as this is completely mind-boggling. I would appreciate any ideas , comments, and or support in trying to make this endeavor come together. My wife is also cool Native American. I’m not sure about myself. My father-in-law had a great rock collection and stories to go with him. He passed 3 years ago all of the rocks and most of the stories are now in my possession. I would love to be able to send you some photos to get your take on some of these unique stones that I have in my possession.

    • Our email address is You might consider finding out what route was taken to the Indian Territory by the people gathered together in the Ellijay area and follow their route. Also, be sure that there is some Cherokee official in Tallequah, OK who will accept the letter you are bringing. LOL Leslie Thomas, who is a past-president of the Georgia Trail of Tears Association is a person that you want to talk with, concerning your plans. She lives near Ellijay.


    The original Roots have been marked by the state of Georgia. They are called Roundup routes. Highway 282 going west towards Murray County is one of these routes. I live 17 miles outside of Ellijay on this route. Fort Hetzel was original four in Ellijay. It was located close to where the conical stands in East Ellijay at the corner of Highway 515 and 1st Street. They were in camped where today’s River Park in Ellijay and across the river where the Pilgrims Pride poultry plant stands today. There was a small village on Tails Creek. This Village was located about a mile from my house. From what I understand this site was one of the last communities of Native Americans in the county. After all or most of the people live in this region pass this Camp the Native Americans were forced out at gunpoint. Thank you for answering my comments. I will be sending some pictures to the people of one fire at and I hope that you enjoy them. Maybe I have something that might even Peak your interest. I apologize for sending the double comment. I thought I’d hit the back on my browser and deleted the first one! LOL thank you Richard and I look forward to reading more stuff online


    LOL I just re-read my comments and I must say completely funny. Please disregard the obvious lack of grammar located In those two. I use talk to text for the simple reason I am a carpenter and it would take me 3 days to write two pages. LOL since the day we all used cell phones and tablets for internet purposes. The lack of a keyboard it’s something I severely struggle with. As I have chubby fingers


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