Archaeologist Arthur Kelly found Paracus-style skulls on Etowah River
The discoveries have been completely erased from current anthropological literature.
Two weeks ago, People of One Fire sleuth, Ed Reilly, sent me an intriguing newspaper clipping from a November 12, 1948 edition of the Red and Black . . . the student newspaper of the University of Georgia. As part of a short article on the frantic efforts to complete archaeological surveys in the Upper Etowah River Basin before Lake Allatoona reached full capacity, there was a brief mention of the skulls. The article stated that the skulls had been deformed on the front and back in order to create an elongated shape with a squarish cross-section. The writer added that Kelly was bringing three of the skulls back to the University of Georgia to show to faculty and students. Apparently, the others were either given away or re-buried after field examination. The actual archaeological site, where they were found, was not stated.
I delayed passing on the news until I had time to examine all of my archaeological reports on the excavations at Lake Allatoona . . . nada (nothing). Joseph Caldwell was hired by the Smithsonian Institute to carry out the survey of Lake Allatoona. When he ran out of time, Kelly came to his assistance, but Kelly did not publish a separate report on his discoveries. Caldwell did eventually publish his far-too-brief report on his work at Lake Allatoona. He acknowledged Kelly’s assistance, but made no mention of deformed skulls. He staterd that Kelly had helped with the last minute excavation of the Woodstock Village Site, which is the earliest manifestation of “Mississippian” cultural traits. However, we have no way of knowing, if this is where Kelly was finding the Paracus-style skulls.
All archaeological references that I accessed stated that the type of elongated skulls, found on the Nazca Plain of Peru did not occur in North America. Obviously, they are wrong. However, forehead deformation was quite common in the major mounds centers of the Pre-Columbian Southeast. In fact, one of the Itsate Creeks from the Savannah River Basin, who was invited to London by James Oglethorpe in 1734, looks just like a Classic Period Maya. Dr. Kelly mentioned to me this abundance of skulls with flattened foreheads, when describing his belief that Mesoamericans visited or established colonies in Georgia at the time that the first “Mississippian Culture” mounds were appearing. I don’t recall him mentioning anything about cultural connections to Peru, but that was a long time ago. Maybe he mentioned the elongated skulls and it flew right over my sophomoric head?
In the 1960s, Arthur Kelly found skulls near the Lower Chattahoochee and Apalachicola Rivers that had been successfully operated it on. They had square holes, which had healed. He briefly mentioned these discoveries in his reports, but went no further. There was no effort within his profession to link the practice of trepanation in Georgia to cultural influences or immigration from Peru. I could not find any contemporary anthropological papers on trepanation, which even mentioned the skulls found by Kelly. Again, as in other discoveries, it appears that the generation of archaeologists, who followed Kelly, censured what information would be spoon-fed to students and the general public so that their theories on the peopling of the Americas, would be viewed as unquestionable facts.
Now you know!
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