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Breaking News! Another terrace complex discovered in Metro Atlanta

Breaking News!   Another terrace complex discovered in Metro Atlanta

Terraces, stone cairn cemetery and fish traps are associated with the Upper Etowah River and Amicalola Creek.  In 1939,  archaeologist Robert Wauchope noticed the stone cairns, but was not sure if they were built by Native Americans or early white settlers.  He did not mention the stone walls in his report.  Nevertheless, Wauchope gave these stone structures an official site number.  They were soon forgotten until rediscovered by a citizen conservationist. 

The stone walls, building ruins and fish traps are on land owned by the City of Atlanta and leased by the State of Georgia as a state forest and wildlife management area.  Some of the stone cairns are on private land, owned by the citizen conservationist.


This complex is downstream from the much smaller Steele Bridge Terrace complex, the Edge of the World Woodland Period Town Site, numerous Woodland and Mississippian Mounds of modest size and the Harben Mound . . . tallest mound in the Southern Appalachians.   When I complete a three dimensional computer model of the archaeological zone, a much more detailed description of the archaeological zone will be published in the People of One Fire.



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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.


    • Very interesting Wayne. Did you catch the the Etsanoa name? That’s Itza as in Itza Maya.


        Hey Richard
        I did not ! That must have been the group that came up the Mississippi and hung a left. There is not much on the web about this site i hope the professor releases a paper on this place, it would be interesting.
        B y the way hope the garden is in. I’ve been working on mine!


    I really don’t know if this has any relevance as it may just be farmer terraces, but at Blanton Creek Wildlife Management Area along the Chattahoochee River in Harris County, GA there are stone terraces every where. I found one section along a tributary (Blanton Creek I think) where the terraces were not completed, but piles of stones are all over in preparation for building the terraces. Again, this could have been a large plantation site where slaves gathered the stones and built the terraces for the plantation. The area had been through a prescribed burn a year ago and walking through there with no understory vegetation really made the terraces and piled stones stand out. After seeing the pictures above it reminded me of these so I just thought I’d mention it.

    • Yes, there are Native American agricultural terraces in Harris County! I wrote an article about them a couple of years ago.


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