Celebrating the Creek New Year!
It is also know as Posketv, the Green Corn Festival or the Creek Busk!
When the sun sets in your neck of the woods around 9:00 PM EDT this evening, it will mark the year’s end of a very ancient calendar and the beginning of a new year. The Creek solar calendar was equally as accurate as the one used today, but distinctly different than the Maya calendar. That is one of the reasons that we know that the Itza Mayas were just one of the ingredients in our ancestral Brunswick Stew . . . not the main course. The Creek Calendar consisted of 12 30-day months and a varying number of “Leap Days,” which were calculated by astronomer-priests known as “Keepers of the Days.” The Leap Days became the Green Corn Festival. A corn fast preceded the Green Corn Festival. The feasts of the Green Corn Festival included prodigious amounts of corn-on-the-cob and brunswick stew, but not such items as grits, hominy, hush puppies and tamales . . . which were made from mature, dried corn kernels. During the festivities, it was common for engagements to be announced and weddings held. A marital engagement involved the man moving in with his prospective wife’s family for a year. The couple enjoyed friendship with benefits, but the man had to do menial chores for his future mother-in-law. The highlight of the Green Corn Festival was when all domestic fires were extinguished then re-ignited with coals from the temple. A married couple celebrated the renewal of their vows by jointly carrying the coals in a special ceramic pot, shaped like a conch shell or even with a conch shell.
The Alec Mountain Stone Oval and Arnold Mound
In the winter and spring of 2019, volunteers went out into the mountainous woods in an attempt to locate and record some of the 100+ ancient stone ruins and mounds in Northeast Georgia, identified by Smithsonian Institute archaeologist, Cyrus Thomas, in 1886. Almost all these sites have been forgotten by the current generation of Southeastern archaeologists. These enigmatic ruins tell a very different version of the Southeast’s past than what students are taught today.
Perhaps our most memorable outing was when we climbed Alec Mountain to visit the oval stone ruins of an ancient observatory. The site now is so densely covered with trees, it is impossible to get a photo or video of the entire ruins. I cannot tell you who built this observatory or when it was built . . . but it is probably at least 2000 years old . . . maybe 4,000 years old.
What immediately surprised me was that the oval was aligned to true North-South, but tilted about 12 degrees to the south. There must be an astronomical reason for this tilt and the oval shape, but the answer would only be speculative. There was relatively flat ground below and above the oval, so the tilt was intentional. The long axis of the ruins today are approximately 103 feet, while the short axis was 89 feet. On the northern end of the oval is a terrace and the ruins of a stone structure, which I portrayed as a cylinder in the drawing on the right.
The Alek Mountain Site was visited by archaeologist, Robert Wauchope, in 1939. By that time, it was a popular attraction for automobile tourists. Much of the lower slopes around the ruins were pasture, thus affording spectacular views of surrounding mountains from the ruins. Himself an Eagle Scout, Wauchope encouraged a local Boy Scout troop to take over stewardship over the ruins. They cleared a trail, kept trees from encroaching on the ruins and constructed a gravel parking lot on Alek Mountain Road.
In 1956, Harvard University archaeologist, Phillip E. Smith, directed a team of local men in the excavation of test ditches at the Alec Mountain Site. The found no artifacts. The ditches and pits that they dug are still visible. At that time, the site was kept in pristine condition by the Boy Scout troop. His interpretation of the site was that it was quite ancient, but he didn’t know who built it.
This archaeological site has lacked maintenance for a long, long time. I spoke to women in their 30s and 40s, who have lived in eyesight of Alec Mountain all their lives, but never heard of the ruins. I am an Eagle Scout also. The Northeast Georgia Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America could not determine which troop maintained the site for at least two decades. Apparently, in the late 20th century, the Habersham County government re-graded Amy’s Creek Road. In the process, work crews destroyed the parking lot and the archaeological site was quickly forgotten by almost all people in Habersham County.
Etymology of Alec Mountain
At least as early as the 1600s, alek was the Creek word for a medical doctor. That was derived from the name of a Native American tribe living on the lower stretches of the Altamaha River in Georgia, who called themselves the Alekmanni . . . meaning Doctor or Medicine People. Their capital was about 25 miles upstream from Fort Caroline on the May River, where Jesup, GA is now located. That is one of the many reasons that we know for a fact that Fort Caroline was on the Altamaha River, not in Florida. Among other things, the Alekmanni grew cinchona trees, from which quinine is derived. It is quite possible that the ancient town site beneath Alec Mountain was a trading colony for the Alekmanni.
Now this is where it gets really weird. Alekmanni is an archaic Southern Scandinavian-Northern German word. It would have had the same meaning for the Angles (Archaic English People in southern Scandinavia) as it did the Creeks in the 1700s. In old English, placing an “a” in front of the noun, leka, created a word that meant, “someone who uses herbs.” The root word, leka, means “herbs” or “medicinal herbs.” Leka survives in modern English as the vegetable, leeks, but is the root word for medicine and doctors in Swedish, plus many Northeastern European languages. For example, läkere (pronounced lekare) is a medical doctor in Swedish. Läkemedel is the Swedish word for a medicinal drug. It is obvious that North America’s past is far more complex than what is told to students in their textbooks. One cannot argue with homonyms being found in both Native American and Bronze Age European languages. However, to make any interpretations today beyond that takes us into the realm of speculation.
Latest posts by Richard Thornton (see all)
- Eight acre tract at entrance to Track Rock Gap is still for sale - July 19, 2019
- Lies your archaeologist told you . . . Parte Quatre - July 18, 2019
- Your editor is now back in touch with the world. - July 18, 2019
- Lightning strikes twice update - July 17, 2019
- Editor struck by lightning Friday - July 8, 2019