Do you recognize this writing system?
This stone disc was part of the enormous collection of Native American artifacts assembled by General Gates P. Thruston of Nashville, TN. It contains symbols also found on the Tugaloo Petroglyphic Rock and the Forsyth Petroglyphic Boulder in North Georgia. The Tugaloo Stone contains engravings of Bronze Age ships and boats, typical of Scandinavia. Do you recognize these symbols from a known archaic writing system? If so, please tell us in the comment section.
A broad selection of the Thruston P. Gates Collection is on display at the Tennessee State Capital Museum in Nashville. The majority of his donated 100,000+ artifacts are held in storage by Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Many of the collections’ stone statues are currently on loan to the McClung Museum at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
Thruston P. Gates was an attorney and a Union Army officer, who was designated military administrator of Nashville during the last few months of the Civil War. he also served as military governor during Reconstruction (1865-1872). He liked Nashville so much that he married a local lady and lived there the rest of his life. He claimed that much of his original collection was “given him” by soldiers erecting earthen fortifications around Nashville. That is dubious because almost all of Nashville’s Civil War fortifications were on hilly terrain, some distance away from the bottom lands where Native American mound builders lived.
Gates almost always labeled his artifacts as being found in Tennessee . . . mostly from southeastern Tennessee and the Nashville Area. However, People of One Fire proved in 2016 that most of Thruston’s “Tennessee” stone and ceramic statues were actually on display in homes near Etowah Mounds, Georgia before the Civil War and were examined by pioneer archaeologist, Charles C. Jones, Jr. at that time. They were stolen by Union soldiers in the 1st Ohio Volunteer Regiment when they were camped next to Etowah Mounds in September 1864. The soldiers also pilfered the mounds. General Thruston P. Gates was their commanding officer! We also proved that Gates corresponded repeatedly in the 1880s and 1890s with less than honest, self-styled archaeologist, John P. Rogan. This was after Rogan was fired from being the supervisor of the Smithsonian Institute excavation of Etowah Mounds in the mid-1880s.
Rogan was fired because he suddenly stopped producing trophy artifacts for the Smithsonian in Mound C, which is known to have been chock full of burials and burial offerings. Afterward, while supposedly unemployed and penniless, Rogan purchased an expensive piece of real estate in nearby Cartersville, hired an architect then constructed what was then Cartersville’s largest commercial building! I was the architect for the restoration of the J.P. Rogan Building in 2000. Throughout his life, Rogan continued to place ads in regional newspapers, offering to guide “gentlemen of means” to Indian mounds in North Georgia that contained large amounts of high quality Indian art. In 1925, he also assisted the famous archaeologist, Warren K. Moorehead, in his renewed excavations at Etowah Mounds.
It is documented that Rogan ravaged two mounds directly adjacent to the site where the Tugaloo Petroglyphic Stone was found. We strongly suspect that the stone disk, illustrated above, came from one of those mounds, not Tennessee. If you can translate any of the symbols on the petroglyphs pictured in this article, your assistance will be greatly appreciated.
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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.
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