Richard Thornton | May 9, 2017 | 23
Drawings and photos of Itza, Chontal and Tamauli Maya earthen mounds
It remains a mystery why North American archaeologists are not aware that several branches of the Mayas exclusively built earthen mounds along the Gulf Coast of Mexico, plus in the Chiapas Highlands of Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. They were identical to those built in the Lower Southeastern United States. In both regions, the mounds were stuccoed with brightly colored clays.
The Apalache of northern Georgia went a step further and applied decorative bands and patterns made of crushed gold-colored mica to some of their mounds and all of their temples. This architectural detail was the source of the legend of the cities of gold in the Southern Highlands. A “signature” of Apalache mounds in Northeast Georgia are that they are veneered with stone cobbles, just like two of the mounds, pictured below, from Tamaulipas.
The walls of their temples were constructed by stacking stones with red clay mortar. All that remains today are usually lines of collapsed stone walls. Portions of stone building walls still stand at the Sandy Creek and Track Rock Terrace Complexes.
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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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