I just discovered a petroglyphic boulder behind my house!
You never know what surprises with come your way, when you take the dogs for a walk in the steep terrain behind my house. Two weeks ago it was a hybrid copperhead-water moccasin, curled up on our path. My right boot was about to pass over it, when I spotted the venom glands, typical of a pit viper.
This surprise was considerably more pleasant. The house sits near the top of a 1900 feet tall ridge, which extends east-west from Alec Mountain then turns northward toward Batesville. Much of the back of the property is a steep-walled ravine about 100 feet deep. As I was trying to keep up with the tiger pups, I came face to face with a carved boulder that I had never noticed before. It is volcanic rock . . . high-silica content rhyolite. The boulder is about five feet tall and seven feet long. It sits on a natural terrace, overlooking the ravine.
The carving of the boulder consisted of deep parallel grooves on the east side, chevrons and a dot near the top and what appears to have been a seated person on the right. Someone didn’t like that person because the head and upper torso have been chipped out. I could find no designs on the back side of the rock.
Several of the details on this boulder are similar to a petroglyphic boulder found about 30 years ago in the nearby Sautee Creek Valley. The Allen Boulder is also volcanic rhyolite. It was bleached by the owner, prior to being photographed. These motifs are not seen elsewhere in the United States, but have been found on boulders in Central America and Early Bronze Age Scandinavia. However, in general the RobRoy Boulder (that’s what I christened it, in honor of Rob Roy the Wonder Dog) most likely represents a coiled rattlesnake with a ruler at its side.
Georgia’s petroglyphs are extremely different than the better known petroglyphs in the Southwestern United States. Some are examples of the Apalache-Creek Writing System, which seems to have started out as a mixture of Bronze Age Swedish writing and the earliest form of writing in the Olmec Civilization. Several branches of the Creeks migrated from the same region of Mexico in which the Olmec Civilization rose, so this is understandable. Most are identical to the Bronze Age petroglyphs of certain parts of Northwestern Europe. Most petroglyphs in the Etowah River Basin are identical to those of County Kerry, Ireland in the southwest corner of that nation. However, the Shoal Creek Petroglyphs near Waleska and the Etowah River look very Mesoamerican. On the other hand, the petroglyphs and stelas in the Upper Chattahoochee, Nottely, Hiwassee and Savannah River Basins look like those of Bronze Age Sweden and Denmark. There is much we still don’t understand about North America’s ancient past.
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