Image: Ancient iron and copper furnaces in Western North Carolina
This archaeological excavation by the Smithsonian Institute over a century ago, is but one example of the fascinating true history of the mountains of North Carolina. The hints of a complex history in the region have been concealed from our current generation, less they call to question the myth of the “Great Cherokee Empire,” which was fabricated in the late 20th century.
This particular site is located in Caldwell County, NC. There are iron, gold, copper and silver ore deposits in that region. It appears to be a complex of stone furnaces, used to smelt iron, gold and copper ore into ingots that later became a Native American cemetery. However, the skeletons may be Caucasians. The archaeologists made no effort to determine the ethnicity of the skeletons. The metal artifacts were shipped back to Washington, DC and today are somewhere in the vast warehouses of the Smithsonian Institute.
Solidified molten iron and copper were found at several locations in the complex, as were iron weapons and tools. The style of iron implements could be anywhere from the Roman Era to the Early Renaissance, but definitely did not date from the 1700s, when Great Britain colonized North Carolina. This site may date from the earliest times of the European Contact Era or be much older. There has been no efforts by contemporary archaeologists to re-examine the site to obtain more artifacts and radiocarbon dates. The site abounded in charcoal, so radiocarbon dating would be quite easy.
Three types of burials were discovered. The earliest was a rectangular stone sarcophagus that is typical of above ground, Christian burials in medieval Europe. The more common burials at this site were flexed skeletons jammed into the abandoned furnaces or conventional extended corpse burials. The more haphazard burials were accompanied by some Native American artifacts.
Ancient bronze and iron implements found elsewhere
In 1936, James Ford of the Smithsonian Institute found bronze weapons and tools along the banks of the Altamaha River near its mouth. He naively labeled them Late 16th century Spanish implements. The people of Iberia stopped making bronze weapons around 500 BC! These ancient artifacts were put on display at a museum, built by the State of Georgia next to the Altamaha River. However, after World War II, the state government converted the property to an orphanage then later deeded the orphanage to the Southern Baptist Church. No one knows yet what happened to these artifacts, but they are probably in a state warehouse somewhere.
Ancient bronze and iron axes and tools have been found in several stone covered burial mounds in the Oconee River Basin of Northeast Georgia, which is a major tributary of the Altamaha River. The discoveries were made by highly competent, professional archaeologists . . . some of whom are still alive today. They were briefly mentioned in published archaeological reports, but never publicized. You see . . . there is a problem . . . the bronze and iron tools were in burials that seem to predate the arrival of French and Spanish explorers to the Southeastern United States. To publicize evidence that Europeans were in the Southeast before Columbus could have put their careers in jeopardy.
And now you know!
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