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Lessons we learned in 2017

Lessons we learned in 2017


New Year’s Day – 2018 

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The western cliffs of Ven Island, Sweden ~ location of petroglyphs

The Master of Life does work in mysterious ways.   An experience I had four days after graduating from Georgia Tech suddenly had extreme significance in the second decade of the 21st century.  As the People of One Fire continued on its eleventh year of exploring answers to the question, “Who are we?” major discoveries were made that completely altered the understanding of North America’s ancient past.

This is something I always tell young folks in lectures.  Live every moment of your life. Observe and question every experience you have . . . every environment that you are in.  You never know, when some day far in future that experience will change the world . . . or at least turn the history books upside down.  OMG! . . . Now I know why something spiritual drew me back again and again to that ancient island in the Oresund Channel with the Bronze Age petroglyphs . . . to go skinny dipping with my Swedish girlfriend.  LOL  Even though I have lived in many, many places since then, the images of the cliffs of Ven Island, Bronze Age petroglyphs and the odd-looking Hjortspring boats  of Bronze Age Scandinavia always remained deep within the recesses of my mind.

POOF spent 2017 paddling down the beautiful rivers of the Southern Highlands.  We examined the many discoveries of pioneer archaeologists, such as Warren K. Moorehead, Robert Wauchope, Arthur Kelly, Joseph Caldwell, Lewis Larsen and Michael Coe.  In particular, Wauchope’s amazing discoveries have been all but forgotten, since he did not publish his report until 27 years later. We also studied the diggings of the quasi-archaeologists of the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Their discoveries have been completely forgotten, but give a very different picture of the Southern Highland’s cultural landscape a century ago.  This article will follow the chronology of 2017, so that readers can go back and re-read articles that they missed.

Things to remember from 2017

(1)  The Upper Etowah and Amicalola Basins contained a “lost civilization” that seems to have begun during the European Bronze Age, but continued until the European Contact Period.  The terrain of the southern tip of the Blue Ridge Mountains is chock full of stone cairns, circular stone shrines, petroglyphs and mounds that few people have seen.  They seem to have been a different ethnic group than those peoples living in the broad river valleys of Northwest Georgia.  When soldiers from Kusa led a party of the De Soto Expedition up Talking Rock Creek in search of gold. The Native guides stopped at the boundary of this mysterious people because they said that there were “witches” living beyond.

(2)  The real name of Etowah Mounds is the Itza Maya word, Etula.  It means “Principal Town.”  During the Early Woodland, Middle Woodland, Late Woodland and Early Mississippian Period, the community here was on both sides of where the Etowah River currently flows. Etula was actually much older than Cahokia and lasted about 300 years longer. Museum exhibits in the Etowah Mound Museum ignore the archaeological discoveries of Robert Wauchope and Arthur Kelly to make one think that the town was suddenly settled around 1000 AD.  Around 1250 AD a massive flood caused the Etowah to change its channel, which originally flowed north of Mound A at Etula. Much of the town from 1000 BC to 1200 AD was washed away.  Mound A at Etula was originally only a few feet shorter than Monks Mound at Cahokia and shaped very differently.  The owners of the property in the 1800s allowed artifact collectors to “mine” the mound for $200 a day. Original ramps were destroyed and a new one built in order to get mule wagons up to the top.

(3) Bronze Age mariners from Scandinavia and probably the Mediterranean Basin sailed up the Savannah River and disembarked at the head of navigation next to Tugaloo Island.  A quarried stone marker, now called the Tugaloo Stone marked the disembarkation site.  It portrays three bronze age ships and contain numerous astronomical and navigation symbols, typical of Bronze Age Scandinavia.

(4) The stone cairn cemeteries are concentrated in the gold-bearing belt, which crossed from East Central Alabama to Northwestern South Carolina.  The portion of the gold belt in North Carolina Piedmont contains few, if any stone cairns.

(5)  The 4000 year old petroglyphs near Nyköping, Sweden contain several glyphs which also appear on several petroglyphic boulders in North Georgia.  The most astonishing locations are on some of the boulders at the Track Rock Petroglyphs.  The shared cultural heritage include the circle cross, which Creeks called the Sacred Fire.  Today, it symbolizes the Master of Life.   Several of these shared Bronze Age glyphs can also be seen in County Kerry, Ireland; Ven Island, Sweden (where the author designed a pedestrian village); Tanum, Sweden; Bornholm Island, Sweden and Gotland Island, Sweden.

(6) Lund University’s Department of Anthropology and Ancient History sent POOF a guide to interpreting Bronze Age glyphs in Scandinavia.  With this chart, most of the petroglyphs in the Southern Highlands can be translated . . . but not all.  Some clearly contain Itza Maya glyphs, which can be translated also.

(7) The famous King Village Site on the Coosa River, three miles east of the Alabama-Georgia line, was NOT a Muskogean (Creek) town.  Its plan and architecture are identical to Mandan towns out west from the 1700s and early 1800s.

(8)  There are many mound and town sites in and near Rome, GA, but in the late 20th century, the city’s cultural leaders elected to ignore their ancient heritage and instead focus on the brief period when Cherokees lived there between 1795 and 1832. 

(9)  A phenomenal number of stone ruins survive in the mountains of East Central Alabama.  A recent survey by archaeologists suggest that there may be over 3,000 stone ruins there today.  Pioneer archaeologist, Charles C. Jones, Jr. wrote that when settlers arrived in North Georgia the landscape was also littered with stone ruins, but unlike the situation in Alabama, most of the ruins were quickly converted into building materials.

(10)  New Echota at the confluence of the Conasauga and Coosawattee Rivers, was originally a Kansa town.  Prior to becoming New Echota, the town there was named Kansa-ki.  Museum exhibits and Cherokee history books state that Ustanauli was located there, but it was three miles upstream and a Chickasaw town, not Cherokee.  Ustanauli moved to western Tennessee.

(11) The stone ruins on Fort Mountain, near Chatsworth, GA seem to be an anomaly.  They were located in a geological region characterized by sedimentary and metamorphized sedimentary rocks . . . geology that does not normally contain gold.  However, further research revealed that there are gold bearing igneous rocks around Fort Mountain.  Apparently, eons ago a volcanic tube pushed up through 13,000 feet of sedimentary rocks.  The same phenomenon is seen in Vera Cruz, Tabasco and Chiapas States, Mexico . . . volcanoes rising from limestone bedrock.  The region was mined during the 1800s, but there is also an ancient mine at the base of Fort Mountain.  Its supporting timbers were radiocarbon dated to around 1600 AD.

(12) Two silver crosses were found many years ago near the Coosawattee River in Northwest Georgia. Since then the crosses have uniformly described as being gifts to the Indians from the De Soto Expedition.  I examined the crosses worn in 16th century Spain and also those crosses mass-produced in Mexico for friars to give indigenous converts throughout the Americas.  There is no resemblance whatsoever.  What these crosses do resemble are those worn by French women during the Late Medieval Period, Renaissance and even unto today.  However, there is one distinct detail of these crosses, which clearly eliminates the De Soto Expedition as their source.  At the center (juxtaposition) of these crosses is the Cross of Languedoc . . . the symbol of the French Protestant Church . . . better known as the French Huguenots.

(13) The eastern side of the Hiwassee River Basin was populated by Peruvians, probably from the ancient province there of Konas.  The people called themselves the Konasi or “descendants of Konas.”  The western bank was occupied by Itza Maya descendants and Uchee.  This is why the original name of Brasstown, NC was Itsa-yi . . . which in Cherokee means “Itza – place of.”

(14)  The Upper Tennessee Headwaters, commonly called the Dillard Valley, was formerly a lake.  This is why the soil is so black and fertile there . . . and why there are so many town sites with mounds located along the Little Tennessee River.

(15) Nantahala is a Hybrid Southern Arawak-Itza Maya-Uchee word, which means “White water (rapids) River People.”   This is substantial evidence that the ethnic heritage of the North Carolina Mountains was very complex.

(16)  Chiaha Island can be seen on old topo maps. It is located just down stream of the confluence of the Little Tennessee, Tuckasegee and Nantahala Rivers and upstream from a deep 30+ mile long gorge.  This exactly matches the description of Chiaha by the chroniclers of the De Soto and Pardo Expeditions. The island is due north of Cheaha Mountain and upstream from the Cheaha River.

Zimmerman Island, Tennessee was selected by a group of academicians, who studied the routes of De Soto in the 1980s.  However, there are no rivers entering the French Broad River upstream from the island. There is a six mile-long gorge upstream from Zimmerman Island, but no gorge downstream.   

(17)  Large Hopewell-type earthworks discovered in the Andrews Valley, NC.  There is a rectangular and circular earthwork immediately adjacent to the Tamatli Mound in Tomatla, North Carolina.

(18)  Arawaks and Panoans lived in the Great Smoky Mountains.  Several villages, later occupied by the Cherokees had the “koa” suffix in their name, which is Arawak in origin.  Juan Pardo visited a village on the border of present day North Carolina and Tennessee, named Satipo.  It is a Panoan word, which means “colonists – place of.”

(19) South Americans from the Upper Amazon Basin lived on the Savannah River near Elberton, GA.  In 1773, William Bartram observed massive agricultural platforms, each two football fields in area and up to 12 feet deep, composed of bio-char soil.  The site included at least a dozen truncated round mounds. The largest mound was about 50 feet tall and 275 feet in diameter. This site is known as the Rembert Mounds.  Mid-20th century archaeologists studied the Elbert Mounds, thinking that they were the Rembert Mounds. The Elbert Mounds were about two miles south of the Rembert Mounds and dated from the Late Mississippian Period. 

(20)  Satellite and Near Visible Light images revealed that the Nikwasee Mound in Franklin, NC was originally a round, terraced mound.  It was probably built by the same people, who founded the large town near Elberton, GA.


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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.



    “The shared cultural heritage include the circle cross, which Creeks called the Sacred Fire. Today, it symbolizes the Master of Life.” I’m completely brand new to all of this. Could you post a photo or drawing of this symbol?

    • Sure . . . here is the main article:


    Thank you for all your hard work and the good reads the past year! Here’s wishing you a prosperous and rewarding 2018!

    • Well, thank you sir. The truth is that there is much we still don’t know or understand. A happy New Year to you also.


    There is some external information that i have researched that lends to the overall basis here. When the “country people” were first identified in Virginia by Smith, etc, the tribes were called DOEG and ManDoag. This quickly changed to names that were Algonquian. After researching the reason Peter Wynne wrote a letter to John Egerton 1608 about “welsh speaking” natives, I believe I have found out why we were called DOEG now.

    The Indian Ocean was once known as the Erythraean Sea, from a word meaning “red.” This is not to be confused with the strip of water running between Saudi Arabia and Africa. However, it is interesting that both seas were named “red.” This is because the “red men” Edomites that is, the Phoenicians, were the mariners to frequently use these watery lanes, as they traversed the globe.

    Doeg (Hebrew: דּוֹיֵג‎ Dō’êḡ) was an Edomite, chief herdsman to Saul, King of Israel. He is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible book of First Samuel, chapters 21 and 22, where he is depicted as responsible for the deaths of a large number of priests.
    When the first settlers came to Virginia, they called us DOEG and MANDOAG…meaning “red men”, “Phoenicians” (aka Edomites) in the bible.

    Since the alphabet has been proven by Alan Wilson to be the origin of Khumry (Cymry or Welsh), it would make sense that natives in Virginia would sound similar to that of the Welsh. Ironically, there are no known drawings, pictures, sketches etc of the Monacans, Saponi, or Tutelo of that time….but yet they were amazingly different then the Powhatan clan. Just thought you might be interested.

    • Toeg or Tueg is also a tribal name in Ireland. The original people of Ireland, whose descendants now live primarily in the southwestern Atlantic Coast counties looked very different than most Irish today. They are called the Black Irish, but originally looked pretty much like a mixed-blood Native American in the United States.


        WOW!!! Thank you….that will keep me busy 🙂


    Thanks again for this interesting post Richard. I did not know you were on Utube channel I shall look this up.
    Good luck in all you do for POOF during 2018, HAPPY NEW YEAR.


    Looking forward to learning more in 2018. Can you tell us of the impact of the I-16/I-75 new interchange that will alter the landscape of the former Baconsfield park and what type of archeological “oversight” that project has in place? I stomped around most every hill and valley of “Shirly Hills” and since finding this site only a year ago I have learned vast amounts of information which I was never taught about Macon and its surrounding areas. Now residing in the Ocala,FL area, your website has led me to discover the rich history of this area as well. On a recent visit to G.ville at the Fl.Museum of Nat. History, viewing the write-ups on the placards under artifacts, your web info gave me a whole different perspective as to what I might be actually viewing. The Marion County Museum in Ocala had many artifacts and donated collections to view, but a knowledgeable curator was not present. I am looking forward to viewing the Silver River Museum east of Ocala in the near future. It seems that an excavation company that receives a lot of road contracts is dotating heavily to the museum and furnishing buildings to house the artifacts as well. I can’t help but read between the lines . Thanks for the continued education on Middle Georgia.

    • Neil, I don’t know any details about the I-16 interchange project. Your best bet is contacting the Georgia DOT office in Macon. My understanding is that an archaeological survey was carried out as part of the mandated Section 106 review of federally funded projects.


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