Massive Ballcourt Discovered in Northwestern Habersham County, Georgia
Horseshoe shaped, earthen ballcourts were typical of the Olmec Civilization and its descendants in southern Mexico.
Based on a tip from a prominent family in the Nacoochee Valley, who have been extremely supportive of POOF’s research efforts, a survey team that included three enthusiastic herd dogs, today found a massive Mesoamerican style ballcourt in the beautiful mountainous region between the Chattahoochee and Soque Rivers. It is located beneath and north of the Alec Mountain Stone Circle. People living near the archaeological site told the People of One Fire patron that when the field around the structure was cultivated, many Native American artifacts, including Swift Creek and Lamar Complicated Stamp potsherds, appeared on the surface after rains. Therefore the location can be assumed to be a fairly large village, occupied for many centuries. The archaeological zone also includes a man-made pond, immediately to the east of the ballcourt.
This ballcourt is the exact shape and size of a ballcourt in front of the Nacoochee Valley Community Center that Marilyn Rae and I found in October 2013. The newly discovered ballcourt is 2.68 miles east of the Sautee ballcourt. Unfortunately, the Sautee archaeological site has since then has been heavily damaged by grading and the construction of a pavilion.
The newly discovered ballcourt has a flat playing field, which is approximately 315 feet (96m) north-south and 145 feet (44m) wide. The east and west sides of the field are earth berms, which are approximately 3 feet in height today. They probably were 8-10 feet high at least five centuries ago, when the field was in use. Like the site in nearby Sautee, the north end of the ballcourt is a series of semi-circular terraces, cut into the side of a ridge.
The Sautee Ballcourt was first given an official archaeological site number by archaeologist Robert Wauchope in 1939. As a listed archaeological site and ancient structure in a National Historic District, it should have been off-limits to construction and protected by local, regional and state planning officials. The structure first lost a corner of its seating terraces in the 1980s, when a state highway was straightened and widened. However, since protection of archaeological sites were centralized to the University of Georgia Archaeological Laboratory and the overworked State Historic Preservation Division in Metro Atlanta, the ancient earthen structure has become one of many major Creek heritage sites in Georgia, seriously damaged or destroyed by publicly funded construction or private investors, who bulldozed river bottomlands to grow corn for federal ethanol tax credits. It has become very clear that Native Americans must be given oversight of their major historical structures. Native American heritage is obviously not a priority of 21st century bureaucrats.
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