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Soque Basin Update: Alec Mountain is not like anything in the textbooks!

Soque Basin Update:  Alec Mountain is not like anything in the textbooks!


This is an indigenous culture that flew right under the radar of anthropologists.

Detailed view of the 445 ft.  long stone & earthen structure

This archaeological zone is being thoroughly documented with satellite imagery, digital photographs, a GPS/laser surveying device and video camera.  I am also creating a three dimensional virtual reality model of the archaeological zone. However, it cannot be explained with the orthodox understanding of indigenous cultures in the Southeast.  What I am finding is extensive evidence of a dense population occupying the region for a long time, but none of the features typically associated with Woodland and Mississippian Period towns.  Most of the pottery is plain redware . . . typical of what was created by commoners in southern Mexico and around Ocmulgee National Historical Park.

Yesterday,  I was shown a village site on Amy’s Creek that 1.46 miles (2.36 km) due west of the Arnold Mound, which we discovered two weeks ago and 1.42 miles (2.39 km) due south of the 315 feet long ballgame stadium on Mauldin Mill Creek that Ginny King and I discovered this past February.  So far, I have identified 24 mounds and stone structures in the Alec Mountain Archaeological Zone.  Two of the stone structures and two of the mounds are certainly eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, yet only one of these structures is even listed in Georgia’s Archaeological Site Files.  I have also been informed about a large mountaintop village site to the north of the Arnold Mound, but have not inspected it.

Although almost completely forgotten by the residents of Habersham County today, the Alec Mountain Stone Circle was a major national tourist attraction from when it was discovered by Smithsonian Institute archaeologists, Cyrus Thomas, in 1886 until the 1960s, when the county rerouted Amys Creek Road and bulldozed the parking lot beneath the ruins. 

By far, the most enigmatic structure that I have seen in the Alec Mountain Archaeological Zone is the combination earthen and stone structure at left.  It appears to be an “effigy” structure, but I do not have a clue at this time, what it represents.

The mountainous terrain here in the northwestern corner of Habersham County is extremely rugged.  Its sandy volcanic soil in stream bottomlands is quite fertile, but insufficient in area to support large populations in any particular location.  The only exception is near Clarkesville, GA, seven miles to the east, where there are large expanses of fertile floodplains next to the Soque River.

From the very earliest days of their profession in the United States, archaeologists focused on town sites with large mounds, because it was here that they were able to quickly find the “trophy artifacts” demanded by the museums in the Northeastern United States and the private collectors, who funded the archaeological digs.   From this preoccupation with short-lived towns with large mounds, academicians developed a “model” of the ancient Southeast, which linked big towns with big mounds with advanced cultures.   That is clearly not the case here in the Soque-Sautee Basin.   The Soque People had a reputation as being one of the most advanced societies north of Mexico, but their populations was dispersed across a mountainous terrain with limited areas for agriculture.  Obviously, they thrived here for a long time.

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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.



    Richard, watched that “Maya in Georgia” tv show… they noted a site in the area of Ocmulgee and a Mexico site that reminded me of the Sardinia “flat top mound and a circular boulder in the front and to the left”…going back to perhaps? the stone age. Also I Just saw the “Atlantis rising tv show”….it was amazing to see a man with a brain like you put the puzzle together. Too many connections with the so called Omecs, Georgia Natives and the druids of Sardinia not to have had pre-Colon contact. also found in the Azores was a Phoenician or pre-Roman Crematory used by both cultures.

    • Mark, I really don’t know who built all those stone structures that I am documenting. We know the Soque lived there last, but according to them, they left Mexico in response to persecution by the Aztecs. However, the stone ruins here seem to be much, much older. At least by documenting them, there is a chance that someone else will have the funds to study them with the latest forensic technology.


        Richard, Thanks for the reply…the Seafaring /mega stone people had some connections to both Georgia and Mexico. It looks like a Stonehenge “Cursus” is part of the site you have found. Amazing find! The darker skin people that build the Stonehenge in England and most likely all the ancient stone works of Northern Europe and perhaps the Mediterranean area…and ARE connected to both sides of the Atlantic. They are known now as not being related to the “Bell Beaker” people based on DNA results in England. Likely some moved over to Wales, Ireland and Scotland when the Bell Beaker arrived. The bell Beaker people only built wood henges…. and moved/ rearranged the Stonehenge site in England.


    Hi Richard, I tramp around in the woods in the Edgefield and McCormick counties of South Carolina a good bit and I am continually finding groups of stone piles on US Forest Service property (there are thousands of acres of Forest Service property here). At first I assumed the piles of rocks were from the original farmers clearing the fields but many of them just do not make sense based on the locations of the piles and the way they are arranged. The piles are round, look like they were originally 4 to 6 feet tall and 10 to 15 feet across at the base. Many have been dug into, I suppose from people thinking their may be something in them. Have you seen these types of stone piles and if so what do you think they are? Ceremonial? Burial? I have been thinking of going in and marking them with GPS to see if there is a design or pattern. Do you think that is worth the time? Thanks!

    • Max, it was the same people, who were in Northeast Georgia. Jocasee is the Anglicization of Soque-se . . . colony of the Soque. There are also two terrace complexes in NW South Carolina that were kept a secret by state archaeologists. One of the junior members of the team was royally P.O.’d about the secrecy and so sent me photos. They also found the round stone foundations of houses or temples . . . in perfect condition. For the past five years we have been keeping a record of all ancient stone ruins in the Lower Southeast on a GIS map. Any contributions of information for that map would be greatly appreciated. We need the latitude & longitude – plus altitude, if possible – plus, of course, a description/dimensions of the ruins. Thank you!


        Hi Richard. As soon as I get more data I will get it to you. Thanks for the information and for all you do in your research.


        This “protectionism” is rationalized by these govt. employee’s under the guise of protecting artifacts and locations. I have worked with these people long enough to know how they think. It is quite simple really and goes like this.

        1.) Protect your job at all costs
        2.) Be accountable for little to nothing personally (spread the responsibility out far and wide)
        3.) Don’t make waves and keep a low profile
        4.) Hang on for dear life until retirement (even if doing so destroys your soul in the process)

        I should print an addendum for all govt. employee handbooks.


    Thank you for all the fine work that you do and share with the public.

    • You are always welcome to join us on these expeditions.


        This is a kind and interesting offer which I have seen you hang out there on several occasions… I am curious about ground level reconciliation with some of the things you are finding via remote sensing. Remote sensing can and does mislead at times as we are trying to understand our world using some VERY narrow sensory inputs. I am 100% convinced and have been for many years that the recorded accepted history is so far from the truth in many instances, that a detailed approach devoid of nearly all accepted notions is required to prevent excess bias if at all possible. However, “accepted” history (how it arrived) needs to be understood as it can also hold a few missing parts of the mystery. My heart tells me that you are on the right track as you are looking in areas where fossil records show VERY long periods of high or decent primary productivity. This is where humans and other animals will dwell the longest. Stories of plants and animals passed down through generations, even if they seem like tales for children at times, may hold some clues as to the interconnection of things and cultures also. I also commend your use of language as a disciplined method to find possible connections also!!! Perhaps one day AI technology will be able to “back-test” all languages for patterns which could really help understand migration patterns also. The truth is out there, and I suspect if it all fell on us tomorrow, there would be a lot of very happy people, and a very big lot of VERY unhappy people. The would need to rethink exactly who they are….I’m not sure they could do it.

        • Keep in mind that I have been doing this professionally as a historic preservation architect since the late 1980s, when Landstat images first became available. At the time I lived in Northern Virginia. However, I try to go on site after seeing interesting features on satellite, LIDAR or infrared images.


    Richard, How did I miss this clue? Look at all the tribes of 100 BC Spain with the “Tani” spelling which is a connection to the Ani-Kutani (Fire priests). The people of Spain are related to the same Mega-stone works people of Sardinia who built a flat top Ziggurat. The “Ku” sound could be a connection with a Sumerian word: “Kuan” means “opening the Heavens”. “Ku-Para” land (West of the Mediterranean Sea) was mentioned in an ancient text related to Sargon the Great…

    • The real word is ani-Kitani, which is a combination of the Cherokee prefix for “people, tribe or clan” with the Alabama word for a priest, who ignited the Sacred Fire with sunlight . . . probably using a crystal. Kitani is derived from the Alabama verb, kitua, which means “to ignite a fire.” Today, kitani in modern Alabama means a “wizard”.


        Richard, I can only guess at what the sound “Tani” meant to those multi-groups of peoples living in Spain way back in time. We should expect some sound changes of different peoples that perhaps were connected to a band/clan of “wizards”/Druids. They do seem to be connected to an ancient symbol for a magnifying glass…found in Sardinia, England, Scotland. “Pi-tani” was one of the Picts peoples…another connection. Thanks for the Great articles.


    I am looking to purchase a 3D map of the soque/lake Burton area. Can you direct me?


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