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.
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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