Giant, Carved Stone Balls in the Georgia and South Carolina Mountains
Last October a woman called me from Ohio, who claimed to be an anthropology professor, specializing in forensic botany. She told me that while on a plant-hunting expedition in northeast Georgia late last summer, she and her man-friend had discovered two giant stone balls that were very ancient, incised with Mesoamerican motifs, and perfectly round. She would not tell me what university she taught at. She then sent me an email with read-only photos attached that disappeared in 24 hours. AOL would not save the email because of the embedded self-destruction file. Needless to say, I was very suspicious that this was yet one more hoax. That is why I didn’t mention the communication until this week.
After doing considerable research, I now realize the significance of the stone balls. The woman was probably who she said she was, but was afraid of being caught up in a controversy. The giant stone balls are fairly common in the southern end of the Maya country and northern Central America. They are most numerous in Costa Rica and Honduras among locations where advanced, non-Maya peoples once lived.
I could find no mention of giant stone balls in official archaeological reports in the Southeastern United States. However, by contacting several Native American artifact collectors and traders, I did get confirmation that quite a few giant stone balls have been found through the years in the region east of Brasstown Bald Mountain, but concentrated along the rivers in Georgia and South Carolina that form the Savannah River. On the international “gray” market they can fetch up to $5000 for the seller. They are marketed as “Maya” artifacts from Central America. Since most now are stolen from federally owned forest lands, the process is akin to drug-dealing.
Up until the1720s, European explorers in South Carolina and eastern Georgia mentioned that the Natives spoke many languages. They apparently were under the domination of elites who spoke dialects of Itstate (Hitchiti) Creek. In fact, to translate many of the names of provinces mentioned by René de Laudonniére and Juan de la Bandera, I must use either Tupi-Guarani, Warao, Quechua, Itza Maya, Totonac, or Zoque-Mixtec dictionaries. Some words I still can’t translate, but they look either Central American or South American.
The gist of this particular article is that because of information and photos sent me by readers across eastern North America, it is obvious that the Track Rock terrace site is not unique as I stated for much of 2011 and 2012, but rather a particularly spectacular example of a culture (or cultures) that flew right over the radar of archaeologists. Because of geospatial analysis with GIS, the Migration Legend of the Creek Indians and some eyewitness accounts by Spanish traders based in Santa Elena (Parris Island, SC) I am pretty sure that the Track Rock site was the capital. The Spanish called the great capital on the side of Georgia’s highest mountain, Grande Copal.
The article also includes photos from the large terrace complex in Jackson County, GA that we visited two weekends ago.
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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.
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