The Search for Celestial Serpents
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles tell of a horrific catastrophe on the coasts of Britannia, Ireland and the Low Countries. On St. Michael’s Day (September 28 in the old Julian calendar) the sea suddenly rose and swept up estuaries to drown well over a hundred thousand people. The tsunami destroyed many port cities in northwestern Europe. Between 30,000 and 40,000 people died in Wessex alone. Eyewitness descriptions, recorded in medieval monastery chronicles, are identical to those of the 2005 tsunami in the Indian Ocean or the 2011 tsunami on the coast of Japan.
What is even more terrifying is that the most violent effects of this cosmic event were on the coast of North America. The barrier islands on the coasts of the Mid-Atlantic States, North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina were destroyed. The Outer Banks of North Carolina are the remnants of those islands, which are still rebuilding. The islands off of Virginia, the Delmarva Peninsula and New Jersey were so thoroughly destroyed that they have not come back.
Geologists have found evidence of a thin layer of residue of this comet or comet fragments, which struck the North Atlantic that day several miles inland in Metropolitan New York City. Along the coast of the Mid-Atlantic and New England states, the impact would not have been felt as a tsunami flood, but rather an explosive and very deadly wall of super-heated sand and steam. All humans living on the coasts of that region would have been killed.
The indigenous peoples of southeastern North America and Mesoamerica believed that comets and meteorites were feathered serpents, which came down from heaven and landed on earth. Some branches of the Mayas worshiped a Celestial Serpent as their principal deity. One of the many misconceptions about the Maya civilization held by most North Americas is that it was a monolithic culture in which all deities, political systems and architectural styles were the same throughout. That certainly was not the case.
The 539 AD Extermination Event
Several of the geologists, who studied the effects of the 1014 AD comet impact, stumbled upon identical evidence for an even larger impact farther south in the Atlantic around 539 AD. Since all of the academicians worked at universities in the Northeastern United States or in the UK, little further study was done. The news of this earlier impact apparently has not reached most anthropologists in the Americas. The European anthropologist, who co-authored one of the articles on the 539 AD event in a journal for geologists, merely stated that the impact zone was “probably somewhere in the northern Caribbean Basin and may have contributed to the known cultural hiatus that occurred in Maya city states in the mid-500s AD.
Professional comments following these articles were focused on the Caribbean Basin. The effect of the impact in the coastal areas of the Caribbean islands would have been horrific. There would have been an almost 100% loss of life in coastal areas. Smaller islands would have been completely inundated. It would have radically changed the demographics of the Caribbean Basin and possibly wiped out some ethnic groups, since most villages were near the ocean.
While working on the Fort Caroline study in 2012 and 2013, I decided to look for possible locations for a large hill that might have appeared to be a “modest mountain” in the word of Captain René de Laudonnière. The Coastal Regional Commission in Darien, GA gave me a copy of their LIDAR scans for the Georgia Coast and northeast tip of Florida. There was a big surprise.
Although most visitors to the Georgia coast think of it as being pancake flat, there is an undulating ridge up to 85 feet tall that snakes its way down the coast. The tallest section of the ridge is also the farthest inland – 85 feet above sea level and 16 miles inland. This is the section between the Satilla River and just north of the Altamaha River. In northeast Florida, the ridge is fragmented, from 25 to 45 feet high and a maximum of six miles inland. In plan, the coastal ridge looks exactly like the debris ridges left by the tsunami’s on the coasts of Sumatra and Japan, except in Georgia the ridge is much higher and farther inland. The sections of the ridge immediately south of Savannah and Jacksonville were the closest to appearance scale of these recent tsunamis.
The size of the wall of water created by the 539 AD comet impact is mind-boggling. For the debris ridge to still be 85 feet high means that the wave was in the range of 200 feet high. Super-heated sand and steam would have ripped across the landscape ahead of the water like an atomic bomb blast. The ocean water would have penetrated about 75 miles inland. Rivers, whose flow was blocked by the tsunami would have turned into lakes all the way to the Fall Line. There would have been an almost complete extermination of human and animal life in this section of the Coastal Plain.
I drew a line between the ridge peaks. They created a section of an ellipse, tilted to the southeast. I then calculated the mathematical formula of this ellipse and extended it out into the Atlantic Ocean. The comet of meteorite struck the Atlantic about 170 miles north of the largest island in the Bahamas and about 100 miles off shore.
Archaeologists have often wondered why all of the Swift Creek villages on the major rivers in southeast Georgia were suddenly abandoned sometime around the middle of the sixth century. Now we know. They were washed away along with their inhabitants by a tsunami from hell.
At the same time a very large Swift Creek Culture town (Leake Mounds) on the Etowah River and the Swift Creek village near Macon, GA, suddenly began losing much of their populations. In contrast, Kolomoki Mounds in southwest Georgia continued to prosper for awhile.
Perhaps the climatic impact of the cosmic impact caused crop failures and reductions in natural food resources, but why wasn’t Kolomoki equally affected? It was closer to the impact.
There could be another explanation. If one extends the central axis of the ellipse I calculated on the coast with GIS, it extends right over Macon, GA and Cartersville, GA, where the Leake Mounds town site was located. Could superheated micro-bullets from the comet have impacted these towns also? They probably would not have killed everybody, but would have made a horrific impact on these communities. It is a theory worth investigating.
The Waka Connection
Very little was known about the El Peru’ Maya city site in Guatemala, until the Anthropology Department of Southern Methodist University began excavating the town about 15 years ago. The SMU teams discovered from reading the stelas that its real name was Waka. That was very significant. Waka was the name that the Creek People called Ocmulgee National Monument. Waka-te (Waka People) was also the name of the capital of the Lake Okeechobee, FL kingdom during the exact same time as the acropolis at Ocmulgee was occupied.
Waka, Guatemala is located on the northeastern edge of the Maya Highlands. It is the exact same distance from the ocean as Ocmulgee. Both sites are located on the Fall Lines of rivers and adjacent to former horseshoe bends that were used as inland harbors. Both towns were associated with the salt trade. Hundreds of Maya-style ceramic brine drying trays were found in Ocmulgee, but have not been put on display in the museum.
Waka, Guatemala was probably the most important trading center in the northern Maya region. It was strongly associated with the Chontal Maya merchants, who brought salt and other good up the river and via porters over a roadway system.
Palenque, Chiapas (Mexico) was located on the western side of the highlands, on a river that flowed into the Gulf of Mexico. It is the city where Georgia-mined attapulgite was found in its Maya Blue stucco. It was also the principal city of the Itza Mayas in Chiapas. Palenque was barbecued by a volcanic eruption around 800 AD and never reoccupied.
Waka, Guatemala was sacked by an army from Tikal around 800 AD. All of its aristocracy was sacrificed – men and women – but some commoners continued live there for awhile. It was permanently abandoned around 880 AD. Construction began on Mound A at Ocmulgee around 900 AD. Construction also began on several mounds at Wakate, Florida about that same time.
Archaeologist, Robert Sharer, recently announced that he has translated a stela that states that the victorious soldiers, who sacked Waka around 800 AD carried its Celestial Serpent away and put it on permanent display in their city. The Celestial Serpent evidently was the principal deity of Waka, in addition to being an important deity of the Itza Mayas.
There is a Great Serpent Mound in the Ortona town site near Lake Okeechobee, FL. There are many fieldstone serpent effigies in northeastern Alabama and northern Georgia. They were probably, originally coated in clay, as was the customary want of building serpent effigies in Mesoamerica. Now that we know that Waka also worshiped a Celestial Serpent like the Itza Mayas, it is highly likely that there was a serpent effigy at Ocmulgee National Monument. Perhaps it was destroyed by the railroad cuts in the 1800s, or it may be buried under the ground of the park, or perhaps has never been recognized
Bit by bit, we are drawing the lines between the dots that become a tapestry of the past. The history of southeastern North America was far more complex than anyone dreamed thirty years ago.
Still plenty of bank-foreclosed cabins in the Appalachian Mountains for sale to those who don’t like tsunamis! LOL
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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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