Richard Thornton | May 9, 2017 | 23
Troyville Archaeological Zone Jonesville, Louisiana
A large town thrived on the Black River in present day Jonesville, LA during the same period that Teotihuacan dominated much of Mexico. The architectural form of the town’s massive principal mound is very similar to that of the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon in Teotihuacan. However, there is something else very intriguing about the Troyville Archaeological Zone. That massive mound in Louisiana was almost the exact same shape and size of the principal earthen pyramid at the Olmec civilization ceremonial center of La Venta in Tabasco State, Mexico. The two archaeological zones are virtually on the same longitude line, but a thousand years separates the construction dates of the two earthen pyramids.
The Troyville site was occupied between 100 AD and 1100 AD, with most of its large scale construction occurring between 600 AD and 700 AD. Some historians believe that it was reoccupied during the Late Mississippian Period and was the town of Anilco, visited by Hernando de Soto in the spring of 1542.
Louisiana archaeologist, Joseph Saunders, has theorized that the Zoque People, who founded the Olmec civilization, originated in Louisiana. The indigenous peoples in Louisiana were building large ceremonial mounds immediately prior to the beginning of the Olmec’s appearance on the Gulf Coast of Mexico. Saunders just may be on to something.
The biggest mound at Troyville was destroyed in 1931 in order to build a bridge across the Black River. Governor Huey P. Long was responsible for that travesty. Expansion of Jonesville into the archaeological zone has destroyed much of the remaining portions. However, citizens of Jonesville and the Archaeological Conservancy are doing what they can to save the rest.
French colonial archives, 19th century descriptions and satellite imagery, however, make it possible to re-create the appearance of the great Native town on the Black River as a computer model. You will see its probable appearance during its heydays.
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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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