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Very similar copper artifacts found in North Georgia and Yucatan

Very similar copper artifacts found in North Georgia and Yucatan



Super-sleuth Ed Reilly sent the People of One Fire a fascinating excerpt from an old book last night.  It is an account of early conquistadors, who made contact with the Mayas in the early 1500s.  They were carrying copper alloy hatchets with curved wooden handles . . . identical to those unearthed at Etowah Mounds in Northwest Georgia.  The Maya traders also carried copper discs (gorgets) and crucibles for melting copper.

There is a strange contradiction between what one sees in museums and the description of the cultural levels of indigenous peoples in eastern North America in textbooks.  One sees sophisticated copper weapons and artifacts in the region near the Lake Michigan Copper Deposits and in the Lower Southeast, yet the books describe these people as living in the Stone Age.

New POOF readers probably wonder why I focus so much of my own research into the ancient history of the Southern Appalachians.  The reason is simple.  The headwaters of the Coosa, Etowah, Chestatee, Chattahoochee, Little Tennessee, Savannah, Tallapoosa and Oconee Rivers are ALL in the Georgia Gold-Copper-Greenstone Belt.  Minerals mined here could be shipped by canoe to most of eastern North America.



In 1565, when Lt. La Roche Ferrière returned to Fort Caroline after spending six months among the Apalache, Itsate, Mayacoa (Maya People) and Ustanauli Peoples in Middle and North Georgia, he gave Captain René de Laudonnière identical “hard copper” hatchets, plus samples of white, yellow and red gold. Ferrière also brought back chunks of greenstone from near the gold deposits, from which Native Americans in the eastern United States made their finest axe heads and wood wedges. Fort Caroline’s colonists had already discovered that the local Native tribes on the coast of Georgia and South Carolina had gold neck chains, gold foil and silver pendants that they had obtained in trade from the Apalachen Mountains

A metallurgist in the garrison at Fort Caroline could not figure out what was added to the copper to make it have the properties of brass. He also determined that the gold samples were the purist raw gold that had ever analyzed.

For decades, Florida academicians have dissed this account by saying that “there is no copper in the Georgia Mountains, no such thing as “hard copper” or red gold . . . plus everybody knows that the Apalache were in Florida and there is no gold in Florida.”  Greenstone is a particular hard form of jade.  The academicians knew for a fact that greenstone was only found in Central America and southern Mexico.

First of all, the real Apalache lived on the southern edge of the Appalachian Mountains.  Apalachen was the plural of Apalache in their language, which was a mixture of Panoan from Peru, Itza from southern Mexico and Muskogean from northeastern Mexico.  Nevertheless, these Florida anthropologists should pay a visit to the Georgia Gold Museum in Dahlonega. 

The geologists at the Gold Museum will tell doubters that there is indeed three types of gold . . . yellow, white and red . . . found in them thar hills. The purest natural gold in the world is found near Dahlonega, Georgia.

Furthermore, copper ore was mined commercially in extreme southeastern Tennessee and the North Central Mountains of Georgia until the late 20th century.   It was smelted in Copper Hill, Tennessee.  The copper mines near gold veins in the Chestatee River Basin near Dahlonega and Gainesville also had a peculiar property.  The copper is naturally mixed with zinc and gold, producing a copper alloy very similar to brass.  One particularly large copper mine near Dahlonega supplied this special type of copper to the U.S. military effort during World War II.  As the Spanish Conquistadors described, this natural brass can be polished to a mirror-like finish. 

There are several credible eyewitness reports by Spanish and French explorers that the Chiska People in Eastern Tennessee knew how to smelt copper ore into pure copper and create copper items in molds.  They exported their surplus copper creations to other regions of North America.  Yet, over and over again one reads in professional anthropological journals that the indigenous peoples of eastern North America only knew how to beat nuggets of pure copper into copper sheets.  Supposedly they had no knowledge of metallurgy beyond the shaping of naturally pure metals into simple forms.

As for greenstone . . . there is a ridge of extremely hard greenstone that stretches from near the site of the great town of Kusa on the Coosawattee River to the northwestern part of Georgia to tip of northwestern South Carolina. The best quality greenstone comes from just north of Dahlonega, near US Hwy. 19, which was known to the Creeks as the Great White Road (Nene Hvtke Rakko). It would have been superior for making tools than any greenstone in Mesoamerica. 

Where the greenstone belt adjoins the Dahlonega Copper Belt one can find gem quality jadeite . . . a form of greenstone that is brighter green and serpentine, which is a jadeite that is more olive drab in color.  The greenstone in North Georgia, traded to Natives around North America to make their finest axes and wedges, polishes to a greenish-gray color.  There is beautiful green marble on the upper Etowah River, which begins west of Dahlonega.  It looks like jade  So, both the Spanish Conquistadors and René de Laudonnière were telling the truth about the brass-like copper, high quality gold jewelry, jade ornaments and greenstone that they observed.


Copper and bronze artifacts are rarely discussed in Mexico

The ONLY time I recall copper tools and weapons being discussed in Mexico was during the initial orientation meeting I had with Dr. Román Piña Chán, Director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia.  He was looking at photos and drawings of copper artifacts, unearthed at Etowah Mounds, in a book that I had given him. 

Dr. Piña Chán told me that the copper art, weapons and tools from Georgia were superior to anything produced in Mexico.  He asked me why there were no gold artifacts pictured in the book, because gold is much easier to work than copper.  Was there no gold in Georgia?  I told him that there was lots of gold in Georgia.  The Gold Belt ran just east and south of Etowah Mounds, so I had no explanation for the lack of gold art.

Bronze hatchets on display in the National Museum of Anthropology

I don’t recall discussing copper or bronze artifacts with other archaeologists in Mexico. However, as can be seen at right, there is now such an exhibit and the hatchets look just like the copper and brass ones found at Etowah Mounds.  Anthropology textbooks, published in the United States, NEVER mention bronze weapons being used in Mexico.

As for the copper hatchets described by the Conquistadors, I can’t even recall seeing them in a Mexican museum.  However, I did a Google search with “hachas de cobre en México” and was shocked to find that while the English language edition of Wikipedia never mentions this, the Spanish language version tells us that Post Classic Period peoples in Mexico made BRONZE and copper axes/hatchets for cutting trees and for warfare.   The Post Classic Mayas in Yucatan used BRASS hatchets and axes made from an unknown source of copper, because the atomic profile of their copper does not match the poor-quality copper found in the Guatemalan Highlands.


So . . . Gringo television documentaries, archaeological texts and Wikipedia articles tell us that the peoples of Mexico were still in the Stone Age and only had stone tools.  BUT . . . if you know Spanish, you can go on internet and discover that the indigenous peoples of Mexico were actually in the Bronze Age.  There is a similar situation in the Eastern United States.


Artifacts from Southeastern mounds that few people have seen

In 1951, Harvard University archaeologist Phillip White unearthed bronze axe heads from stone veneered mounds on the Oconee River in Northeast Georgia.  These bronze artifacts were associated with Late Woodland Period and Mississippian Period burials deep within the mounds. These mounds were in the heartland of the Apalache Kingdom, which anthropologists do not know existed.

White made virtually no comments about the astonishing discovery of metal tools in ancient Native American burials.  Probably, this is because officially the Indians in Georgia were in the Stone Age therefore and in his profession’s word view, the bronze tools couldn’t exist.   White took the bronze axes back to Boston, where they were never seen again.

Copper plate found in Mound C

Most of the artifacts on display at the Etowah Mounds Museum in Cartersville, GA are left overs.  When Warren K. Moorehead departed Etowah Mounds in 1925, he thought that he had found all that there was to find at Mound C.  Like all the other carpetbagger archaeologists, who plagued the South from the 1880s to the 1920s, he took the finest pottery, statues and copper/brass artifacts back up North, where most ended up in private collections. In the 1880s Cyrus Thomas and John Rogan of the Smithsonian Institute did the same thing. Very few of these artifacts are now on public display.  The public is left with the impression that the ancestors of the Creek Indians in Georgia were far less sophisticated than they really were.

In 1954, archaeologist Lewis Larson started at ground level, where Mound C had been and then went down. Most of what you see on display in the Etowah Mounds museum dates from around 800 AD, when it was a Woodstock Culture village to around 1100 AD, which are associated with the portion of Mound C that was below the ground in the 1950s.  So the handful of copper hatchets on display in the Etowah Mounds museum represent the least sophisticated state of Native people living in that town.

Fortunately, Warren K. Moorhead sketched and photographed some of the most sophisticated copper artifacts that he found in Mound C.  Here are some of the illustrations that were published in his book on Etowah Mounds.  They prove that the indigenous peoples of the Lower Southeast were far more sophisticated than portrayed now in the region’s archaeology museums.


No one ever thought about comparing the copper artifacts of the Itza Mayas and Muskogeans because few people know it existed!


The Itsate (Itza People) Creeks were concentrated at three locations in Georgia . . . The Nacoochee Valley-Track Rock Gap area in Northeast Georgia . . . Etowah Mounds in Northwest Georgia . . . and at Ichese on the Ocmulgee River in Middle Georgia.  The chronology of the town sites in these three regions have identical chronologies to events that occurred in either Palenque, original capital of the Itza or in Chichen Itza, where they relocated in the Post Classic Period. 

The only location where yaupon holly grows naturally outside the United States is near Palenque, Chiapas.  Georgia attapulgite is found in the Maya Blue stucco of Palenque.  Chia (grain salvia) was grown on vast scale in Chiapas State, Mexico and the proto-Creek province of Chiaha in the Southern Highlands.  There must be a connection.

Georgia archaeologists refuse to discuss the extreme similarity of copper art symbolism in Georgia and Yucatan during the Post Classic Period.  However, there is one artistic theme at Etula (Etowah Mounds) that is particularly perplexing. 

The copper sacrificial knives on row three are identical in appearance to the (presumed) obsidian knives portrayed on bas reliefs at Chichen Itza in Yucatan, Mexico.  At Chichen Itza the knives are part of scenes in which the priest has cut off the head of a ball player or sacrificial victim.  Several copper and shell art pieces at Etowah Mounds show priests holding human heads, just like the priests at Chichen Itza. 

One shell gorget from Etowah Mounds shows a priestess holding a ceremonial mace and a human head. Her headdress is absolutely identical to those worn by Maya priests and priestesses of the god, Kukulkan (Quetzalcoatl). Is it possible that during at least one phase of Etula’s (Etowah Mounds) occupation, human sacrifice was practiced? One fact cannot be denied. The first occupation of Etula ended shortly after Chichen Itza was captured and sacked by soldiers from Mayapan.






The Truth Is Out There Somewhere!

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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, Marry Christmas!!! Chest plates were worn by the Native people of South Eastern Georgia as noted by the Dutch / French artwork of them in the 15th Century. That same type of “Cura” chest plates was also worn by the Inca people of Peru…and they had to be made of some type of metal alloy as copper alone would not stop a long bow arrow? It appears the bronze age had arrived by the 15th century in Georgia, Western Mexico, the Yucatan, and Peru. But where did the Bronze age start in the America’s? The Apalacha Nobles said they had marched an army down to Mexico and built a city. Perhaps the bronze age started in Georgia…who had trade connections with the Maya…who traded with the peoples of Peru. The Bronze age Proof was right in the Dutch /French artwork. Thanks for the Great articles.

    • Marry Christmas? Does she like outdoorsy things and folk music … like to dance and go hiking with outdoorsy dogs? Do you have her phone number? LOL

      And a very Merry Christmas to you sir!


    Beside Fort Mountain in Murray county Ga is a very old soapstone/talc mine where many old broken bowls carved from stone used to be by the hundreds. the talc stone is dark green and does polish well. It is also much different than long ago.
    I hardly know any old families up there who has not unearthed very hard copper tools of various sorts, including these pictured here. I found one my self camping in Walker county in 2014/15. The Pocket area.
    Also there is the GA Obsidian knives located out in Wyoming and Montana. I had some serious guys who wanted me to send them some from Pigeon Mountain to work. Many kinds of tool makers lived all over there. that green soapstone is well known too.
    so there’s that…
    Happy to be alive and see the sun here today. Merry late Christmas best wishes and may the longer day light help some of the darkness weary see more than the light!!

    • Do you know any of the families with these copper artifacts? I would love to have photographs of them. Georgia archaeologists do not seem interested in copper artifacts . . . perhaps they bring the archaeologists too close to the “Mayas in Georgia Thing.” I still insist that Pigeon Mountain was created by volcanic activity punching through sedimentary rocks. There are certain such geological formations in Mexico, but a geologist in Atlanta labeled me a fraud for even mentioning a 19th century newspaper article about an eruption at Pigeon Mountain.


        The geologist that’s throwing slander your way might want to mosey down to the Pine Mountain area. Liberty Bell Pool is fed by the same springs as Warm Springs. The difference is that Liberty Bell Pool is seriously cold, even on the hottest summer days, while Warm Springs is renowned for it’s hot therapeutic uses.

        A lava tube is the only way that I can figure the water can get heated in such a close distance.

        Also, there are articles from the 19th century about a sand island “erupting” off the coast of Florida that was 90 feet high and 1500 foot circumference, as well as as volcanic activity on Bald Mt, NC that made nationwide news in the day.
        I looked at the topoographic maps and noticed the center of Pigeon Mt is caved in. Doesn’t look like erosion to me, more like the beginnings of Crater Lake Southeast.

        Keep up the great work and many blessings to all for a wonderful and prosperous new year.

        • Raine, that is what I am thinking too. You can’t have hot water without hot rocks!


    Thank you for a most interesting post Richard. I hope you had a wonderful Xmas and wishing you a very Happy New Year 2018.


    WPA/TVA Archives photo #124FA152 of copper antlers found at the Fisher site, Fayetteville County Kentucky. There are other photos of copper artifacts that were found at various sites as well.


    Very Interesting. When I was at the small museum in Ducktown , Tenn. last year, their displays showed the progression of copper mining in the area from the beginning to the point that it stopped a few decades ago. The oldest artifact I remember was a small copper pendant or amulet that was labeled , I believe as “Native American” without anything more specific about it. This piece was on long term loan from the McClung Collection in Knoxville, if I remember correctly. You might want to take a look.


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