Richard Thornton | Aug 9, 2017 | 5
Was there once a Pan-North Atlantic Culture?
The August issue of National Geographic Magazine features a fascinating article on the Neolithic stone architecture sites in the Orkney Islands of Scotland. Since 1850, the pristine ruins of stone houses at Skara Brae have fascinated scholars. After being fully excavated in the 1990s, they were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
Scara Brae was a Neolithic community on the west coast of the largest Orkney Island that was occupied between 3180 BC and 2500 BC. The designation, Neolithic, indicates that no metals have been found on the site. Don’t think cave men, however. These people were very sophisticated and affluent farmers. Their quarried ashlar stone houses contained built in furniture, fire places and bathrooms.
During the past two decades, British archaeologists have come to realize that Skara Brae was not an exception, but typical of the northern tip of Scotland. During the Late Neolithic Period the region was densely populated. There are many village sites like Skara Brae in the Orkney Islands. The most recent one excavated, was named “the Ness of Brodgar.” It was featured in the recent issue of National Geographic. These village sites are associated with a network of circular stone ceremonial sites, many of which predate Stonehenge.
The stone villages and stone ceremonial sites were suddenly abandoned around 2300 BC. This point in time coincides with the beginning of the Bronze Age in Europe and rise of a new civilization that spanned Denmark and Province of Skåne in southern Sweden. It also coincides with the appearance of shell ring villages on Sapelo Island at the mouth of the Altamaha River on the coast of Georgia. This is an important fact that will be made more relevant later in the article.
What the National Geographic article does not tell readers is that the earliest stone circles of Alberta Province and the circular mound complex of Watson Brake in the State of Louisiana predate anything in the Orkney Islands or British Isles by about four centuries. In particular, the Alberta Circles strongly resemble the earliest ceremonial sites in the British Isles, even though many are older. For about 20 years, Dr. Gordon Freeman of the University of Alberta has studied both the Canadian and British stone circles.
It should be emphasized that the peoples, who built the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age stone structures in northwestern Europe, were not either Celts or Germanic Scandinavians. They were bronze skinned, black haired ethnic groups, who were described by Roman scholars as having “different facial features than Europeans.” The Celtic Irish called them, Ciarraighe, which means dark or brown-skinned tribe. County Kerry gets its name from the Anglicization of this ethnic name; so does the term “Black Irish.” Modern Swedes, who are primarily of Germanic origin, called the aboriginal people of Northwestern Europe, Gamla Folk (Old People) or Jötunger (tall aborigines.) They were not considered Scandinavians.
Northwestern Europe was once a continuous stretch of continental European, known as Doggerland. It contained some of the world’s most advanced Neolithic peoples. At the same time, the Atlantic Ocean was substantially lower and narrower. The permanent Arctic Ice Shelf was much farther south. Beginning around 6000 BC, ocean levels began rising. The North Sea eventually appeared along with the islands of Ireland and Britain. The Atlantic Ocean became a more formidable barrier to travel and ocean currents, such as the Gulf Stream, changed their locations.
Meanwhile back in the USA
Perhaps thousands of ancient stone cairns (cylindrical piles of field stones) can be found in Eastern North America. For many decades archaeologists assumed that they were created by Frontier Era farmers, but the majority now are assumed to date from earlier times. The radiocarbon dates for the North American stone cairns have varied considerably. Stone cairns in northwestern Europe are associated with Late Neolithic, Bronze Age and Early Iron Age cultures.
The largest concentration of North America’s stone cairn complexes are found in the region between Atlanta, GA and Brasstown Bald Mountain, GA. This region corresponds to the famous Georgia Gold Fields. It was the Old Kingdom of Apalache, plus the locations of most of the stone agricultural terrace complexes and petroglyphic boulders in Georgia. This region contains deposits of the purest natural gold in the world, plus copper, a natural brass alloy, greenstone, diamonds, rubies and a gold colored mica that was used to finish the stucco on Apalache temples. The builders of the stone cairns in northern Georgia may have been different people in a different time period than those that built the agricultural terraces. Alternatively, the construction of stone cairns may have been a regional tradition that stretched over a thousand years.
During the past four years, Native American researchers at the People of One Fire have found extensive evidence of peoples living the Southern Highlands, who created petroglyphs, stone architecture and stone ceremonial circles. As discussed in previous Examiner articles, most of the petroglyphs found on boulders in the Georgia Mountains are identical to Bronze Age petroglyphs found in County Kerry, Ireland. Is this a coincidence? Possibly, but probably they are not. The Native Americans encountered by 18th century European colonists utilized very few of these symbols.
Three years of very intensive research went into the recent publication of my book, Fort Caroline, the Search for America’s Lost Heritage. That research included a comprehensive review of archaeological studies in the Altamaha-Oconee River Basin. There were some BIG surprises.
During the late 1930s, archaeologists employed by the National Park Service studied the mouth of the Altamaha River, which includes Sapelo Island. Their archaeological report casually mentioned the discovery of bronze tools and weapons along the South Channel of the Altamaha River. The authors also stated that other bronze artifacts had been found through the years by people living along the Altamaha River.
The archaeologists explained these bronze artifacts as being lost by early Spanish explorers or missionaries. Say what? The production of bronze weapons and tools ceased in the Iberian Peninsula around 600 BC. The Spanish Conquistadors did not use any bronze tools or weapons, except cannons and mortars cast from bronze.
In 1951, Phillip White, a highly respected archaeologist with Harvard’s Peabody Museum, found bronze axes in a stone burial mound on the Oconee River in east-central Georgia. Several other late 20th century archaeological reports for stone mounds in northeast Georgia casually mentioned bronze axes, wedges or chisels. None of the reports, including White’s, provided explanations for these bronze tools – other than vague references to early Anglo-American colonists. Say what? The British Isles had left the Bronze Age by 500 BC.
In recent months, Southeastern Native Americans have become increasingly alarmed by the appearance of ancient bronze axe heads and weapons at flea markets. They are being dug up by poachers with metal detectors at Native American town and mound sites. Gringo archaeologists are looking the other way, because according to their orthodoxy, Pre-Columbian peoples in the Americas didn’t know how to make bronze. Therefore these artifacts are not subject to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA.) Some sleuthing has identified archaeological zones in northeastern Metro Atlanta near the tributaries of the Oconee River as primary locations where these artifacts are being dug.
The interpretation of these bronze artifacts is obvious. Either Native Americans knew how to make bronze tools and weapons or there were Bronze Age Europeans in the Southeastern United States.
The cover of the August issue of National Geographic features the Standing Stones of Stenness in the Orkney Islands. The ceremonial site is composed of triangular, quarried stone stelae that are clipped on top at an angle. The shrine is believed to be the oldest “henge” in the British Isles, being only about 400 years younger than the oldest ones in Canada, but much older than the best known Stonehenge in southern England.
The National Geographic article does not tell readers that the aboriginals of the British Isles continued to build those unusual circles of triangular stelae throughout the Bronze Age. They can be found in Ireland, Scotland and England. Of course, the article does not tell readers that the same unusual stone shrines can be found at several locations in northern Georgia . . . yes, as the state in North America.
In 2013, People of One Fire researcher, Julia Sennette, documented the first such triangular stela in Fannin County, GA. The archaeological zone is in the Cohutta Mountains, not too far from a triangular fieldstone fort.
In the autumn of 2013 and in the spring of 2014, People of One Fire researchers found similar stelae in several archaeological zones in the northeast Metro Atlanta Area. They also found a shrine in Jackson County, GA, consisting of four concentric fieldstone circles; the outer circle being about 100 yards in diameter. Similar shrines can be found in Bronze Age Iberia, at some Moche Culture shrines in Peru, and in certain Late Formative Period sites in Mexico. The ages of this shrine in Georgia is not known, but is presumed to predate the 1800s.
This leads us to the current situation. During the late 20th century, several highly respected archaeologists identified stone structures and bronze artifacts that show strong cultural affinity to such structures and artifacts in northwestern Europe. Perhaps out of fear of ostracism from their peers, these archaeologists made no effort to explain the incongruities of these structures and artifacts with their profession’s orthodox explanation of North America’s past.
This is not a situation akin to the Eurocentric amateurs of the late 20th century, such as Barry Fell, who sought to explain every cultural achievement by Native Americans via Pre-Columbian migrations from the Old World. In fact, as recognized by Gordon Freeman in Alberta, the preponderance of evidence so far suggests a Pan-North Atlantic culture in which ideas moved back and forth across the Atlantic. The original builders of England’s Stonehenge may well have been cousins of American Indians. Certainly, the aboriginal people of Ireland appear to have been related to American Indians or Eskimos.
The Apalache Foundation in Georgia in the near future plans to retain the services of a prominent Midwestern archaeologist, who has 30 years of experience with indigenous stone architecture and archaeo-astronomy to study some complex, stone ceremonial circles on mountain tops. Forensic geologists and chemists will be needed to determine the age of the quarried stone structures and bronze artifacts. Until that time, their only non-speculative description can be that they are real.
While a highly frustrated minority of North American archaeologists has studied the ancient stone structures in their continent, a far too prevalent pattern in their profession has been to attack and shun anyone who investigates these enigmas with preadolescent shouts of “Psuedo-archaeology! . . . amateur archaeologist! or self-styled historian!” However, if one does not ask questions, one does not get any answers. An archaeologist, who does not ask questions, is not a scientist, but merely a technician, who . . . like a trained parrot . . . regurgitates back whatever his or her professors taught back in college. What they were taught was obviously not the whole story.
Have a great week!
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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.
Latest posts by Richard Thornton (see all)
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- Atlanta’s leaders are right . . . Don’t erase the Old South’s history! - August 15, 2017
- Update: Bronze Age research appears to be headed toward an astonishing discovery - August 15, 2017