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Winter Solstice 2018 . . . Indigenous towns that were solar calendars

Winter Solstice 2018 . . . Indigenous towns that were solar calendars


How the Southeastern Indigenous Calendar has changed through the centuries

Because from a very early date, the indigenous peoples of the Southeastern United States oriented their shrines and then their towns to objects in the heavens, we can usually tell what time in the year marked the renewal of their solar calendar.   For example,  about 150 yards west of my house is an ancient mountaintop worship site, very similar in size and shape to the “Old Stone Fort” in Manchester, TN.  It and the Tennessee shrine are oriented to the Winter Solstice Sunset.  On the other hand, the ceremonial gate of the mountaintop shrine at Fort Mountain, GA is oriented due south.  The calendar of its builders began on the Summer Solstice.  We will now take a journey back in time to chart the changes to shrine and town plans, plus approximately when they occurred. 

The Bilbo Mound (c. 3545 BC) is the oldest known architecture in North America. Both it and the nearby Dulaney Mound (2800 BC) have the same 15 1/2 degree alignment as Teotihuacan.  Archaeologists have recently found the timbers of a platform village in the pond surrounding the mound.

Comparison of symbols at the Nykoping Petroglyphs to those at Track Rock Gap

It is hard to believe, but today marks the sixth anniversary of the premier of America Unearthed on the History Channel.  Attached to my annual Christmas Epistle, I wrote a note to Scott Wolters that I wish we could redo the show somehow.  I know so much more now than then.   I now realize that some of the most famous Native American sites in the Southeast were occupied over and over again by different peoples.  In fact, this is what the Wata-re chief near present day Franklin, NC told William Bartram in 1776.  Who would have thought that all but two of the petroglyphs on the boulders at Track Rock Gap are identical to those on the boulders at Nyköping, Sweden . . . which have been dated to 2000 BC!  Yes, it is clear that humans on both sides of the Atlantic at a very early date were aware of the solar azimuth and movement of the moon, stars and planets across the sky.

Oval stonehenges allowed more precise calculations of time.

Formerly, there were many stone circles . . . essentially stonehenges . . . on the mountains in Metro Atlanta and then northward to Track Rock Gap.  Two of the few that remain intact are on a hill top near the base of Kennesaw Mountain and on top of Alec Mountain, very close to where I live.  Although appearing to be extremely ancient, the Alec Mountain Stone Circle expresses sophisticated astronomical skills.  An oval shape allows for more precise calculation of the date from the solar azimuth.  There were also breaks in the stone circle, which marked true south and the azimuth of the Winter Solstice Sunset.  It is highly likely then that the earliest calendar utilized in this section of the Southern Appalachian Mountains recycled on the Winter Solstice.


Mandeville had the same alignment as Teotihuacan.

Around 400 BC,  settlements were founded in the Teotihuacan Valley in Central Mexico and at the Mandeville Town Site on the Lower Chattahoochee River in Georgia.  The city plans of both were tilted about 15 1/2 degrees.   The plans contain a central avenue, a pyramid of the sun and a pyramid of the moon.  Mandeville is a mirror image of Teotihuacan.  The elite of both sites abandoned the location around 600 AD and both sites were fully abandoned around 750 AD.  

Astro-archaeologists are still puzzled by Teotihuacan.  Its city plan seems to be related to the paths traveled through the sky of the Pleiades Constellation, moon and sun.  However, this angle may actually be a perpendicular line to the azimuth of the Spring Equinox Sunrise.  If so, the Spring Equinox was probably the time when their calendar recycled.

Soon after the Mandeville site was abandoned,  Patauli,  the Singer-Moye town site, was founded about 35 miles north of Mandeville, which also had the 15 1/2 degree angle.  It was a much larger town, but also contained a cluster of mounds, which replicated the Pleiades.

Patauli (Singer-Moye Mounds) replicated the Pleiades and was tilted 15 1/2 degrees like Teotihuacan and the nearby Mandeville Site.


Kolomoki, east of Mandeville, was aligned to the Spring Equinox Sunset. It was occupied from around 100 AD to 750 AD.


The Kenimer Mound (c. 600 AD) faced due east to mark the Summer Solstice Sunrise.


The Ocmulgee Acropolis (c. 900 AD) was aligned to the Winter Solstice Sunset.  This represented the Mesoamerican calendar.


The great mound of Etula (Etowah Mounds) [c. 1000 AD) was also aligned with the Winter Solstice Sunset.

The capital of Kaushe (Coosa) [c. 1375] was aligned with the Summer Solstice Sunset.  This marked the birth of the Creek Green Corn Festival.

Today is the sixth anniversary of the premier of America Unearthed

I had just moved into a dilapidated rental cabin that was partially burned.  I was horrified that the History Channel was filming there . . . especially when five vans and an SUV showed up with a million dollars of filming equipment.  The locale made it easy for Caucasian archaeologists in Georgia to paint me as an ignorant hick, when I actually had 8 years of college, a fellowship in Mexico and two professional certifications.  The weird sound that you hear in the background is a 16 inch long lizard in my garden that is only supposed to live in southern Mexico and Central America.  It is only found in Georgia within the region where several Itza Maya terrace complexes were constructed about a thousand years 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.



    Oh my goodness! I was just thinking the same thing when I was recently listening to a Scott Wolter interview on the Dec. 9 episode of Coast to Coast. . . .

    • Maybe next year I can find a professional film-maker that can work with us to do an update.


    Happy Winter Solstice, Richard! Wishing you strong ties to your ancestors as you gather strength and courage for the new beginning come Spring. I’ll be sending a piece by Ghost Dancer telling of his teaching to the brothers and the focus of his 4-day Winter Solstice fast which will end tonight.

    • Mvto Beloved Creek Sister! We always learn from and enjoy teachings from Brother Ghost Dancer.


    I was just getting ready to say that you’re way too polite with academics who deny direct evidence that dispute their ongoing theories when the host of America Unearthed said “there’s a whole host of academics who refuse to believe that there were cultures who came to North America prior to Columbus, and it’s bull(bleep)”,, the scientific swamp in America needs to be drained along with the political one


    Richard, More amazing connections from you! With the Savana sites 15.5 North alignment dating much earlier than the same in Mexico means some people moved towards the West but continued this Star alignment in Georgia after the Teotihuacan trade empire collapsed. From what I have read Pleiades has to do with the Winter Solstice from ancient times with different cultures of South America (?), France (9000 BC), and later in the Middle East 2300 BC.

    • Thank you Mark! That’s why the People of One Fire was intended to be a team of researchers, sharing their discoveries. I could never figure out what the connection was between the Pleiades and the computation of a solar calendar!


      perhaps it’s hard arguing Mayan’s migrated to Georgia because the evidence points to the opposite, that they came from northeast America, and didn’t so much go back as never left, were rather everywhere they’d been and gone at the same time,, this would seem to be the normal way it happens, some leave or are pushed away while others stay,,

      have you ever heard anyone suggest Clovis First included migrating to Europe, or that the Solutrean Hypothosis included a pacific crossing? it seems in many respects to history and archaeology, science is stuck in belief systems that predate technologies that can actually prove them wrong or right,, a lot of the sciences seem to be stranded in that same ongoing mode protecting the expertise of their antiquated authors, they rather balk at the notion that there was ever any need to take it to the next level

      in my book, it’s not because lack objective integrity, rather it was all meant to be a lie in the first place

      • Actually, the Miccosukee, Kaushete and Itsate Creeks have migration legends, which describes the specific routes that their ancestors took from a collapsing Maya civilization to Georgia. These migration legends were written down by British officials in the early 1700s, but ignored by contemporary academicians.


          palygorskite clay from Georgia found at Mayan ruins indicate Mayan previous contact with Georgia inhabitants, maybe why they later fled there,, as you suggest in other writings about indigenous American coming here from Ireland, perhaps they moved down the east coast, through Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico, then to Mexico where they founded Mayan civilization,, and when it collapsed, retreated back along the same northern path their ancestors migrated down

          • There is so much we don’t know still. However, it seems that most of the researchers asking the questions reside outside the hallowed halls of university anthropology programs.


            like I pointed out before, there’s so much I can show you that you haven’t acknowledged any interest in, and you’re not even an anthropologist

          • Bobby I have a lot on my plate right now – not the least of which is that I have been without my car since December 11. This is the Christmas Holidays. You just showed up on a process that has been going on since 2003. I don’t get paid for this and only two other people out of 18 are occasionally contributing articles.


            not trying to be an asshole, just saying as a matter of fact, that’s the same response I get from experts in related fields, makes me wonder if that’s why the big picture never seems to come together, everyone is too busy, seriously, that might be a big part of it,, sounds like what we need is a benefactor, because I’m too busy for it too

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