about 10 miles south of
on the South Fork of the Forked Deer River, is the
largest Middle Woodland Period (ca. 200 B.C.-A.D. 400)
mound site in the Southeast.
|One of the Pinson Mounds
it's a Tennessee archaeological state park and offers
ranger led tours. It's a day park with lots of picnic
sites and five trails. There is also a group camp
consisting of a central lodge containing sleeping areas,
kitchen and bathroom facilities and four cabins.
Visitor Center is unique in that it is build to resemble
a mound. You enter and are surrounded by a museum filled
with artifacts and art that tell the story of the
mysterious people who built Pinson Mounds. It is also
home to a theater and an archeological research library.
Their video is worth watching
to help understand the mounds and what is known of the
people who built them. Our ranger guide said it would
have taken 100 people 20 years to build. The
mounds-there were at least 17-were not dwellings. So why
all the work to build something not needed for day to
people must have had a deep belief system. The mounds
were used for burials both whole body and cremations.
Also the platform type mounds were probably used for
|A fossil exhibit at
Pinson's Visitor Center
ceremonial site includes a mound complex of more than
400 acres with unique earthworks dating to about 1-500
Mound, the largest in the complex, is rectangular in
formation and almost perfectly aligned with the four
cardinal directions. A trail leads to a viewing platform
built on top of the mound for park visitors. This mound
is the second highest
in the country at 72
feet. From the top you get a great view of the park
Besides the mounds, the park has
other interesting features. There are lots of wild life.
Our ranger told of the park and local beaver relations.
"We're in constant battle with our beavers. They keep
damming the river. All we can do is keep breaking them
Beaver are not the only
wildlife. You will find deer, wild turkey and lots of
bird life. The ranger told us, "We do have a bald eagle
Ocmulgee National Monument
|The entrance to one of
the Ocmulgee Mounds
The Mississippian culture
arrived near the present day city of Macon, Georgia
around 900AD. The huge earthen mounds at Ocmulgee
National Monument are all that is left of their
Actually these people displaced
an earlier group of nomads and started a farming culture
on the banks of the river. Several mounds and a
reconstructed earth lodge offer a glimpse into a way of
life that stretches back into prehistory.
I took a candlelight tour of the
mounds once and it was as if I could sense the presence
of these ancient inhabitants.
daytime tour reveals
detail if less psychic atmosphere. The park has seven
mounds. The tallest is the Great Temple Mound at 55
feet. These mounds are of solid earth for the most part
and were built to construct houses on top. Perhaps they
served as watchtowers of a sort of maybe just got the
inhabitants up away from the mosquitoes. One mound was
used for burials.
One of the most interesting features is a reconstructed
council chamber of the Mississippian people. with the
original 1000 year old floor still intact. You can
visualize the chieftains sitting in the circle of seats
facing the symbolic bird effigy and deciding tribal
|This floor is just as it
was 1000 years ago.
Visitor Center is filled with around 2,000 artifacts ,
the oldest dating to 12,000 BC.
is a short film here to help understand the
Mississippian Culture. The park also had picnic sites
and trails for hiking.
|Inagine the work
involved in building this with no modern tools
Rock Eagle Effigy Mound
The giant Rock Eagle Effigy Just
north of Eatonton, Georgia adjacent to the Oconee
National Forest is a stone mound or tumulus in the shape
of a bird with outstretched wings. The wing span is 120
feet. The body stands about ten feet high. It can be
viewed from a tower built for that purpose. The site is
on 4-H Center land maintained by the University of
Native Americans in the area
when the settlers arrived stated they didn't know who
built the mound. It was there when their ancestors
arrived. Scientist believe it to be built by a Middle
Woodland Period mound building culture about 2000 BC.
too far away is a similar mound called the
The area around this mound has recently been upgraded
into a huge outdoor classroom and park. It comprises
about 1,000 acres with trails, camping, canoeing or
kayaking, wildlife watching, playground and a swimming
beach. Two towers are built for viewing the mysterious
effigy. One theory is that these mounds were religious
sites perhaps associated with burials.
The site has interpretive
centers, hiking trails and is also great for birding.
Crystal River State
with six mounds dating back to pre-historic times is
worth a visit. An unusual feature of the site are two
upright ceremonial stones or "stelae," one with the
likeness of a human head carved on its surface
"Stelae" at Crystal River
These mounds the early people
left behind, temple and burial mounds, point to an
increased level of ceremony and social development.
Pottery, copper artifacts and tools were often buried
with the dead.
The site is within Crystal River Preserve State Park
making it unique in its marriage of ecology and culture.
The park is a wild 20-mile
stretch of estuary and shoreline bordering the Gulf of
Mexico. Its six nature trails are a naturalist's
delight. The park provides an interesting heritage/eco
boat tour on the "Monroe." The tour, called The Ancient
River Dwellers, takes you into the lower river and the
estuary and explains how the pre-Columbian inhabitants
used the earth's bounty to survive.
Whether your interest lies in
anthropology, ecology or just a fun boat ride you will
enjoy this 90-minute trip.
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