Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Great Southeast American Indian Mound Tour of 2010. Part III.

Click here for the first post in this series.

Visitors Center Off today around 10:30 a.m. to visit the Ocmulgee National Monument. The American Indian Mound site that brought me to Macon, Georgia, during this tour.

Temple Mound 1 It’s hard to imagine just what would prepare the first-time visitor for a tour of this site. It is, in a word, overwhelming. Hard to imagine. You’ll just have to visit and see for yourself.

Well, “see” isn’t quite the word here. But many Monument’s visitors may do just that. Drop by to “see” it. On the way to somewhere else, probably.

Sign 1 They may have a look around; check out the video [well worth seeing, by the way]; visit the gift shop [dangerous if you’re a chronic book-buyer]; glance at the museum exhibits; and then take a hike through the Park itself. Ticking off the various must-see exhibits mentioned in the brochure. Snapping a few been-there-done-that pictures.

And that sort of lick-and-a-promise visit certainly beats no visit at all. Beats settling for reading most everything available on the Internet about the site. Or, scouring the 720 section of the local library. And the facility is arranged to accommodate that sort of visitor.

Map on Post But it can’t be compared to dropping by the Visitor’s Center, picking up a brochure with map, and spending the time necessary to actually experience one or two of the many exhibit sites within the Park. That’s what I was able to do today. Ah, the luxury of retirement!

Corn Storage Pits Here, for example, along the path that leads from the Visitor’s Center and Museum to the impressive Earthlodge, is an exhibit labeled “Corn Storage Pits.” That’s what it says on the sign. Fine.

But take the time to have a closer look. What do these storage pits tell us about the people who dug and filled them with corn so many centuries ago?

Corn 2 Well, they had a lot of corn, of course! But that tells us they had mastered the agricultural technology necessary to produce corn sufficient to require such storage pits.

It means they were able to save their harvest-time surplus for use during other seasons. Maybe even trade some of it to other, less fortunate, people. For items they needed. Or for personal security. Now, those sorts of things are worth thinking about! And the opportunity to sit on a bench right next to the actual site of such corn storage pits makes the thinking all the more interesting.

So, right from the beginning, recognize that a real “visit” to this Ocmulgee National Monument will require several days. At least. And even then most of its lessons will remain unlearned.

Ah, “unrealistic” you may respond. Or, not really worth the time. Or, if you are of a certain age, “boooring!” said in that tone of voice calibrated exactly to excite the most irritation in adult listeners.

17000 Years Well, if any of those describe your reaction, click on the photo above, and have a look at the message of this information plaque.

Human beings have been living and dying on this very site for at least 17,000 years. And that’s just what we know about. Further, archeological science has advanced to the point we have been able to learn quite a bit about those people. Information that is provided here, free of charge, to those willing to take the time to look, listen, and think about what they see and hear.

Visitors One further point tonight. During my visit I met and spoke with several groups of fellow visitors, and several individuals. All but two of them – one group and one individual – lived in the immediate area of the Mounds!

One especially interesting extended family group of seven said they visit here as often as they can. And have done so for many, many years. And they still have a lot to learn!

Next time we’ll take a closer look at one or two of the more spectacular exhibits.

Click here for the next post in this series.


  1. Beautiful tribute to a magnificent place! Thanks so much for sharing our treasured Ocmulgee National Monument with your readers. - Ruth Sykes, Macon Convention & Visitors Bureau

  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed Ocmulgee. I live in Macon and consider the place a treasure. On your next trip you should try to get out to Moundville in Alabama. It is staggering.