Thursday, January 21, 2010

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

Click here to return to the first post in this series.

This will be the last post on the Ocmulgee National Monument in this series. More to come on Fort Walton Beach’s Mound and the Etowah Site in Cartersville, Georgia, of course.

There’s much, much more to see here, and to learn. But it’s time to move on to the next site, the Temple Mound at Fort Walton Beach, Florida. And their celebrated museum.

Before leaving, just a few more notes and photos, and some more comments from the interview with Monument Superintendent, Mr. Jim David.

Cornfield Mound Sign A post or so back I mentioned the importance of agriculture to the societies occupying this site, and included a photo of large pits used to store corn. The sign above includes a photo of an ancient corn field being excavated by the archeological team in the 1930s. Click on it to see the detail.

And click here to hear Superintendent Jim David discuss the significance of agriculture to the successive waves of people inhabiting this site.

I’d like to know more about the agricultural technology employed here. And how it compares to other pre-Columbian sites in the Southeast. Ah, a topic for another visit!

Trench 1 Trenches of varying depth, some of them lined with clay, also have been excavated in this area. In fact, they surround nearly the whole area of central habitation at the site.

Trench 2 Archeologists disagree on their purpose. Were they defensive? Were they used for additional storage? Or were they simply created when earth was removed to build the mounds? More research here too is needed.

Southeast MoundThe photo above is of the “Southeast Mound.” It’s just a short walk off the path to the Great Temple Mound. There almost as an afterthought.

SE Mound 2 Little is known about this mound. It’s located outside the original trenches of the site’s occupied area. It’s only about three feet high. And not very large. Archeologists aren’t even sure when it was created. But it’s certainly man-made, as you can see in the photos above.

The thing that struck me after walking over to see this mound was that in any other setting this single mound could well constitute the main exhibit! Another example of the opportunities here for more archeological exploration. Who created it? Why? How long was it used? If it was used. And when? What relationship did it have to the larger, more dramatic mounds?

Toward the end of our conversation, I asked Superintendent Jim Davis what he would like National Monument visitors will take away with them when they leave. Click here for his response.

For all that, the Ocmulgee National Monument isn’t only about the past. One example of their keen awareness of the relationship between past and present is the annual American Indian celebration they sponsor each year. Always held during the third week of September.

Nearly every person in Macon I talked with about the Ocmulgee Monument mentioned this event. It’s far more than an American Indian goods “trade fair.”

Click here to listen as Jim David describes the celebration, and one memorable outcome of these events.

So, with much more remaining to see and to learn, it’s time to leave the Ocmulgee National Monument. I’ll have to come back again, and plan to stay longer next time.

I’ve hardly mentioned the recently renovated museum, for example. It alone is a great experience. Completely redone. Made more friendly to visitors of all ages. Even interactive in parts. Not to mention the paths and trails I didn’t have time to visit. I mean!

Special thanks to Superintendent Jim David and his staff for their cheerful help throughout the visit. And to the many people of Macon, Georgia, I met along the paths of the Monument.

Click here for the next post in this series.

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