Georgia Magazine - May 2020 - 36

My GEORGIA

By Thomas Brown

A glimpse of Georgia's
earliest inhabitants

36

Georgia Magazine

May 2020

GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

I

NATURAL RESOURC

ES

For more information about the Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site,
visit gastateparks.org/etowahindianmounds or call (770) 387-3747.

OR

GIA

DEP
ARTM

ENT OF

ticated enough to conduct trade across such a wide distance.
The mounds themselves are impressive. The site covers
a stunning 54 acres and is home to six earthen mounds, borrow pits (from which the residents dug out the material for the
mounds) and a large defensive ditch. There is evidence the
site was abandoned at least once during its 500 years of
existence but was occupied fairly continuously until shortly
after European contact. The central mound rises 63 feet into the sky
and is thought to have been some sort of home for the village priest/
chief, who would have enjoyed a gorgeous view.
My trip was enjoyable, educational and humbling. Like many Americans, I was under the impression that if you want to see ancient ruins, you
have to go to Europe, Asia or South America. But we're lucky in the United
States. Very few people in Europe will ever see the defensive ditches and
village ruins of Europe's original tribal peoples because there aren't many
left. If they weren't destroyed by the Romans, they were covered up by later
societies or demolished by countless wars over the last 2,000 years. In many
ways, our New World archaeological heritage is much more intact than the
Old World's.
Our ancient Americans left a lot behind. If you've never been to the
Etowah Mounds, I can't recommend it enough.
Thomas Brown is a history teacher and freelance writer who lives in
Clermont and is a member of Jackson Electric Membership Corp.
GE

had no idea that giants used to live in
Georgia. I recently moved here from
Alaska, where we brag about our
giant mountains and moose.
"The Indian Mounds were built by
an extinct race of giants," I was told by a
barfly in Dahlonega. I'd never heard
of these mound-building giants, and
this guy didn't seem like a reliable
source of historical information, so
I researched on my own.
Turns out giants did not
build the mounds-or anything else, for that matter. I
did learn that the Etowah
Indian Mounds are the
best-preserved example of
the ancient Mississippian
culture in the Southeast
and that they're only an
hour and a half away from
me. So I drove west to
Cartersville to see the
mounds in person.
I grew up in Europe as a
military brat, blessed with the
opportunity to visit all manner
of ruins. Castles, Roman roads and
aqueducts were regular features of my childhood,
so my eyes are always peeled for some evidence of
ancient life to be fascinated by and fantasize about.
Etowah did not disappoint. Thousands of
Native Americans lived here for more than five
centuries. And they left beautiful mysteries behind
for me to appreciate.
The small on-site museum is stocked with
splendid ornaments, effigies, tools and jewelry. I saw
copper arrow plates with exquisite iconographic designs-easily rivaling the craftsmanship and artistry
of Etruscan metalsmiths-all produced by Native
American artists without the smelting technology
available to their Bronze Age Italian colleagues.
The copper may have come all the way from
Cahokia, the largest mound site in the country,
almost 600 miles away in St. Louis. It is amazing that
a prehistoric, Stone Age society without the wheel or
draft animals maintained a society large and sophis-

To submit a My Georgia story, send the essay (no more than 500 words) and 300-dpi
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be returned. Published essays pay $100. Georgia Magazine reserves the right to edit
submitted pieces.


http://www.gastateparks.org/etowahindianmounds

Georgia Magazine - May 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - May 2020

Contents
Georgia Magazine - May 2020 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - May 2020 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - May 2020 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - May 2020 - Contents
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