Monday, May 4, 2009

Etowah Indian Mounds

I had posted this field trip that we took last month, but in being new with this blog I accidentally deleted it so I am finally getting around to posting it again. We took a trip to the Etowah Indian Mounds in Cartersville, Georgia.

The Etowah Indians started building the mounds in 1000 A.D. & it took several hundred years to complete. Their village was built compactly on a field or plateau around the mounds. There were three altogether & the photo to the right shows one of the smaller mounds looking down from the tallest one.

They built their houses with a wattle-and-daub construction, consisting of a post framework, clay-plastered walls, and probably cane mat or bark roofs.

The mounds were built by digging up the clay close by & the ditch were they dug it from remains today. The tallest mound is approx. 63 feet high, covers 3 acres around the base, & is 1/2 acre on the top (which is flat). This mound is where the Chief lived. The second highest mound was 25 feet high & another leader of the tribe lived there. The 3rd mound that is still visible today is 19 feet high & this was the burial mound. A ramp with steps of clay, with log risers, led to the tops of the mounds.

The original steps were unearthed by archaeologists in 1994, but they were recovered & the modern stairway was built over them.
The Etowah were part of the Mississippian Culture which began around 700 A.D. These mounds were used between 900 - 1550 A.D. The Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto & his men visited the site in 1540. They brought diseases such as smallpox & measles which the Indians had no immunity for so a drastic amount of the population died. The rest fled & joined other groups & they eventually became known as the Creeks. The Creeks however did not pass down their history & soon later generations along with the Cherokee who came to the area had no idea where the mounds had come from. Research is still going on today & only the burial mound has been fully excavated.
If you would like to visit the Etowah Indian Mounds it is not far of I-75 north of Atlanta near Cartersville. For an enjoyable visit allow 1 & 1/2 hours. There is a museum which displays 400 specimens. A video is also shown in the theatre that seats 100 people. This is a State Historic Site so there is a small fee to view the museum & mounds (the Georgia Park Pass is not valid for this site). For more information go to or call them at 1-800-864-7275.

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