History Channel Mayan
The US Forest Service Office in Gainesville, GA really did refuse permission for the History Channel and National Geo Channel to film the ruins at Track Rock Gap in Georgia. It was not a publicity gimmick. Both the Creek and Cherokee Indians used names for the province around Track Rock Gap than mean “Place of the Itza.”
Author: Richard Thornton, Architect, Urban Designer and Historic Preservation Consultant
The discoveries of several remarkable “stone architecture” complexes in the Georgia Mountains and Piedmont, during the last three years, are going to radically change the understanding of the Southeastern North America, prior to 1700 AD. They are massive in scale. Several are a half mile to a mile in diameter. One in Metropolitan Atlanta, which was destroyed by construction of a regional shopping mall and office park, was two miles long.
Although known to 16 and 17 century French and Spanish traders, the provinces of the Itsate in the higher mountains and the Apalache in the lower mountains and Piedmont, “flew over the radar” of most 20 century anthropologists. Archaeologist Robert Wauchope pondered over a few of the stone ruins in 1939. In 1951, Peabody Museum archaeologist, Phillip White, re-visited these sites and was likewise puzzled. Both Wauchope and White inspected a 300 feet long, U-shaped, triple-terraced ball court in the Georgia Mountains and couldn’t explain it. Their observations were subsequently forgotten by future generations of archaeologists.
While the national media provided brief, superficial coverage of the Track Rock Terrace Complex in 2012, there was a news blackout in Georgia. Discussion in Georgia of the spectacular Track Rock site, which covers a half square mile, had been squashed by invisible people with apparently infinite political influence. No journalist in the national media explained that there were several terrace sites in Georgia. To the media, Track Rock was just a “controversy” to attract readers and viewers for a day or two.
These discoveries did not “appear out of thin air” as one Georgia archaeologist stated in 2012. During the 1970s, three brilliant men, Dr. Arthur Kelly, Director of the University of Georgia’s Department of Anthropology; Architect Ike Saporta, a member of the Georgia Tech faculty and President of the Atlanta Archaeological Society; and Dr. Roman Piña-Chan, Director of the Museo Nacional de Anthropologia in Mexico City . . . planted the seeds that were to sprout four decades later.
The time of the Sun Lords
Maya DNA typically composes about 5-12% of the total Asiatic DNA of Creek descendants in Georgia and South Carolina. Eastern Creeks were forced to live in a dual world in which their cultural heritage was hidden from the public’s eye until the 1970s. They secretly maintained the cultural memories and watched over the sites of ancient towns. Most Oklahoma Creeks know very little about their heritage in the Southeast before the Trail of Tears. Two centuries and 800 miles separate them from the past.
Eastern Creek youth were told vague stores that they were “part Maya” and spoke some Maya words. Many bands of refugees had supposedly come from lands to the South in the past. Also, about 1000 years ago, “Sun Lords” had led followers from the south to establish great new towns.
It was only in recent years that I realized that the Creek word for “sun lord, ” henehaw, was virtually the same as the Maya word for “sun lord, ” hene ahau. Maya hene ahau’s were the siblings of Great Suns (kings), who sometimes journeyed to more primitive lands to start their own kingdoms. The Second Chief of the Muscogee Creek Nation has the title of henehaw to this day.
The first anthropologist to reinforce Creek cultural traditions about Maya immigration was Dr. Arthur Kelly. While a rising junior at Georgia Tech, I was in contact with Dr. Kelly one summer, while preparing an inked site plan of a Native American village for him. He mentioned to me that he had found ceramic artifacts along the Chattahoochee River, which appeared to be of Mesoamerican origin or at least copies of Mesoamerican artifacts. Some of them were found in the vicinity of the attapulgite mines at Attapulgus, GA. That fact would have great significance in 2012.
Why did they make marble statues of slaves?
Dr. Kelly’s belief in direct contacts with Mesoamerica so angered his peers, that he was soon canned by a clique within his department. Fortunately, just before that travesty, he, along with Ike Saporta were instrumental in a fellowship being awarded me to study Mesoamerican architecture and urban planning in Mexico. Both encouraged me to go after a PhD in Anthropology after I finished my obligation to the United States Navy. However, unexpected opportunities resulted in an Urban Planning degree instead.
The Mexican Consul in Atlanta was a graduate of Georgia Tech’s architecture school. He arranged for me to get VIP treatment in Mexico. The supervisors of my fellowship were to be none other than Roman Piña-Chan, Director of the Museo Nacional de Anthropoliga, and Ignacio Bernal, Director of the Institutio Nacional de Antropologia . . . two of the greatest archaeologists in the world.
Unfortunately, there was no space in Georgia Tech’s rigorous architectural curriculum to take Spanish classes between the time of being awarded the fellowship and flying off to Mexico. It was hard enough to work in the fellowship-mandated classes in Pre-Columbian architecture, commercial photography, ceramic arts, ceramic arts history and ceramic engineering.
On the kick-off day of the fellowship, Piña-Chan and Bernal were to give an orientation tour of the entire six floors of the museum. Bernal apparently assumed that I was from a wealthy Gringo family that was going to donate money to an archaeological dig. When he realized that I was a young mestizo student from a family of modest means, who was just beginning to speak Spanish, he glanced at his watch, threw up his hands, uttered “idiotas, ” and walked away. I never saw or heard from him again.
In contrast, Dr. Piña-Chan was quite empathetic. He was also a Mestizo. His mother was Maya. During the remainder of the tour, he and his beautiful graduate assistant, Alejandra, went to the trouble to teach me more Spanish words that were associated with architecture and archaeology.
The Mexican Consul had advised me that it was customary for upper level students to give their professors a gift at the beginning of a special academic activity. Since Dr. Bernal had departed, I gave both books to Dr. Piña-Chan at the end of the tour. One book was on the Native American archaeological sites in Georgia. The other was on the Native peoples of the Southeastern United States.
As I was waiting outside the museum for a newly befriended coed and aspiring actress at the Universidad de Anahuac to pick me up, Alejandra appeared and asked me to come inside again to chat with Dr. Piña-Chan. He has seen some photos and drawings in the books, which intrigued him. What particularly caught his interest were the marble, limestone, sandstone and ceramic statues found in Georgia’s Etowah River Valley. He asked me,
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