Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Etowah Indian Mounds: Mound A

Etowah Indian Mounds
Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site
813 Indian Mounds Rd, S.W.,
Cartersville, Ga. 30120

The most intact Mississippian culture sight in the Southeast, the Etowah Indian Mounds occupy the site of a pre-European contact Native America village occupied from about 1000 to 1550 AD by ancestors of the Muscogee (Creek) Tribe.

The name Etowah, which was used by the Creek and Cherokee successors to the area, was derived from the Muskogee word italwa, which mean town. Early white settlers corrupted the name to Hightower.

The ancient village was a chiefdom with a highly structured social order based on kinship and social ranking. It was ruled by a chief who served as both political and religious leader.

Diorama of the village. Mound A is in the upper right corner, B upper left, C middle left.
Buildings in the village were constructed of interwoven branches called wattle covered with clay-based plaster called daub.

Etowah featured three large mounds A, B, and C, and three small mounds D, E, and F.

Mound A
The chief ruled from his wattle and daub home on the largest of the mounds, Mound A, a temple mound. Over sixty feet high, Mound A had a staircase of logs and packed clay 22 feet wide.

Mound A's staircase (seen in the photo on the interpretive sign) was discovered during archeological excavations.
The entire mound has not been completely excavated.

The temple mound overlooked the town's ceremonial plaza to its east.

In the town plaza, ceremonies would be held, visitors would be greeted, and
ball games would be played.

Town plaza

Great importance was placed on the stick ball game, which was the predecessor to lacrosse, and a game called chunky. Played by warriors, the games could often be used to settle disputes among tribes. They could often be rough and violent, with serious injuries or deaths. The Cherokee called the stick ball game "little war", the Mohawk, "little brother of war".

View of the Allatoona Mountains from Mound A

Ground penetrating radar purchased and used by the Muscogee Nation to avoid archeological excavations where there might be graves has revealed that the flat top of Mound A once supported at least four structures. Structure 1 was 59 feet square with an open interior and a portico on the east side. Structure 2 was composed of two rebuilt residences with partitioned interiors. Structure 3 was a smaller residence, and Structure 4 was an earlier building.

Top of Mound A

Ground penetrating radar, electrical resistivity, and a magnetometer also located evidence of small groups of houses to the north and west of Mound A clustered around small plazas.

View from Mound A

West from Mound A

West from Mound A

Looking south toward Mound B ahead with the Etowah River beyond the tree line. Mound A is on the right, Mound C out of sight behind it. The plaza is to the left. Houses would have been on the right on the north and west sides of Mound A.

Mound A

North side of Mound A
Residential area north of Mound A

Looking down on the back of Mound C

View from Mound A
The surrounding farm land from Mound A

Overlooking the plaza

The Etowah River from Mound A
Long way down

It's probably a good thing I climbed the highest mound first and saved the smaller ones and
the trek around the perimeter of the village for after.

South side of Mound A
Mounds B, C, and A

Continue to Part 2 Etowah Indian Mounds: The Ancient Village of Etowah
Continue to Part 3 Etowah Indian Mounds: Mound B & C
Continue to Part 4 Etowah Indian Mounds: Etowah River
Continue to Part 5 Etowah Indian Mounds: Trees, Plants, & Grasses
Continue to Part 6 Etowah Indian Mounds: 1550 to the Present

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