Kolomoki Mounds (500 AD)

First, it was designed with a high bow which enabled it to cut through the more choppy waters associated with open water ocean travel. Normal dugout canoes without this feature would soon take on too much water and sink.

Second, its length at over 45 feet is far longer than what is typical of canoes that traveled locally via rivers and streams. The size of this canoe enabled it to carry a large amount of cargo or trade goods across open water. Although this particular canoe dated to around 1000 A.D. this is still close enough in time to suggest that earlier people in the Gulf Coast area such as those that built Kolomoki Mounds could have had the same technology.

What Happened to Kolomoki?

While the true identity of the builders of Kolomoki Mounds is not known for certain, what is known is that around 550A.D. something seems to have happened to the people who inhabited the Kolomoki site. The population decreased and there was also a decrease in mound construction. Interestingly, these changes were in line with what was happening around the world at the same time. A major disruption in the earth’s climate seems to have occurred worldwide around the year 536 A.D. This was the most severe episode of cooling in the Northern Hemisphere in the last 2,000 years (since the 2400 BC event discussed in the Sapelo Shell Rings article.) An extensive atmospheric dust veil is thought to have caused this cooling event. In his book Catastrophe, author David Keys argues that this dust veil was caused by the eruption of the Indonesian super-volcano Krakatoa, one of the largest volcanic eruptions of the past 50,000 years.

Ocean impact of comet

A comet impacts the ocean in this artist’s depiction.

Yet evidence is mounting that an impact event caused this climactic downturn. Greenland ice cores from this time contain micro-spherules which originated from terrestrial debris ejected into the atmosphere by multiple impacts from a comet which broke up into several pieces upon entering Earth’s atmosphere. Marine sediments have been found in the ice core suggesting that at least one fragment impacted the ocean somewhere near Norway. This impact would have caused a tsunami that would have sped across the Atlantic impacting the shores of eastern North America.

Written records from this time period in Europe and Asia noted how the sun only shown for four hours a day and even then was very dim like during an eclipse. Snow fell in the summer and crops failed causing mass starvation. Plagues also were widespread. This was the beginning of Europe’s Dark Ages.

That a comet was involved seems clear from one account which noted “a star which certain call a comet, with a ray like a sword, appeared over that country through a whole year, and the sky seemed to be on fire and many other signs were seen.” Another account noted, “And the earth with all that is upon it quaked; and the sun began to be darkened by day and the moon by night, while the ocean was tumultuous with spray from the 24th of March in this year [536 AD] till the 24th of June in the following year [537 AD].” Another account notes how these calamities and plagues lasted for 52 years.

Coincidentally, Mesoamerican calendars operated on a 52 year cycle at the end of which a great destruction was expected in which the light of the sun would be extinguished forever. The famous Aztec Sun Stone or Calendar Stone was used to track this very cycle. To prevent this catastrophe the Aztecs would perform a human sacrifice on the summit of Uixachtecatl– the Star Hill.

The ritual began at the moment the Pleiades star cluster in the constellation Taurus rose above the horizon. When the Pleiades reached its zenith, or highest point in the night sky, the priests would slice open the victim’s chest and attempt to kindle a new fire in his chest cavity. If successful they then cut out the victim’s heart and the destruction of the sun was averted. (Continues…)


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  1. […] constructed at this time such as the Crystal River Mounds and Letchworth Mounds in Florida and Kolomoki Mounds in Georgia which is where much of this Swift Creek pottery has been found. The discovery of one of […]