Moorehead Circle Reveals New Secrets

Fort Ancient CERHAS image

Recreation of the Fort Ancient complex.

The ceremonial life of Native American civilizations before the arrival of Europeans was far more complicated than the simplistic notion of powwows and dreamcatchers as presented by countless Hollywood movies. The Moorehead Circle, part of the Fort Ancient complex in Ohio, is one case-in-point. New research has shown that this structure was more than just a circular embankment of earth (which is quite impressive in and of itself.) This research shows the circle was surrounded by a ring of posts (200 in all) aligned with the summer solstice and the earth in the central firepit was brought to the site from some other location.  Special seating or standing areas for specific clans were also thought to be part of this structure. Read more at the article below:

The Moorehead Circle, located at the head of one of the major ravines leading up from the Little Miami River, was a triple ring of large, wooden posts surrounding a central pit filled with red earth. A 40 by 50 ft rectangular structure was located adjacent to this central altar. An arc of alternating trenches and prepared floors on the southern half of the circle may have been something like bleachers, though Riordan doesn’t think it necessarily had wooden seats. In an e-mail, he suggested to me that these floors could have been places where “particular social groups, like members of clans, were supposed to watch the rites that occurred at the Circle’s center.”

Read the full story here: http://ohio-archaeology.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-moorehead-circle-ceremonial-machine.html

Rock Eagle & Rock Hawk (100 AD)

Sapelo Shell Ring Complex1.SapeloShellRings Rock Eagle2.RockEagle ancient stone wall atop Fort Mountain3.FortMountain Kolomoki Mounds4.Kolomoki Ocmulgee Mounds5.Ocmulgee Etowah Mounds6.Etowah

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Rock Eagle effigy mound is the next oldest Indian mound site in Georgia after the Sapelo Shell Ring Complex. This Indian mound is an effigy in the shape of a bird with its wings spread. [View Gallery] It is believed to have been constructed by a Native American group around 2,000 years ago although originally it was thought to be more than 5,000 years old. It is one of only two such Indian effigy mounds known to exist east of the Mississippi river with the second Indian mound known as Rock Hawk [View Gallery] also located within Putnam county, the same Georgia county as Rock Eagle.

Rock Eagle effigy mound has a 120 feet wingspan and is 102 feet long from head to tail. It has a vertical height of 8 feet from the ground to the top of the chest. The bird’s head faces east, the direction of the rising sun. It is constructed entirely of white quartzite rock of various sizes. Many of the rocks were too large for one person to carry by hand and thus archaeologists believe they were dragged to the site on deerskins. It also contains several types of clay that were brought in from other locations since these clays are not found in Putnam county. Rock Eagle

A. R. Kelly and the University of Georgia excavated the effigy mound site in the 1950s. During this excavation Mr. Kelly found a single quartz projectile point and the cremated remains of a human burial.

Other rock Indian mounds exist in the state of Georgia that also feature human burials. These tend to be circular mounds of piled rock. Interestingly, the main body of the eagle is a circular pile of rocks over eight feet high. The wings, head, and tail are much flatter and don’t rise more than a couple of feet above ground level. Thus this mound may have started as a typical round rock burial mound and then with a flash of creative inspiration evolved into the present bird shape.

Zoom in to see the locations of Rock Eagle and Rock Hawk. Click on the markers for more info on the individual features.

Early European explorers in the region noted that Native Americans continued building rock mounds even into the early contact period. Sometimes these Indian mounds were built over the permanent burial spots of prominent warriors or chiefs. Other times the burials were temporary with the bones being exhumed later and the rock mound left as a type of memorial. Sometimes the rocks were piled on the spot where a warrior had been wounded in battle. Just as we build battlefield monuments and monuments to our fallen leaders, Native Americans appear to have done the same thing.

These same early explorers also noted that rocks were continually added to these Indian mounds by passing NativeAmericans. It was a sign of respect to add a rock to the mound of a fallen warrior or chief. Just as we add flowers to the graves of loved ones for years after they have passed away, Native American Indians seem to have honored their dead in a similar way.

No Native American leaders before or after have ever been afforded such magnificent burial monuments thus whoever were buried at Rock Eagle and Rock Hawk were clearly persons of great significance. Much later at the Etowah Mounds site in Cartersville, Georgia artifacts representing an Eagle Warrior or Bird Man were unearthed. Could Rock Eagle and Rock Hawk represent the burials of two of the founders of this cult?

Rock Eagle

The above artwork is available on a variety of gift items including t-shirts, posters, stickers, mouse pads, and more in our Rock Eagle Gift Shop. Buy today and help support future exhibits.

It is important to note that although these two Indian mounds are referred to as an “eagle” and a “hawk”, no one knows for sure if this is what the builders intended. In fact, they could just as well represent buzzards rather than either eagles or hawks. Considering that buzzards have traditionally been seen as symbols of death due to their black color and their diet of dead, decaying animals, it is not completely unbelievable that the Native American builders would have constructed a burial mound in the shape of such a bird. Both Rock Eagle and Rock Hawk are located on the highest points in Putnam county. Interestingly, Mr. Kelly also noted that both Rock Eagle and Rock Hawk may have been enclosed by a rock wall made of the same type of rock as the mounds themselves. This pattern of building rock structures, particularly walls, at high points in the landscape would reach its zenith at the next site in our chronology: Fort Mountain.

Resouces & Further Reading:

  • Jeffries, Richard W. “Investigations of Two Stone Mound Localities, Monroe County, Georgia.” University of Georgia Laboratory of Archaeology Series, Report No. 17. Athens, GA: 1978.
  • Petrullo, Vincenzo. “Rock Eagle Effigy Mounds and Related Structures in Putnam County, Georgia.” Unpublished manuscript. Athens, GA: University of Georgia.
  • Kelly, Arthur R. “The Eatonton Effigy Eagle Mounds and Related Stone Structures in Putnam County, Georgia.” Unpublished manuscript. Athens, GA: University of Georgia, 1954.
  • Williams, Mark. “Rock Mounds and Structures.” New Georgia Encyclopedia. 2004.

 

Carvings in Land Attest to Amazon’s Lost World

The earliest explorers of the Amazon recorded that it was filled with villages and towns. After European diseases swept the area and wiped out its inhabitants, the jungle regrew and hid all evidence of these civilizations. Later explorers would find no evidence of such civilizations and the archaeological community, in all their brilliance and wisdom, decided they never existed and were simply the product of the overactive imaginations of the early explorers. In typical academic fashion, they then went on to create theories of why no such civilizations could have existed based on the low quality of the soils. The theories became established dogma and anyone who suggested the early eyewitness accounts might be true were considered fringe, nutty Atlantis seekers. Yet the latest research verifies the accuracy of the early eyewitness accounts and once more exposes the flaws and blind adherence to dogma of modern academia. Read the New York Times story below about the discovery of geoglyphs discovered in “pristine” jungle:

RIO BRANCO, Brazil — Edmar Araújo still remembers the awe. As he cleared trees on his family’s land decades ago near Rio Branco, an outpost in the far western reaches of the Brazilian Amazon, a series of deep earthen avenues carved into the soil came into focus.

“These lines were too perfect not to have been made by man,” said Mr. Araújo, a 62-year-old cattleman. “The only explanation I had was that they must have been trenches for the war against the Bolivians.”

But these were no foxholes, at least not for any conflict waged here at the dawn of the 20th century. According to stunning archaeological discoveries here in recent years, the earthworks on Mr. Araújo’s land and hundreds like them nearby are much, much older — potentially upending the conventional understanding of the world’s largest tropical rain forest.

The deforestation that has stripped the Amazon since the 1970s has also exposed a long-hidden secret lurking underneath thick rain forest: flawlessly designed geometric shapes spanning hundreds of yards in diameter.

Alceu Ranzi, a Brazilian scholar who helped discover the squares, octagons, circles, rectangles and ovals that make up the land carvings, said these geoglyphs found on deforested land were as significant as the famous Nazca lines, the enigmatic animal symbols visible from the air in southern Peru.

“What impressed me the most about these geoglyphs was their geometric precision, and how they emerged from forest we had all been taught was untouched except by a few nomadic tribes,” said Mr. Ranzi, a paleontologist who first saw the geoglyphs in the 1970s and, years later, surveyed them by plane.

For some scholars of human history in Amazonia, the geoglyphs in the Brazilian state of Acre and other archaeological sites suggest that the forests of the western Amazon, previously considered uninhabitable for sophisticated societies partly because of the quality of their soils, may not have been as “Edenic” as some environmentalists contend.

Instead of being pristine forests, barely inhabited by people, parts of the Amazon may have been home for centuries to large populations numbering well into the thousands and living in dozens of towns connected by road networks, explains the American writer Charles C. Mann.

Read the full story at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/world/americas/land-carvings-attest-to-amazons-lost-world.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=world

Ancient Earthworks Electronically Rebuilt, To Become A Traveling Exhibit

Native American cultures that once flourished in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia constructed geometric and animal-shaped earth works that often rivaled Stonehenge in their astronomical accuracy.

A few are still extant – Serpent Mound in Adams County, Ohio, for example – but most of the region’s ancient architecture was all but squandered. Earthworks, from as early as 600 BC that stretched over miles and rose to heights of 15 feet or more, were either gouged out or plowed under in the 19th century or paved over for development in the 20th.

But now, this lost heritage from the Adena, Hopewell and Fort Ancient cultures is returning in the form of a traveling exhibit that will include virtual reconstructions of earthworks from 39 sites. The electronic recreations represent nearly ten years of work by an extensive team of architects, archaeologists, historians, technical experts and Native Americans. Project director is John Hancock, professor of architecture at the University of Cincinnati, working in partnership with the Center for the Reconstruction of Historical and Archaeological Sites (CERHAS) at the University of Cincinnati. The title of the project and the coming traveling exhibit is: “EarthWorks: Virtual Explorations of the Ancient Ohio Valley.”

The “EarthWorks” reconstructions will be the centerpiece within a 500-square-foot traveling exhibit which will also include a graphic timeline wall with cross cultural comparisons; a giant map wall of the Ohio River Valley (from the approximate location of Pittsburgh to Louisville) indicating placement of Native American earthworks; panels with diagrams, photos and text; and 3-D topographic models of five earthwork sites. The exhibit opens June 20, 2006, at the Cincinnati Museum Center. It remains at the museum center till Sept. 7, 2006. Later venues include the Ohio Historical Center, Columbus, opening on Sept. 30, 2006. Discussion are now underway for later exhibits in the state and nation.

Set amid the physical elements of the exhibit, the 3-D virtual reconstructions by Hancock and his team recreate the earthworks for school children and scholars alike. The centerpiece of the exhibit is a large screen on which the 3-D explorations of “EarthWorks” by a user at the touch-screen computer can be shared with a larger audience. Virtual exploration of a gallery of period artifacts is also possible at two stand-alone kiosk stations.

The project is built upon archaeological data gleaned from such modern technology as sensing devices and aerial photography as well as frontier maps and other aids provided by archaeologists to re-establish the location, size, shape and appearance of many of the region’s earthworks. Then, using architectural software and high-resolution computer modeling and animation, the UC-led team virtually rebuilt these massive structures and further created animated, interactive, narrated “tours” among them..

Funding for the traveling exhibit has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. In all, the NEH has provided close to $500,000 for the project. Additional development support over the years has come from the Ohio Board of Regents, the Ohio Humanities Council, the Ohio Arts Council, the George Fund Foundation, and in-kind donations from the University of Cincinnati. Add up all funding and in-kind donations, and project support totals around $1.5 million.

Octagon Earthworks’ alignment with moon likely is no accident

February 13, 2007
BRADLEY T. LEPPER
Columbus Dispatch
The Octagon Earthworks in Newark is one remnant of the Newark
Earthworks, recently listed by The Dispatch as one of the Seven Wonders
of Ohio. Earlham College professors Ray Hively and Robert Horn demonstrated in
1982 that the walls of this 2,000-yearold circle and octagon were aligned to the points on the horizon, marking the limits of the rising and setting of the moon during an 18.6-year cycle. The implications of this argument for our understanding of the knowledge and abilities of the ancient American Indian builders of the earthworks are astounding. But how can we know whether they deliberately lined the walls up with the moon or whether the series of alignments is just an odd coincidence?

In the current issue of the Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, Hively and Horn use statistics to address this question.

And while they acknowledge that they cannot provide a definitive answer, their analyses certainly offer compelling evidence to support their idea that the sites are among the world?s earliest astronomical observatories.

Hively and Horn focused on five alignments. These are the main axis of the site, which points toward the maximum northerly rise point of the moon, and the orientation of four of the octagon?s eight walls, which align variously with the moon?s maximum southern rise point, the minimum northern rise point, the maximum northern set point and the minimum southern set point.

They performed a “Monte Carlo” analysis in which a computer randomly generates more than 10 billion equilateral octagons, randomly aligned them to a compass bearing and then checked how many astronomically significant alignments resulted.

They determined that, even “making the most generous plausible combination of assumptions favoring chance alignments,” the odds that the alignments at Newark are merely accidental are about one in a thousand. Using more reasonable assumptions, the odds are more like one in 40 million.

[Read the full article here: http://www.dispatch.com/live/contentbe/dispatch/2007/02/13/20070213-D7-04.html]