Archaeologists believe this site was the principal village in the region between 1,000 - 1,500 AD. It's easy to see why this rich valley was a popular place to live. The Etowah River flows through the property, and the mounds provided a safe retreat from the almost annual flood waters that breached its banks. The flood waters of the Etowah also brought rich silt (and gold) from the mountains and provided the valley with resources unmatched in the region.
When visiting this historic park, one of the first things you learn is that the entire site is considered "sacred ground" by the descendants of the original inhabitants. In times past, members of the Muscogee (Creek) Families buried their loved ones under their river-cane beds when they passed. Over several hundred years, most of the village became one large cemetery. What this means today is archaeological excavation is next to impossible. Only one of the site's mounds has been fully excavated, but it revealed a tremendous amount insight into the lifestyle of ancient city's inhabitants.
The Etowah Indian Mounds were built over many generations, each adding its own later. One mound, the tallest, was dedicate to the Chief. Another mound was dedicated to the superstar ball players (little has changed in 1,000 years). The excavated mound was found to be a mortuary mound, final resting place for over 300 highly regarded tribe members. Opinions differ as to the significance of the mounds. I have my opinions, but I'm hardly an expert. To become more educated, visit the Etowah Indian Mound's official website.
When we first arrived, we recognized the expert as someone that Rebecca (Mommy) had once worked with in the Georgia Department of Education. So we had to cut-up with him a little. Chris turned out to be a very good guide. His presentation was educational and fun. It was more entertaining than we expected, and more fun than we'd ever dreamed.
We learned about he large moat-like ditch and walls that enclosed the plaza. We learned about the roles of the men and women of the tribe, and the importance of ball games in the society. We climbed a 60' chieftain's mound, and learned how the Creek made canoes that could navigate from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.
Finally, we visited the park's museum that displayed period artifacts that had a tremendous resemblance to Aztec and Inca designs. The tools, ornamental beads, weapons, utensils, and stone effigies all looked very similar to those scattered across North and South America.
When we started this
tour of the Etowah Indian Mounds, one or more of the kids were
not happy campers. By the end, they didn't want to leave. If
that's not an endorsement, I don't know what is.