Ocmulgee National Monument, (Mound Complex) Georgia
National Park & Museum—located at Macon, GA on U.S. Highway 80, 1207 Emery Highway
By Dr. Greg Little
Portions of this article come from the Illustrated Encyclopedia of Native American Mounds & Earthworks.
Ocmulgee, a Muscogean word meaning, “where they sat down,” is one of the most important and unique mound sites in America. It is one of the sites we will visit (with Brent & Joan Raynes) during the A.R.E.’s “Georgia Mound Builders Tour” scheduled for May 2-6, 2012: http://www.edgarcayce.org/are/aretours.aspx
The itinerary and costs of the tour can be found in a pdf file: http://www.edgarcayce.org/are/pdf/tours-Georgia-Mound-itinerary.pdf
While the Ocmulgee mounds are attributed to the Mississippian mound culture, according to archaeologists the site itself was inhabited as early as 9,700 B.C. evidenced by Clovis artifacts recovered there during excavations. More recent evidence points to continuous inhabitation of the site for the past 17,000 years. The first mounds at the site were constructed from shell midden near the Ocmulgee River, which is adjacent to the complex. However, the largest mounds there were erected around A.D. 900. Ocmulgee is also one of the major American mound complexes showing strong ties to ancient Mexican cultures, with some of the major links between the Mexican and American sites being corn, a specific type of tobacco, and various clothing depicted on stature figures found there. Legends of the Muscogean tribes (later known as the Creeks) also point to a Mexican influence. Some archaeologists speculate that when the Teotihuacan pyramid culture near Mexico City collapsed around A.D. 600, Mexican pyramid-builders migrated north into Louisiana, Texas, and eventually other states bringing what we today call the Mississippian culture.
At the center of the over 1000-acre National Park sits what appears to be a large conical mound, but it is actually a huge earthlodge. The earthlodge is a large circular underground room accessed through a narrow tunnel. The lodge was excavated and restored revealing 50 seats arranged into a circle on the outer wall of the lodge. The seats were formed from the clay floor of the structure. Centered on three elevated main seats of the circular arrangement is a fantastic eagle effigy formed on the floor of the lodge. A fire pit is in the middle of the floor.
There are 7 mounds remaining at Ocmulgee with the largest called the “Great Temple Mound.” It is a truncated pyramid 55-feet in height with a base of 300 by 270-feet. On its flat-topped summit, large wooden structures, either temples or houses for the elite, once stood. A high-quality museum is also at the site.