Wednesday, April 19, 2017

An Afternoon at Ocmulgee National Monument

Ocmulgee National Monument is outside of Macon, Georgia, and it made a good waypoint between Savannah and our evening plan to sleep somewhere north of Atlanta but south of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Battlefields.

We've studied the Mississippian mound builders before, and visited their sites at Cahokia and Spiro Mounds, and they always impress and fascinate me:

In these parts of the country I'll sometimes spot an unusual rise on a farmer's back field and wonder if they have an unattended mound there--just as I do with homesteads that abut these battlefields that we visit, I wish that I lived there, too, and could play amateur archaeologist on my property.

This is the Earth Lodge:

It was originally excavated and restored by CCC boys like my Pappa, and was excavated to the original floor, which was carbon dated to around 1015:

You're obviously not meant to walk on the mounds, of course, in order to keep them protected, so I always appreciate it when you CAN walk on one!

When the kids and I were studying the prehistoric residents of North America, I had SO much trouble finding solid, in-depth resources suitable for their ages--some dry elementary textbooks, a few good picture books were about it, other than some notable exceptions that I eventually dug out. It fit in with my memory of my own childhood, in which I learned very little about prehistoric (or current) Native Americans, but the lack of material was nevertheless shocking. It turns out that to REALLY learn about these prehistoric Native Americans, you have to go to one of their sites. The museums associated with most of them are amazing, containing more good information, all in one place, than I've ever found in books or documentaries. It's a shame that I can't simply photograph every single exhibit and caption... can I?

I photographed a few:
This explains why I ate so much cornbread as a kid!
These pots are coil pots, smoothed and then stamped. Syd sat riveted in front of a video in the next room that showed exactly how they were made. Matt bought them a little bag of clay excavated from the site, and the kids made their own stamped coil pots from it the next week.
The kids earned their Junior Ranger badges here, and it was overall an excellent detour, even if, by this time, we are all beginning to feel the end-of-vacation pull towards home.

No comments: