Is there an 1100 year old Maya site in north Georgia?


But that’s the story that’s making the rounds today. As of right now, the story Massive 1,100+ year old Maya site discovered in Georgia’s mountains, has already been shared over 16,000 times on Facebook.

But keep in mind that the website is an aggregate of all sorts of posts by writers from around the world. It’s the equivalent of an official looking blog.

If archeologists really thought there was a major Maya site in Georgia (where the Maya allegedly migrated to escape a variety of existential threats), then they’d be all over it. They’d be pushing past each other to be the one to discover the truth.

From the piece:

In 1999 archaeologist Mark Williams of the University of Georgia and Director of the LAMAR Institute, led an archaeological survey of the Kenimer Mound, which is on the southeast side of Brasstown Bald in the Nacoochee Valley. Residents in the nearby village of Sautee generally assume that the massive five-sided pyramidal mound is a large wooded hill. Williams found that the mound had been partially sculpted out of an existing hill then sculpted into a final form with clay. He estimated the construction date to be no later than 900 AD. Williams was unable to determine who built the mound.

Williams is a highly respected specialist in Southeastern archaeology so there was a Maya connection that he did not know about. The earliest maps show the name Itsate, for both a native village at Sautee and another five miles away at the location of the popular resort of Helen, GA. Itsate is what the Itza Mayas called themselves. Also, among all indigenous peoples of the Americas, only the Itza Mayas and the ancestors of the Creek Indians in Georgia built five-side earthen pyramids as their principal mounds. It was commonplace for the Itza Maya to sculpt a hill into a pentagonal mound. There are dozens of such structures in Central America.

And here’s one of the comments appended to the article:

For more, you can actually read Williams’ report on the Kenimer site here. From the summary:

Having worked in many areas of Georgia and seen sites over the eastern United States for over 30 years, I am forced to conclude that the Kenimer site is a very unusual archaeological site. Strange might be a better word. This site clearly was established by people during the Late-Woodland Napier period. This information alone is valuable, because this site may represent the only known Napier mounds in existence. A few other mound sites have small amounts of Napier pottery, but in no cases that I know, is there a single-component mound site of this period.

The nature of the Kenimer site is also strange. Its location on the steep slopes away from the floodplain of the Chattahoochee River would make village life difficult at best. Indeed, the Kenimer site is not a village, since the shovel tests show that the occupation is almost completely confined to the mounds themselves. There is no surrounding occupation. There is no “village”. Perhaps there is a true small village of this period in the floodplain of the river nearby, but its location has not been identified as of this writing. The Kenimer site, then, is perhaps best thought of as a special purpose site of some sort.

UPDATE: I have included some additional thoughts in a new post.