Monday, July 06, 2020

Mayans in Georgia

Thought I would browse this YouTube, to recall the controversy.

I don't remember if readers are ok with the idea of Mayans in Georgia, or want to make fun of it. The videographer Scott Wolter is easy to make fun of. But the rock piles and stone walls are real. So permit me to take a position on the idea that there were "Mayans" in North America.

I believe that mound building cultures dominated America for most of the last 2 thousand years. We are told that the earliest mound sites (eg "Poverty Point") are in southern US and predate Adena Mounds in the Mississippi as well as Olmec pyramids in Mexico. (I just looked it up, the Olmec were 1200 BC and Poverty Point is 1100 BC, so actually US sites are contemporaneous with oldest central American ones). They were building monuments all around the Caribbean at that time - for example the Caddo mounds in Texas.

In addition to the timing and architecture being connected between cultures of central and north America, it is clear [to me] that the basic cultures were a bit homogenous all over the Americas, in general. You look at a Mayan arrowhead [hard to find pictures of them] and it is the same as an arrowhead from the Mississippian mound building cultures of later years.

Pre-classic Mayan:


I have one of these arrowhead. I found it in Arizona at a "Sinagua" site - a pre-Anasazi, Puebloan people. What this tells me is that there was a culture that was pan-American with many local variations of the common theme. And they built mounds in the north and in the south. In the river valleys and alluvial deltas, they built in dirt. In the rocky highlands they built from stone. 

Everyone was building mounds and everyone was building terraces and everyone was making the same sort of arrowhead. It would not be surprising if an Indian from the north east could have been intelligible to one from Mississippi using a shared "trade language". I propose that mound building cultures were all similar and all shared some common behaviors and beliefs. These include not only mounds and arrowheads but also foods. The "three sisters" of corn, beans, and squash did not get to New England by coincidence but through trade and a continuity of cultures. Another example is the "4 color" division of: black, white, yellow, and red -corresponding with compass directions.

So why are we creating a false sense of separation between the Mayans and the Indians of Georgia? Of course the Mayan culture was present in Georgia. But those Indians should be called "Georgians". To make fun of this idea is to ignore the obvious cultural continuity that, I believe, stretched from Canada to Peru. You can make fun of it. You can argue about timing and the difference between when the Adena were in the Mississippi valley versus the Mayans in central America. But you have to make arbitrary distinctions to do it. Every place from Mexico to Massachusetts had examples of the same cultures.

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