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A Mysterious Young Lady Named Liube

On one of the six main boulders of the Track Rock petroglyphs near Brasstown Bald Mountain, GA and across Track Rock Gap Road from the Track Rock Terrace Complex, a Jewish girl carved her first name, Liube, and the date, 1715.  The drawing of the petroglyphs was prepared by South African archaeologist, Johannes Loubser, as part of a contract with the U.S. Forest Service.  The six drawings are published on a public USFS web site.1 Liube is a Jewish female name that is mostly used in Slavic countries.2It means “beloved” and in the past was a name that rabbis liked to give one of their daughters. Why a Jewish woman named Liube was on a trail near Brasstown Bald Mountain in 1715, one can only speculate. It was a dangerous time for any European to be in the wilderness. The inscription was made 260 miles as a crow flies from the nearest English settlement . . . in the midst of the one of the bloodiest wars between Native Americans and European settlers ever fought.  At the time, the Southeastern tribes were killing all the South Carolina traders in their midst, but usually not harming traders from Virginia. Perhaps Liube’s father was killed and she was taken captive.   “Liube 1715” is highly significant and probably could be made the basis of a blockbuster movie, yet… The report prepared for the USFS made no mention of the “Liube 1715” inscription.3 The Track Rock petroglyphs were described as probably being graffiti made by bored Cherokee hunters. The half square mile stone terrace complex to the east was described as being probably built by...

Site Tour of the Track Rock Gap Archaeological Zone

1 – Vent Trail: The entrance to the Vent Trail was only about 125 feet from Track Rock Gap Road.  The Vent Trail appeared to be an old logging road that varied from about eight to fourteen feet wide.  The trail’s lack of use had allowed dense stands of wild blackberries to grow up at the entrance along sections exposed to sunlight.  Since the trail leads to the dormant volcanic vent, it is also possible that centuries of foot and horse traffic have widened the original trail to the scale of a road. Until this point in time, we really did not appreciate the scale of the archaeological zone.  Despite having fairly precise maps, the steep slope created far more surface area than one would suspect from looking at a two dimensional topographic map. 2 – Right-of-way walls:  The footprints of walls can be seen in the power right- of-way. They have been leveled down to grade, most likely by the Blue Ridge Mountain EMC. 3 – Track Rock Branch: There are vestiges of stone retaining walls on both sides (east and west) of the creek. They are straight and run in a north-south direction.  It is quite probable that roadway improvements destroyed or covered features located farther to the west. 4 – Lower terraces: The retaining walls for the mountainside terraces are mostly concave and about 18” to 24” tall. Judging from the grade, these walls were originally about 36” tall. They all face west and appear to have been carefully laid. They show evidence of being damaged by tractors or logging machinery.  Some of the terraces have...

Understanding the Obsession with All Things Cherokee

Many history buffs in the Georgia Mountains are obsessed with all things Cherokee. They assume that Creek place names such as Oconaluftee, Coosa, Oostanaula, Oothlooga, Etowah, Chattooga, Nottely, Yahoola, Enota, Tesnatee, Soque, Nacoochee, Tallulah, etc. are Cherokee words. The myths can all be traced to the presumptions made by the first white settlers to enter the region. That’s right . . . the main river on the North Carolina Cherokee Reservation is an Itsate Creek word meaning “Okonee People – isolated.”  The name has no meaning in Cherokee. The Okonee were major players in the mound-building business, who eventually joined the Creek Confederacy.  They were mainly located in northeastern Georgia and the Okefenokee Swamp basin in southeast Georgia. One of the current myths that resulted from this obsession is that the Cherokees occupied all of northern Georgia until 1838. This myth even permeated the archaeology profession until the late 20th century. Prehistoric artifacts were being classified as Cherokee, when they couldn’t have possibly been so.  The fact is that by the time the Cherokees arrived in the Georgia Mountains, they were using muskets and cooking in iron pots.  Approximately 85% of the Native American place names in both the Georgia and North Carolina Mountains are either Muskogean or Maya Indian words. This obsession is ironic for many reasons.  There were only a handful of Cherokees in the extreme northeastern tip of Georgia prior to the American Revolution. It was primarily used for hunting. In 1780 the British Army counted only 25 Cherokee warriors living in the entire province of Georgia.  The Cherokees occupied this small region in 1715 after...

Discerning Facts and Myths About Track Rock Gap

In general, Loubser treated Cherokee legends as possible facts, while not discussing Creek Indian traditions whatsoever. Loubser first described two interpretations of the stone ruins that were provided to him by the staff of the Eastern Band of Cherokee’s Cultural Heritage Preservation Office.  Both interpreted the stone ruins as being burials. One version of this Cherokee legend is that the piles of stone at Track Rock Gap are the graves of great Cherokee warriors. There may be Cherokee burials at Track Rock Gap.  However, no stone burial cairns are associated with any known Cherokee village sites in North Carolina or eastern Tennessee.  There are many stone cairn cemeteries in the Georgia Piedmont. They are either located in territory occupied by the Creek Indians until the land was ceded to Georgia, or areas that the Cherokees only briefly occupied from the 1780s to the early 1830s.  Archaeologists have been able to date only a few of these cairns.  Radiocarbon dates ranged between the Late Archaic to the Middle Woodland Periods (1600 BC – 750 AD.) Another version provided by the EBC Cultural Heritage Preservation Office was that the stone ruins were the burials of thousands of Creek warriors, who were killed when the Cherokees conquered Georgia. The Cherokees did not conquer Georgia. In 1754, they suffered a catastrophic defeat by an army sent by the Creek town of Koweta, at the end of the Creek-Cherokee War. All of the Valley Cherokee towns were destroyed. A Cherokee delegation traveled to Charleston to beg for help from the British Army. Their leaders feared that their entire nation was about to be destroyed....

Interpretation of the Track Rock Gap Petroglyphs

As a major portion of its professional services to the U.S. Forest Service in the year 2000, Stratum Unlimited, LLC prepared graytone renderings of the six main boulders at Track Rock Gap. These renderings will be of incalculable value to the citizens of the United States in the future.  Because they remained exposed to the elements, the petroglyphs deteriorated at an accelerating pace in the early 21st century.  Acidic rainwater is the primary culprit.  The renderings of the Track Rock petroglyphs are presented on a website sponsored by the USFS. Johannes Loubser provided only generalized interpretation of the images on the Track Rock boulders. There are abstract animals and portions of the human body which are obviously that.  As he stated, there is substantial evidence that several ethnic groups carved images on the boulders over a period of many years.  Some images were carved on top of others.  It is his interpretation, or lack of interpretation, of the abstract images, which is questionable.  He provides an explanation that these are merely graffiti created by Cherokee hunters! All of the abstract images on the Track Rock petroglyphs are either standard symbols, utilized by the Creek Indians, or else are Itza Maya glyphs. Most can be seen on the art found around Etowah Mounds and also the Judaculla petroglyphs near Cullowee, NC. The images at Track Rock that are found around Etowah Mounds, are also generally seen in the traditional art of all Muskogean tribes in the Southeast.  Sun Circles and Human Hands: The Southeastern Indians Art and Industries by Alabamans, Emma Lila Fundaburk and Mary Douglass Fundaburk Foreman, contains examples...

Other Missing Stone Archaeological Sites

Inexplicably, Loubser did not mention a major field stone structure complex in Union County that can be seen from the acropolis of the Track Rock terraces in his Appraisal of a Piled Stone Feature Complex report.. This archaeological zone is known as Fort Mountain. It is not the same site as Fort Mountain State Park in Murray County, GA.  It is located at the edge of the Nottely River Valley in the Choestoe Community.  The two sites align on the azimuth of the Winter Solstice sunset.  The plaza of the acropolis is also aligned to this azimuth.  Draw a line from the stone altar on this plaza. Iit will pass through the center of Fort Mountain in Union County, then end up at the center of the Ladds Mountain stone enclosure in Cartersville, GA. Aligned to Track Rock Gap on the azimuth of the sunrise of the Winter Solstice is the Aleck Mountain stone enclosure in the Nacoochee Valley. “Alek” is the Creek word for a medical doctor.  This stone circle was not mentioned in the Loubser Report even though it has been studied by University of Georgia archaeologists. A report about this site was published. Native American occupation of the Track Rock terraces was almost exactly the same as that at Etowah Mounds National Landmark in Cartersville, GA. Etowah is slightly older. Both sites contain fieldstone retaining walls. There was also a complex of circular stone walls and straight walls on Ladds Mountain, overlooking the Etowah town site.  This important coincidence was missing from the archaeologist’s report. Etowah Mounds National Landmark is considered the mother town of the Creek...

Track Rock Gap Archaeological Survey

In the year 2000 the district office of the U. S. Forest Service in Gainesville, GA contracted with South African archaeologist Johannes Loubser to study the Track Rock Petroglyphs. Loubser operates under the professional name of Stratum Unlimited, LLC. Loubser’s published paper on the Track Rock survey was co-authored by Dr. Douglas Frink of Worcester State College in Massachusetts. This article is a brief analysis of that survey.

The Track Rock Terrace Complex

In mid-July, a member of the Unicoi Turnpike Preservation Association,  telephoned me after reading an article that I had written in the Examiner. That particular column was about archaeological sites in western North Carolina.  He was also a member of the Towns County, GA Historical Society.  The Union County-Towns County line runs across the peak of Brasstown Bald Mountain, which contains Georgia’s highest elevation.  Brasstown Bald is immediately to the east of Track Rock Gap. The outdoor enthusiast was primarily interested in what I knew about the use of the Unicoi Turnpike during the Trail of Tears Period (1836-1838.)  The Unicoi Turnpike was a 19th century road that improved an ancient Native American trade path between the headwaters of the Savannah River in northeast Georgia and the confluence of the Tennessee and Little Tennessee Rivers near Loudon, TN.  He wanted to know if I thought it was used to move Cherokees to prison stockades in the summer of 1838. I wanted to talk about the evidence that I had found which indicated that Spanish explorer, Juan Pardo, had used the Unicoi Trail in 1567. I thought perhaps Spanish Jews had followed the trail to settle the Georgia and North Carolina Mountains.  He was only mildly interested that subject, and was primarily focused on preserving the sections of the Unicoi Turnpike that might have been traveled by Cherokees. The Unicoi Trail was outside the Cherokee Nation in 1838, when thousands of Cherokees were being deported.  I told the local historian that I had read some accounts where Cherokees living outside the boundaries of the “Nation” had escaped federal troops by...

Pre Darmos Casada

An inscription on a rock on Hoopers Bald contains the late Medieval Castillian words “PRE DARMOS CASADA – SEP 15, 1615” and an inscription on a boulder at Track Rock Gap contains the name “Liube 1725” a Jewish name… the significance of these inscriptions in South East United States are identified in this article.

The Trail to Yupaha

An AccessGenealogy Exclusive: The Trail to Yupaha – Is Yupaha the Mayan connection to the Indians of the United States? This is a highly contentious look by Richard Thornton at the possibility of a trail he found in the Track Rock Gap area of Georgia being the connection to the Mayan of South America… The History Channel premiered it’s new show “American Unearthed” investigating this very issue. One of the people they interviewed on the show, now tells you in his own words, how this discovery all came about.

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