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I knew so little back then. I had only the slightest grasp of my Creek Indian heritage. I couldn’t even begin to answer Dr. Piña-Chan’s questions. I did tell him that we had a lot of gold in the Georgia Mountains, but our archaeologists said that the Indians didn’t know anything about it. Even then, however, I agreed with Dr. Piña-Chan. Why would our Indians be so skilled with working copper, which is also abundant in some parts of the mountains, but not work gold?
Well, anthropologists knew so little back then, too. They were just beginning to translate Maya glyphs. They were completely baffled by the abandonment of the Maya cities. They had no clue that Maya urbanization once covered much of the landscape of the Yucatan Peninsula, Chiapas and the Petan.
Fortunately, I kept a journal that summer to jog my memory on what I saw. However, in addition, the opportunity to meet on a personal basis with a man of his professional stature somehow left an indelible record in the remote corner of my memory bank.
It was a scene in the movie, Apocalypto, however, that brought all those memories back. The recently captured slaves are being marched into the Maya city to be processed. They passed through a limestone quarry. All the quarry slaves were wearing white turbans identical to those on the famous marble statues at Etowah Mounds. Now I finally understood Dr. Piña-Chan’s question about making statues of slaves.
A little later in the movie, the newly captured slaves were walking among commoner houses. The landscape was covered with terra cotta potsherds from hundreds of years of human occupation. The carpet of potsherds jogged back memories of my own walks through these suburbs. The ground was covered with bright red potsherds that had brownish gray cores. Then it dawned on me, the Maya Commoner Redware was almost identical to that Ocmulgee National Monument, and as I would ultimate learn, many of the potsherds found in the fill soil of archaeological site 9UN 367 at Track Rock Gap.