Rock Eagle Effigy Mound
Rock Eagle Effigy Mound is an archaeological site in
Putnam County, Georgia, U.S.A.It consists of thousands of pieces of quartzitelaid in the shape of a large bird. Although it is most often referred to as an eagleit is unknown exactly what type of bird its original builders intended to portray.
Only two such bird
effigy mounds have been found east of the Mississippi River. The other, known as Rock Hawk, is also located in Putnam County, approximately thirteen miles to the southeast. (coord|33|20.693|N|83|10.502|W|type:landmark)
Rock Eagle was once thought to be as much as 5,000 years old. While there is strong evidence that the area was occupied by Archaic Indians at that time it is unlikely that they created the mound. Current archaeology suggests that it was built between 1,000 and 3,000 years ago by Woodland Indians. These Native Americans may have been part of the Adena or Hopewell cultures, although it is more likely that they represented a unique group.
The mound depicts a bird with a large beak and a fan tail. It measures 120 feet from head to tail and 102 feet from wingtip to wingtip. The birds's head is often described as being turned to the east (see "Marker"), "to face the rising sun", perhaps to suggest a
cosmologicalsignificance to its placement. However, the bird's head actually faces south by southeast, and its beak points almost due south. The rocks comprising the bird's chest are piled eight to ten feet high, while the wings, tail, and head rise much lower. Types of claynot indigenous to the area have been found on the mound, suggesting that materials were brought from other areas during its construction. Early archaeologists also found evidence of a human cremationon the mound, as well as a projectile point. It has been suggested that the mound bears more resemblance to a buzzardor vulturethan an eagle, and that as the buzzard was a symbol of deathamong some of the indigenous peoples it would have been a fitting image for a burial mound. [http://www.lostworlds.org/rock_eagle.html LostWorlds.org | Georgia : Rock Eagle - Eastern Woodland Indians effigy mound ] ] However, it should be noted that Rock Eagle is not known to have been a burial mound and is generally not described as such.
Scholarly study of the Rock Eagle Effigy Mound began by 1877, when noted
archaeologistCharles C. Jones published measurements of the image. Much of the site was excavated during the 1930s by University of Georgiaarchaeologist A. R. Kelly. Also in the Thirties the property was sold to the United States government. The Works Progress Administration, in association with the University of Georgia, constructed a granitetower at the foot of the effigy, making an "aerial" view of the site possible for visitors. Access to the mound itself is prohibited, and the site is surrounded by a tall fence. The site remains under the administration of the University, and much of the adjoining land is now a 4-Hcamp. Visitors are permitted to visit the mound free of charge. The site is located adjacent to State Route 441 between the cites of Madison and Eatonton.
A bronze marker was placed at the head of the image in 1940. It relates basic information about the site, along with "poetic" commentary that might be deemed politically incorrect by a modern visitor:
cquote|ROCK EAGLE MOUND
MOUND OF PREHISTORIC ORIGIN, BELIEVED TO BE CEREMONIAL MOUND, MADE WITH WHITE QUARTZ ROCKS IN THE SHAPE OF AN EAGLE, HEAD TURNED TO EAST, LENGTH 102 FEET, SPREAD OF WINGS 120 FEET, DEPTH OF BREAST 8 FEET. ONLY TWO SUCH CONFIGURATIONS DISCOVERED EAST OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER. BOTH ARE IN PUTNAM COUNTY.
"TREAD SOFTLY HERE WHITE MANFOR LONG ERE YOU CAMESTRANGE RACES LIVED, FOUGHT AND LOVED."
ERECTED BY THE GEORGIA SOCIETY COLONIAL DAMES OF THE XVII CENTURY
The Rock Eagle effigy mound gave its name to the adjoining Rock Eagle 4-H Center. An image of the mound is featured on the masthead of the center's newsletter, "Wingspan".
Malachi Z. Yorkonce explained that the group's now-defunct communal center, Tama-Re, was located near Eatonton “because we are the Yamassee, a branch of the Washitaw Moors, The Mound Builders. Our Ancestors built the Rock Eagle Mound and many others in such states as Wisconsin, Ohio, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Tennessee. This is why we chose Eatonton to live. It is close to Rock Eagle Mound.”
* [http://www.rockeagle4h.org Rock Eagle 4-H Center]
* [http://roadsidegeorgia.com/site/rock_eagle.html Roadside Georgia]
* [http://www.lostworlds.org/rock_eagle.html Ancient Architects of Georgia]
* [http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-2382 New Georgia Encyclopedia]
* [http://roadsidegeorgia.com/county/putnam.html Putnam County]
* [http://sorbacsra.proboards23.com/index.cgi?board=Ridepost&action=print&thread=1185674439 Sunday Ride: Rock Hawk]
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