Archaeologists Find 1,100-Year-Old Mayan Ruins in Northern Georgia
In what one researcher is calling the “most important archaeological discovery in recent times,” scientists have found 1,100-year-old Mayan ruins in the foothills of northern Georgia.
According to The Examiner, the massive site near Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s tallest mountain, dates back to around the year 900AD, right about the time that the Mayan civilization in southern Mexico and Central America suddenly collapsed. The site, known as Archaeological zone 9UN367, measures about half a square mile and rises 700 feet (213 m) up a steep mountainside. It contains at least 154 stone masonry walls used for agriculture, traces of a complex irrigation system and ruins of numerous stone structures. There may be more hidden underground. It is believed that the site may be the ruins of Yupaha, a fabled city sought after by the legendary Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto (he never found it) in the 16th century.
The site is being called the “missing link” between Mayan and Native American cultures that archaeologists have been searching for since the early 1800s. Little had been known about what happened to the Mayan people after their civilization precipitously collapsed after a series of devastating volcanic eruptions, extreme droughts and incessant internecine warfare. This all happened around the year 800AD. A civilization of some 15 million souls just vanished into the pages of history.
But there were always signs of Mayan influx in the southeastern United States. Hundreds of fieldstone ruins dot the region; the local Cherokees deny having ever built them. And many places throughout the region were once named”Itsate” or “Itsaye,” which translates to “Place of the Itza.” Itza means Maya. The Hitchiti Creeks called themselves Itsate, and the Itsate Creeks’ language contained many Mayan words.
In 1999, University of Georgia archaeologist Mark Williams led a survey of Kenimer Mound on the southeast side of Brasstown Bald. A large, five-sided pyramid-shaped mound that local residents always figured to be a hill turned out to be a clay structure constructed by an unknown party around 900AD. The following year, at the persuasion of retired local engineer Cary Waldrup, the U.S. Forest Service hired South African archaeologist Johannes Loubser and his Stratum Unlimited firm to study the ruins. Loubser has concluded that the site dates from as far back as 760-850 AD, exactly the time when the Mayan civilization began its collapse.
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