Ocmulgee Mounds

Lamar Period Pottery
The Ocmulgee site consists of a large and impressive group of mounds located along the fall line of the Ocmulgee River on the northeastern edge of Macon. Although there were many different periods of occupation at what is now Ocmulgee National Monument, the most prominent one began around 800 A.D., in the Early Mississippian period (A.D. 800-1100), and lasted for three centuries. During that time the occupants, who had emigrated from Tennessee or farther west, built many flat-topped earthen mounds, council chambers, and defensive structures in the mile-square town. Archaeologists know that they were immigrants because their pottery was completely different from that of the other people living in central Georgia at that time, but identical to pottery found on sites northwest of present-day Georgia.
Between 1933 and 1941 the largest archaeological excavations ever undertaken at any site in Georgia were carried out at Ocmulgee by Works Progress Administration, or WPA, workers who were guided by Arthur Kelly. Ocmulgee's 2,000 acres, in fact, made up the most extensive excavation in the country. The site had been badly damaged by two separate nineteenth-century railway cuts through the center of the town, but Kelly still recovered an incredible wealth of information about Mississippian Indian life in central Georgia. The crew discovered a unique and magnificent council house floor, and they built a protective roof over it. This in-place archaeological exhibition is one of the most interesting and important in the entire eastern United States. The summit of the largest mound, at the southern end of the site, offers a stunning view of the Ocmulgee River valley to the south—a large flood plain where the Indians grew corn. The Ocmulgee site was abandoned by about 1100 A.D., and the fate of its inhabitants is still a mystery.
In 1934 the U.S. Congress designated 2,000 acres to be made a national park, but when ultimately signed into law in 1936 by U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt as a national monument, only 678 acres fell under federal protection. The site today consists of 702 acres. In 1997 the Old Ocmulgee Fields was designated by the National Register of Historic Places as a Traditional Cultural Property, the first such site so named east of the Mississippi River. The Old Fields site is now endangered, however, because of Georgia Department of Transportation plans to construct a highway that would bisect the site.
close

Loading

Further Reading
David Hally, ed., Ocmulgee Archaeology, 1936-1986 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994).
Cite This Article
Williams, Mark. "Ocmulgee Mounds." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 29 August 2013. Web. 05 August 2020.
From Our Home Page
Late Victorian Architecture: Overview

Across Georgia, the period from 1895 to 1920 was an era of expansion and growth.

Read more...
Upper Coastal Plain

The Upper Coastal Plain of Georgia is bounded on the north by the fall line and extends south to Florida and east to the upper terraces of th

Read more...
Harriet Powers (1837-1910)

Harriet Powers is one of the best-known southern African American quilt makers, even though only two of her quilts, both of which she made after th

Read more...
Kolomoki Mounds

The Kolomoki Mounds site is one of the largest prehistoric mound complexes in Georgia.

Read more...
Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries