by Richard L. Thornton, Architect & City Planner
It is unlike any artifact ever found in North America and remains a mystery!
March 18, 2021 – Clarkesville, GA – An Atlanta couple traveled to a remote and mountainous northwest corner of Habersham County, GA to check on their vacation cabin, after a fierce storm rolled through the previous night. The cabin was fine, but they noticed that a strange stone object had been exposed by torrential rains then slid down the steep slope of Chimney Mountain a short distance.
The object was carved from Rhyolite, a dense volcanic stone that is associated with caldera type volcanoes. This stone is quite common in northern Habersham and western Rabun Counties, Georgia. Its identity was confirmed with ultraviolet light, which revealed a dense content of clear silicate crystals, which is typical of rhyolite. The carved stone is approximately 25″ (63.5 cm) tall. It weighs about 130 pounds (59 kg).
The location of the carved stone is on the northwestern edge of the Tallulah Caldera in extreme Northeast Georgia. This ancient, extinct caldera is about 12 miles (20.3 km) wide. The rim of this caldera is spotted with newer volcanoes and smaller calderas. The only volcanic peak that shows any evidence of tectonic activity is Chimney Mountain. Until 1886, steam and smoke regular came out of the top of this mountain.
Again in 2019, steam or hot gases were spotted coming out of the top. In a few days, all of the vegetation on top of the mountain had died. The top soil of my property on Alec Mountain, seven miles (11.2 km) to the south contains very young scoria lava bombs. This suggests that Chimney Mountain has been active in the recent past.
The carved stone appears to be the upper torso of a human body with a sunflower bud as its head. Ancestors of the Creeks used a sunflower stalk to symbolize a royal family, but no art survives, showing anthropomorphic features on sunflowers. Furthermore, all of these “royal sunflowers” were in full bloom.
One can see vestiges of a shirt or blouse on the torso, plus what appears to be a breast plate or necklace on the front. The interior of the flower bud was a vessel for burning incense.
This figure most resembles the “Petersborough Man” on the Petersborough Petroglyphs in Ontario and a similar figure on the Ometepe Petroglyphs in Nicaragua.
As will be seen in the photographs below, the stone was obviously engraved, but the engravings have been eroded over the centuries by the harsh weather conditions on Chimney Mountain. It will be necessary for the stone to be transported to my lab in order to determine the exact pattern of the engravings. I will illuminate it with a strong horizontal light and ultraviolet light then examine it with a magnifying class to discern the pattern. At this time, I will also measure it precisely with calipers.
My guess is that this artifact was part of an anthropomorphic stone statue in a shrine on the ridge line that gives access to the top of Chimney Mountain from the north. Someone long in the past dismembered the shrine and cast its stone components over the side of the mountain.
The Astonishing First Photos
This artifact was found about a half mile east of the little known Westmoreland Petroglyphs. On a nearby peak, US Forest Rangers found a carved stone throne, very similar to the one at the top of a pyramid at the Maya city of Uxmal. This artifact is being stored at Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School. It is not being displayed in public.