Pompeii? Roma? Egypt? China? Peru? Mexico?
Nope! That’s the Chattahoochee River in the background. The 10 Creek feet – 11 English feet – 3.35 meter stone slab was carved from dense volcanic rock in the Nacoochee Valley of Georgia and then set into a perfectly square slot to face due South. It appears to be a cantilevered platform for the High King or Chief priest of the invisible sun goddess, Amana, to perform ceremonies or give speeches to the people assembled on the plaza below. It was revealed by flooding caused by Tropical Storm Zeta late in October 2020.
The site was the most important temple of the Kingdom of Apalache . . . the most advanced indigenous culture to exist north of Mexico. Unlike Mexican civilizations, though, the Apalache forbade the sacrificing of either animals or humans. They also did not allow slavery. They had a writing system which utilized symbols from the oldest writing system of the Olmec Civilization in Mexico. The temple contained technology, which enabled priests to store electricity from lightning and start a fire with sunlight.
The Apalache of northern Georgia were the real Apalaches. Those in Florida did not call themselves by that name, until the Spanish gave them that name. The Spanish took the name of a trading colony, established by the real Apalache in the Florida Panhandle and gave it to a whole province.
Apalache is the plural of Apalache. It originally was just their ethnic name on a map then became the name of the mountains in northern Georgia and ultimately the name for a chain of mountains that run from Alabama to Maine! Other than giving their name to the Appalachian Mountains and to the Apalachee River in northeast Georgia, you wouldn’t even know that they ever existed. The Kingdom of Apalache has been erased from the hisory books.
The original capital of the Apalache was at the location of Downtown Savannah, Georgia today. Over the centuries the Apalache gradually moved the center of their population and capital northward. By the time in 1670 that Charleston, SC was settled, all of the Apalache were living along fast running rivers in northern Georgia. Ironically, the last capital of the Apalache was in the Nacoochee Valley . . . where both the Chickasaws and Itsate Creeks earlier developed their distinctive cultural traits.
Part Six of our series . . . The Origins of the Chickasaws and Creek Peoples is forthcoming.