Part Four of the Americas Connected series
The archaeological site covers several hundred acres with multiple property owners, immediately north of the Soque Pyramid in the village of Batesville, GA.
by Richard L. Thornton, Architect and City Planner
Long time residents of the Batesville, GA area have always known about the stone bricks, but at some point began assuming that pioneers from the early 1800s carved the bricks to build chimneys. This is not a skill that most frontier settlers of Appalachia in the late 1700s and early 1800s generally had. If they did have it, they quickly forgot it. Most chimneys of the original log houses were stacked logs, plastered with clay. These were soon replaced by stacked asymmetrical fieldstones, using red clay, mixed with lime, as a mortar.
The fieldstones here in extreme Northeast Georgia are predominantly rhyolite, black scoria, brown scoria, pumice and compressed volcanic ash, because in extremely ancient times, a caldera volcano, with an eleven mile (17.7 km) wide crater dominated the region, which then was followed by smaller volcanic cones. The crater of the caldera volcano is still visible on topographic and geological maps. Exposed strata of basalt or granite, suitable for carving into small bricks, do exist, but are rare. In other words, the bricks were probably made elsewhere and hauled to the town site.
The quarrying of rocks to make stone bricks did occur among a few cultures in the Americas and in western Europe, but is a rare architectural tradition in both regions of the world. According to the Miccosukee Migration Legend, the Soque people were the progenitors of the so-called Olmec Civilization. Some of their bands migrated to Northeast Georgia after Nahuatl barbarians from northern Mexico invaded Tabasco in southern Mexico. Much of Tabasco was devoid of fieldstones, so the Soque (or Zoque) never developed a tradition of stone architecture.
The Mayas, Zapotecs, Mixtecs, Totonacs, Purepeche and Aztecs in Mexico did craft small building stones from large quarried rocks, but these were used for decorative treatment, not entire walls as seems to be the situation here in Northeast Georgia. I have found scattered cultures from the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Medieval Periods along the Atlantic Coast of Europe, who built houses with stone bricks . . . but that does not prove anything, per se. In other words, I can not begin to tell the readers who built this town and when. Being a Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech, I am not inclined to be speculative or create theories.
The Batesville Area will be our research focus in 2022
My lifestyle situation now is vastly different than the period from 2009 through 2017, when I was in dire poverty. I now have a comfortable home and according to the Feds, live 15% above the poverty level! More importantly, over the past four years, I have been able to accumulate a complete array of high tech architectural and geological analysis equipment. I already had hand-held laser measuring-mapping devices. My Georgia Tech graduate sister gave me a surveyor’s transit for Christmas. You can expect highly professional reports coming out of the Upper Soque River Basin!
The Truth is out there somewhere!