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Explore Georgia's NPS Ocmulgee National Monument Early History and Culture.

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Ocmulgee National Monument mounds
History & Culture Chronology from Pre-9000 BC Through 1690
From ice age to space age, it is a memorial to the relationship of people and natural resources in this corner of North America. We preserved a continuous record of human life in the SE from the earliest times to the present. Its more than 12,000 years of human diversity of natural and cultural resources combined that provides an abundance of reasons to visit.

Ocmulgee National Monument displayBulletPre-9,000 BC - Paleo Indian Period - Ice Age hunters arrive in the SE, leaving one of their distinctive "Clovis" spear points on the Macon Plateau. In the 1930's this became the first such artifact found in situ in the southern U.S.

Bullet8,000-9,000 BC - Transitional Period - People adjust to gradually warming weather as the glaciers melt and many Ice Age mammals become extinct.

Bullet1,000-8,000 BC - Archaic Period - Efficient hunting/gathering; adaptation to a climate much like today; use of the atlatl (spear thrower), woodworking tools, etc.; white-tail deer becomes a staple; extensive shell mounds along the coast and some inland rivers.

Bullet2,500 BC - First pottery in this country appears along the Georgia/South Carolina coast and soon filters into what is now Middle Georgia; it is tempered or strengthen with plant fibers which burn out during firing, giving a worm-hole appearance to the vessel surface.

Bullet1,000 BC- AD 900 - Woodland Period - Pottery tempered with sand and grit, sometimes decorated with elaborate designs incised, punctated or stamped into its surface before firing; cultivation of sunflowers, gourds, and several other plants; construction of semi-permanent villages; stone effigy mounds and earthen burial and platform mounds; connections to the Adena/Hopewell Cultures farther North and to Weeden Island in Florida and South Georgia.
Ocmulgee National Monument
Bullet900-1150 AD - Early Mississippian Period - A new way of life, believed to have originated in the Mississippi River area appears on the Macon Plateau. These people, whose pottery is different from that made by the Woodland cultures in the area, construct a large ceremonial center with huge earthen temple / burial / domiciliary mounds and earthlodges, which serve as formal council chambers.

Tee Pee at Ocmulgee National Park MonumentTheir economy is supported by agriculture, with corn, beans, squash and other crops planted in the rich river floodplain. Indigenous Woodland people in surrounding areas interact with these people, who possess early symbols and artifacts associated with the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex (Southern Cult).

Bullet1150-1350 AD - Mature Mississippian Period - The great Macon Plateau town declines and the Lamar and Stubbs Mounds and Villages appear just downstream. These towns are a combination of the old Woodland culture and Mississippian ideas. The Southern Cult, distinguished by flamboyant artistic motifs and specialized artifacts, flourishes at places like Roods Landing and Etowah,GA, Moundville, AL, Hiwasee Island,TN, Cahokia, IL, and Spiro, OK.

Ocmulgee National Monument moundBullet1350-1650 - Late Mississippian Period (Protohistoric) - The Lamar Culture, named for the Lamar Mounds and Village Unit of Ocmulgee National Monument, becomes widespread in the Southeast; chiefdoms marked by smaller, more numerous, often stockaded villages with a ceremonial center marked by one or two mounds; combination of the both Woodland and Mississippian elements.

Bullet1540 - Chroniclers of Hernando DeSoto's expedition into the interior of N America write the first descriptions of the Lamar and related cultures, ancestors of the historic Creek (Muscogean), Cherokee (Iroquoian), Yuchi (Euchee), and other Southeastern people.

Most of their main towns are situated near rich river bottomland fields of corn, beans and squash. Many towns feature open plazas and earthen temple mounds. Public buildings and homes are constructed of upright logs, interwoven with vines or cane and plastered with clay (wattle and daub). Some are elaborately decorated and contain large woodcarvings. DeSoto’s expedition’s 600 men and 300 horses devastate local food supplies; epidemics of European diseases decimate many populations.
Bullet1565 - The Spanish establish their first permanent settlement at St. Augustine, set up outposts at towns along the Atlantic coast to the North, and begin to missionize the Indians. Priests and soldiers travel up the river systems to other towns in the interior of the area which would become Georgia.

Ocmulgee National Park Monument signBullet1670 - The British establish Charles Town (Charleston, SC) on the Atlantic coast. Despite Spanish opposition, English explorers initiate contact and trade with towns in the interior.

Bullet1690 - A British trading post is constructed on Ochese Creek (present Ocmulgee River at the site now protected within Ocmulgee National Monument). A number of Muscogee towns move from the Chattahoochee River to this vicinity to be near the English. At this time, the Ocmulgee river is called Ochese-hatchee or Ochisi-hatchi (various spellings).

The towns are known as the Ochese Creek Nation. The British eventually refer to them simply as the "Creeks." They speak variations of the Muscogean language, but their confederacy incorporates other groups, such as the Yuchi, who speak different languages. The Creeks acquire horses from Spanish Florida and guns from the British. Their culture and dress is modified by use of trade goods such as iron pots, steel knives, and cotton cloth.
Bullet1704 - Col. James Moore, with a band of some fifty men from Charles Town, leads 1,000 warriors from the Creek towns on the Ocmulgee River to Florida. They devastate the Spanish Apalachee Mission system and drive the Spaniards back to St. Augustine. After many of the inhabitants of northern Florida are exterminated, some of the Creeks move into the area and incorporate the survivors into their own group. These people are subsequently known as the Seminole and Miccosuki.

Ocmulgee National Monument Historic Park trailBullet1715 - The Yamassee War erupts in protest against British indignities related to the fur trade, including the taking of Indian shipped as slaves to work in Carribean sugar plantations. Many traders in Indian territory are killed. In retaliation, the British burn Ocmulgee Town on Ochese Creek. The Creek towns withdraw to the Chattahoochee River and the Yuchis move with them. The people are known as the Lower Creeks. The Upper Creeks are centered on the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers to the northeast.

Bullet1733 - The Georgia Colony settles on lands along the banks of the Savannah River given to General James Oglethorpe by Chief Tomochichi of the Yamacraws, a group related to the Lower Creeks. The Colony serves as a buffer between South Carolina and Spanish Florida.

Bullet1739 - General James Oglethorpe, founder of the Georgia Colony, travels the ancient trading path through the mounds and old planting fields at Ocmulgee enroute to Coweta (near what is now Columbus, GA) to meet with the Creeks.

One of his Rangers writes a short description of the mounds at what is now Ocmulgee National Monument. A western boundary for the colony is defined along the Ogeechee River. The area extends along the coast to the present northern border of Florida.
Bullet1774 - William Bartram, reknown naturalist and botanist, follows the Lower Creek Trading Path from Augusta through the area. In his journal, he records the account of the Ocmulgee Old Fields below:

Ocmulgee Bird"On the heights of these low grounds are yet visible monuments, or traces, of an ancient town, such as artificial mounts or terraces, squares and banks, encircling considerable areas. Their old fields and planting land extend up and down the river, fifteen or twenty miles from this site. If we are to give credit to the account the Creeks give of themselves, this place is remarkable for being the first town or settlement, when they sat down (as they term it) or established themselves, after their emigration from the west..."

Bullet1778 - During the Revolutionary War, many Creeks want to remain neutral, but Alexander McGillivray (of Creek-Scottish descent,educated in South Carolina, Principal Chief of both the Upper and Lower Creeks) leads them into an alliance with England.

Bullet1793 - Invention of the cotton gin greatly accelerates the desire for rich river bottomland. Creek Indians, most of them excellent farmers, quickly adapt to a cotton-based economy.

Open daily at 8 am. to 5 pm. Closed Christmas (Dec 25) and New Years Day (Jan 1)
Phone: 478-752-8257 - Address: 1207 Emery Hwy, Macon Georgia 31217

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Ocmulgee Monument History & Culture:

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Bullet1900's to Present
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