Etowah Indian Mounds - Cartersville, Georgia
The Etowah Indian Mounds are located near Cartersville, Georgia, midway between Chattanooga and Atlanta, just a few miles off Interstate 75. The landmark has a very nice little museum and interpretive center. The mounds are unbelievable.
Archaeologists believe this site was the principal village in the region between 1,000 - 1,500 AD. It's easy to see why this rich valley was a popular place to live. The Etowah River flows through the property, and the mounds provided a safe retreat from the annual flood waters that breached its banks. The floods of the Etowah also brought rich silt (and gold) from the mountains and provided the valley with resources unmatched in the region. Notice the ancient Native American fish weir, very visible in the picture below (click to zoom).
When visiting this historic park, one of the first things you learn is that the entire site is considered "sacred ground" by the descendants of the original inhabitants. In times past, members of the Muscogee (Creek) families buried their loved ones under their river-cane beds when they passed. Over several hundred years, most of the village became one large cemetery. What this means today is archaeological excavation is next to impossible. Only one of the site's mounds has been fully excavated, but it revealed a tremendous amount insight into the lifestyle of ancient city's inhabitants.
The Etowah Indian Mounds were built over many generations, each adding its own later. One mound, the tallest, was dedicate to the Chief. Another mound was dedicated to the superstar ball players (little has changed in 1,000 years.) The excavated mound was found to be a mortuary mound, final resting place for over 300 highly regarded tribe members.
Opinions differ as to the significance of the other mounds (10+ total). I have my opinions, but I'm hardly an expert. Click here for many more pictures and details.