New Dates Obtained for Indigenous Council House in Georgia

Florida Council HouseATHENS, GEORGIA—According to a statement released by the University of Georgia, members of the Muscogee Nation, archaeologist Victor Thompson of the University of Georgia Laboratory of Archaeology, and their colleagues suggest that people gathered at a council house at the Cold Springs site in central Georgia some 1,500 years ago to practice collective decision making. The Cold Springs site was excavated in the early 1970s before it was partially submerged by Lake Oconee. New radiocarbon dates for artifacts from the site housed in the University of Georgia’s collections indicate that the council house, marked by concentric circles of postholes on a platform mound, was first built about A.D. 500. It had been previously thought that such structures served ceremonial purposes until about A.D. 1000, when they became political structures inhabited by the sole ruler of a chiefdom. This view, however, is in conflict with the traditional knowledge of the Muscogee Nation. “We still have a National Council in our council house, which meets within it and passes national laws—it’s been this way for hundreds of generations,” explained Muscogee (Creek) National preservation officer Turner Hunt. Read the original scholarly article about this research in American Antiquity. To read about Native American rock mounds along the Oconee River, go to “Letter from Georgia: Soaring With Stone Eagles.”


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