Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site
813 Indian Mounds Rd., S.W.
Cartersville, GA 30120
Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site won Cartersville's 2007 People's Choice Awards. If the locals like it, you can bet it is worth a visit.
Home to several thousand Native Americans between 1000 and 1550 A.D., this 54-acre site contains six earthen mounds, a plaza, a village area, borrow pits and defensive ditch. This is the most intact Mississippian Culture site in the Southeast. Evidence suggests that the people who built Etowah were the ancestors of the Creek people.
Although archaeologists have been digging at Etowah for 120 years, only 9% of this site has been excavated. A project utilizing remote sensing equipment determined that 140 buildings once stood on the site, ranging from dense clusters of houses around small plazas to some very large buildings.
A 63-foot flat-topped earthen knoll was likely used as a platform for the home of the priest-chief. In another mound, nobility were buried in elaborate costumes accompanied by items they would need in their after-lives. Today, you may tour the museum where exhibits interpret daily life in the once self-sufficient community, and then take home a souvenir from the gift shop.
Artifacts show how the natives decorated themselves with shell beads, tattoos, paint, complicated hairdos, feathers and copper ear ornaments. Well-preserved stone effigies and objects made of wood, sea shells and stone are also displayed. A nature trail leads to the Etowah River and winds through the forest, showing how early civilizations used native trees.
In addition, a wattle and daub house was constructed on the site in the spring and summer of 2008 by American Indians, Etowah staff and volunteers. Utilizing an original archaeological floor plan of a house that was at Etowah around 1250 to 1325 A.D., it was built of upright posts with woven green cane (wattle) between each. Daub made of Georgia red clay was mixed with grass and water and "daubed" to the wattle.
A number of special events are scheduled throughout the year, including:
- Great Etowah Adventure in April. Demonstrations of native peoples skills.
- Native Grasses and Wildflower Nature Walk in May. Experts identify various native grasses and flowers.
- Day of Discovery at Etowah in June. Recent findings at Etowah Indian Mounds will be discussed. Afterward, climb the top of a mound and walk along the Etowah River.
- Junior Ranger Day Camp at Etowah in June. A three-day camp for ages 9-12.
- Indian Flute and Dancing in June.
- Flint Knapping in August. Demonstrations of Flintknapping, the making of projectile points from different types of stone.
- Lecture Series: Georgia's Indian Heritage in September.
- Skills of the Past in October. Weaponry, flintknapping, basketweaving and pottery-making will be demonstrated.
- Torch Light Tour of the Ancient City in October. Walk along a torch-lit path and illuminated mounds.
With 20 picnic tables and riverside benches, the Historic Site is great place to bring your own lunch and enjoy it outside. However, note that the site has no reserve-able facilities.
Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; and Sunday 2:00 to 5:30 p.m. It is closed Monday (except holidays), Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission is $2.50 to $5.00. Group rates are available with advance notice.
Located at 813 Indian Mounds Rd., S.W., Cartersville, 30120, Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site is five miles southwest of I-75 exit #288. Follow the brown directional signs. For more information, call 770-387-3747 or see www.gastateparks.org/info/etowah.
Photos courtesy of Melanie Gibbs