Entrance to Earth Lodge
Archaeologists have determined that human habitation at this Mississippian site, formerly known as the Ocmulgee Old Fields and now the Ocmulgee National Monument, dates back at least 17,000 years.
Interior of Earth Lodge, with Eagle Platform
The Earth Lodge was uncovered by Dr. A. R. Kelley in 1934. It was reconstructed between 1933 and 1938. It served as a Mississippian Council House. The original clay floor, with the raised eagle platform, was exposed by employees of the Civil Works Administration and Work Projects Administration under the direction of James A. Ford. The Mississippians had burned the lodge, perhaps as an act of ritual cleansing or something entirely different. The charred remains of the construction, dated to 1015 AD, were arrayed in a spoke pattern and protected the original floor. The roof was not originally covered with sod, but it has been employed today to preserved the site.
Rear View of Earth Lodge
One should keep in mind that during the Mississippian Period, these mounds were not covered in grass but rather in the natural clay of the landscape.
Great Temple Mound
This is Early Mississippian flat-topped temple mound, 300 feet wide by 270 feet long by 40 feet high, is one of several in widely scattered locations across Georgia. It dates to circa 900-1100 AD. It was the principal religious structure at the Ocmulgee site till at least 1200 AD. A lesser mound (not pictured) stands adjacent to this one.
Excavations on this site uncovered parallel rows of charred corn cobs dating to circa 900AD-1200AD, indicating an early agricultural use. At some point, the field was transformed into a mound. The mound is 90 feet wide by 160 feet long by 6 feet high.
These trenches can be found in several locations around Ocmulgee National Monument. These, near the Cornfield Mound, are 18 feet wide by 7 feet deep. It is unclear as to whether they were defensive in nature or if they were borrow pits for the mounds.
Ocmulgee National Monument Visitors Center
Constructed between 1938-1951, the Streamline Moderne visitors center is a landmark in its own right. It houses a wonderful collection of artifacts collected on the site.