Friday, December 23, 2011

Georgia Mayan Ruins a Hoax

Yesterday Raw Story and a number of other web sites passed along a report that a ruined Mayan city had been discovered in northern Georgia. This story made its way across the Internet, spread in part by how implausible it seemed. The Mayans, whose civilization covered the Yucatan peninsula and other portions of Mexico and Central America, were not thought to have settled anywhere in the continental United States. So either this was an incredible, groundbreaking archaeological discovery or an outright fraud. Sadly for those of us who would like to be able to visit a Mayan site that's closer than Mexico, it proved to be the latter.

According to the report, picked up from a fly-by-night Web pub called the Examiner, a small group of archeologists led by University of Georgia scholar Mark Williams discovered the 1,100-year-old city “on the southeast side of Brasstown Bald in the Nacoochee Valley.” Only, the report “is not true,” according to Williams, reached by email. “I have been driven crazy by this.”

The original story was written by one Richard Thornton — who claims that “like most Georgia and South Carolina Creeks, I carry a trace of Maya DNA,” and that his ancestors came to North America fleeing “volcanic eruptions, wars, and drought” — and it has certainly caught fire across the Twitter/blogosphere thanks to the general obsession with the 2012 Mayan prophecies. (Even the venerable Washington Post interrupted its regularly-scheduled news rapportage to alert readers that “a second brick found at a Mayan ruin also contained the Dec. 21, 2012, date.”)

So just like the 2012 nonsense, this "discovery" turned out to be entirely made up. The archaeologist who supposedly led the team who found ruins at the site was never even there and various other "facts" included in the report are similarly invented. As I've mentioned before, what clinched it for me on the 2012 hysteria is that the Mayans didn't "disappear" at all. They still live in the Yucatan and Central America and many of them practice their traditional religious beliefs. Whenever they get asked about their calendar and the supposed end of the world by New Agers, the answer is always the same - the doomsday scenario has nothing to do with the Mayan culture or religion. If the real Mayans don't even believe it, why should anyone else?

UPDATE: While it's possible that there are ancient Native American ruins at the Brasstown Bald site, they almost certainly are not Mayan. The Mississippians are known to have constructed settlements in northern Georgia, and while they built cities somewhat similar to those found in Mexico and Central America there is no known historical connection between their culture and that of the Mayans.

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10 comments:

technosprazer said...

the story seems plausible in that the ancient ziggurats (step pyramids) like those found in Iran/Iraq like in mesoamerica are also just mounds of dirt. The book "The lost Realms" by Zachariah Sitchin is a fascinating discussion of MessoAmerican preColumbian cibilizaton

Ananael Qaa said...

It's not so much that it's completely implausible, but rather that so many of the purported facts quoted in the original report turned out to be false.

I'd love to go see some Mayan ruins located in the continental United States, and there very well could be some that haven't been discovered. From the evidence I've seen, though, I just don't think this site is one of them.

MrGamma said...

Stonehenge was built in 1898

Ananael Qaa said...

Heh. By the aliens, right? ;-)

MrGamma said...

Migrant workers apparently... Looks like an april fools joke, or a Russian media hoax...

I'm more prone to think the "aliens" are elongated skull people, they come in all sizes. Nazca area maybe? Lost tribes throughout civilization... that sort of thing.

Unknown said...

See my Video on You Tube " Adventure to Track Rock Gap Georgia Ancient Mayan Ruins and Petroglyphs ~ 2012"

Jeremy McMichael said...

Its set up according to archeoastronomy, much like every Maya site. They found a copper tablet that was virtually identical to one found in Mexico, and they made Maya Blue from palygorskite clay in Georgia and they compared it to a sample from known Maya ruions in the Yucatan... It was a match... Right down to the high quartz peak. Palygosrkite clay is also not found in great quantities in Mexico. I have read articles on the internet saying it was a hoax and saying it was real..... But the problem is.... There is actual scientific evidence to at least make it a possiblity in peoples minds...

Scott Stenwick said...

There certainly is some scientific evidence that this is a real archaeological site. The "hoax" portion, to my way of thinking, is the attribution to the Mayans based on speculative interpretation at best. It's almost as if the author of the original report assumed that if the site was a Native American pyramid it had to be Mayan, ignoring that the Mississippian culture that is known to have lived in the area built similar structures.

Or, I could take the more cynical perspective and point out that calling the site "Mayan" played right into the media hype surrounding 2012 and was therefore picked up by the news media, whereas if they had announced the discovery of a new Mississippian site those same outlets would have most likely completely ignored the find. Cahokia was a much bigger and more significant Mississippian city than the Brasstown Bald site, and it certainly has never attracted much attention in the national news.

Mel said...

Influence through trade is the story of the world and is very plausible, despite distance and difficulty. Black and white sensationalism is part of what spreads influence, so get excited and then think how we have have spread ideas for thousands of years. The internet is just the latest way, but stories around the campfire after a long journey trading is what native americans probably did ,as anyone can imagine. Nothing has changed in that regard. The 'hoax' is in the presentation, because it sells soap!

LHatch said...

They were not Mayans but clearly their descendants. The Hitchiti Creek tribe has many Mayan words in their vocabulary and their DNA is often partly Mayan. When subtract out the politics (and that is ALWAYS important), Mexicans wanting to claim this tribe for themselves (more "this is still our land") and the local tribes wanting the same autonomous, unique history...there are few advocates for the Mayans left. Then you add in the legions of historians too lazy and embarrassed to re-write (actually correct) history and the truth here is going to be a hard sell.