Discover Middle Georgia: Ocmulgee National Monument
MACON, Georgia. (41NBC/WMGT) – Of the 129 National Monuments in the United States, one can be found in the core of Middle Georgia.
Macon’s Ocmulgee National Monument is a prehistoric American Indian site.
Though it dates back 17,000 years, it was first discovered in the 1700’s. European explorer William Bartram noticed mounds which he called “memorials to the ancients.”
Somewhere between 2,000-2,500 villagers lived in the area. The mounds were built so that the leaders would be able to sit at the top and look down over the village people. However, the villagers didn’t have an easy task at hand when it came to constructing the mounds.
Jim David, Superintendent of Ocmulgee National Monument, explains the process of building the mounds: “These mounds were built a basket load of soil at a time. People would have to put a basket load of soil, carry it up and dump it down.”
It wasn’t until the 1930’s that an archaeological dig began in Macon.
The Parks Service employed over 800 men to work at the monument and dig up a collection of items including a special spear head that was used to hunt woolly mammoths during the ice age.
David says “there are very few places in the country that can prove that they have been used [since the ice age].”
The Ocmulgee National Monument has the largest archaeological collection in the entire Parks Service, with over 3.5 million items as proof. It is also the only monument to have an earth lodge floor that was discovered in pristine conditions and is now preserved.
Inside the mound remains the real flooring of an earth lodge where tribal warriors used to gather.
Aside from the mounds, the Ocmulgee National Monument has much more to offer visitors. The monument features six and a half miles of walking trail with vegetation and wildlife and pathways along the Ocmulgee River.
Barbara Shaffer participated in an archaeological dig during the 1980’s. She loves the nature and history that the Ocmulgee National Monument offers visitors.
Shaffer describes visits to the monument as “spiritual” and “compelling,” considering how villagers lived their lives there thousands of years ago.
The Ocmulgee National Monument is open 7 days a week from 9 to 5 year round, except for its closings on Christmas and New Years Day. Admission to the monument is free.