Thanks to Thornton, his story of the discovery of Mayan ruins in Northern Georgia has been circulating on the Internet. But is it true?
This week, Thorton posted his story headlined "Massive 1,100+ year old Maya site discovered in Georgia's mountains" in The Examiner.com:
Archaeological zone 9UN367 at Track Rock Gap, near Georgia’s highest mountain, Brasstown Bald, is a half mile (800 m) square and rises 700 feet (213 m) in elevation up a steep mountainside. Visible are at least 154 stone masonry walls for agricultural terraces, plus evidence of a sophisticated irrigation system and ruins of several other stone structures. Much more may be hidden underground. It is possibly the site of the fabled city of Yupaha, which Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto failed to find in 1540, and certainly one of the most important archaeological discoveries in recent times...
The name of Brasstown Bald Mountain is itself, strong evidence of a Maya presence. A Cherokee village near the mountain was named Itsa-ye, when Protestant missionaries arrived in the 1820s. The missionaries mistranslated “Itsaye” to mean “brass.” They added “town” and soon the village was known as Brasstown. Itsa-ye, when translated into English, means “Place of the Itza (Maya)...
Those with experiences at Maya town sites instantly recognized that the Track Rock stone structures were identical in form to numerous agricultural terrace sites in Chiapas, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras. Johannes Loubser’s radiocarbon dates exactly matched the diaspora from the Maya lands and the sudden appearance of large towns with Mesoamerican characteristics in Georgia, Alabama and southeastern Tennessee. Track Rock Gap was the “missing link” that archaeologists and architects had been seeking since 1841...”
Thornton's ideas generated scorn from Mark Williams, a geologist with the University of Georgia who led a group studying the site in question. Williams reacted this week, saying, “The Maya connection to legitimate Georgia archaeology is a wild and unsubstantiated guess on the part of the Thornton fellow. No archaeologists will defend this flight of fancy.”
A peer-reviewed journal Early Georgia, published a paper in Spring 2010 by Johannes (Jannie) Loubser (Stratum Unlimited, LLC) and Douglas Frink (Worcester State College) which details excavations done on the site, which were halted as soon as grave sites were discovered, the holes filled and the rocks replaced in accordance with current federal guidelines. This paper makes no clear assertion on the origin of the stone piles, aside from dating them "almost certainly prehistoric." There was (at that time) no clear answer on the builders of the structures.
UGA scientist Dr. B. T. Thomas of the Department of Environmental Science was more supportive when contacted for a Rawstory.com article. Thomas indicated that, "while it is unlikely that the Mayan people migrated en masse from Central America to settle in what is now the United States, he refused to characterize Thornton’s conclusions as 'wrong,' stating that it is entirely possible that some Mayans and their descendants migrated north, bringing Mayan building and agricultural techniques to the Southeastern U.S. as they integrated with the existing indigenous people there."
Thornton's book on Archaeological Site 9UN367 describes what he sees as evidence of the immigration of Mesoamerican refugees to North America. The book, entitled, Itsapa . . . the Itza Mayas in North America. will be available in early January 2012. Meanwhile, Amazon.com carries Thornton's "Ancient Roots" series.
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