We're home from vacation. Now we begin to plan our next trip. Until then, we'll savor the things we saw and experienced these past couple of weeks.
One of the places I wanted to see while I was in that part of Florida was to revisit a spot I'd once seen in the company of my dad. My father was much interested in the cultures and lives of the many aboriginal nations who existed on this continent before the arrival of the Europeans. To this end, one of our many journeys in my native South was to the Crystal River State Archeological Park where modern people can see the remains of a village that is ancient, indeed. Many thousands of years old, it was built by pre-Columbian folk who may have had their own connections to various old cultures of Central America. They were long gone, even before the arrival of the first Spaniards to these shores, so we can only speculate from the shattered bits they left behind in this shadow-village.
The most impressive part of the old place is a huge shell mound composed of the remains of uncounted meals--the broken bits of oyster shells that were piled higher and higher over the years until it formed a vast temple mound about thirty feet in height. When I saw this spot as a twelve-year-old, the mound was covered in trees. Today, the park service has cleared all of the trees on the slopes and left just a few old live oaks at the summit. Also, there is now a steep staircase leading to the top and a wooden viewing platform has been built there.
Unfortunately, in 1961, before the state of Florida could purchase the land, would-be developers used a bulldozer to level a vast ramp the natives had built that led to the top of the mound. This was classic pre-Columbian architecture. We have some photos of the mound before that section was destroyed to be used as fill, but it's gone forever due to the actions of greedy, short-sighted fucks. Today, the wooden staircase supplied by the park service gets you to the top, rather than the ramp the builders intended.
The marsh side of the temple mound as it appears now, after the 1961 insanity when bulldozers destroyed the temple ramp to use the material as land fill in the marsh.
One of the most interesting artifacts that remains on the grounds is the "Eye Stone". This is supposed by modern researchers to have been some kind of holy relic to the people who lived at this location. It may have been a kind of shrine or a place to go and pray or to give sacrifice. No one is sure, but this does seem plausible. It was amazing to stand before this stone and look at it, and to know that it was here, the center of some older religion and philosophy many thousands of years before the ones that hold power today.
Eye Stone with outlines provided by me, since the details are not as clear in my photos as they are in person.