Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Saved From Certain Destruction

Whenever I'm in the Crystal River area of Florida I like to visit the Crystal River Archeological Site. It's composed of a set of various mounds that are pre-Columbian. These are some of the oldest known mounds in North America.

Recently much has been made of the destruction of an ancient temple mound in Belize. When a construction company destroyed a huge artifact of the pre-Columbian civilization for the building stone that was held within it. But this is nothing new. The history of the Americas is packed with such stories, and you don't have to range far to find them.

The main temple mound at the Crystal River site was almost destroyed by a real estate
developer for the very same reason the one in Belize was destroyed. The capitalist asswipe wanted the material of which the temple was constructed to use in building nearby roads and houses. To this cause a bulldozer was used to begin dismantling the huge mound, and only last-minute intervention prevented him from going through with it.

As it was, even though most of the main mound was saved, the enormous ramp that led to the summit of the temple mound was all but wiped out, the oyster shell material of which it was made carted away to serve as foundations for roads and concrete.

Carole ascending the main temple mound.

Because this rapacious money-grubbing bastard was halted in his destructive drive, we have the mound system today in a fairly intact plot. One can see the two major temple mounds, the big burial mound, and several other mound systems within the small park. And looking at these, one can get a general idea of what the place may have looked like when it was a major local village in the days long before Europeans arrived to lay ruin to it all.
The side of the mound. You can see where the ramp used to be but was removed by bulldozers and dump trucks.

 I have a lot of affection for this park. I first visited it when I was a young child with my father. It hasn't changed much since those days, decades gone. And I'm glad that it has been effectively protected for all to see and enjoy.

The back of the mound closest to the water where most of the damage was done. This entire side of the huge temple mound was utterly destroyed, along with the material that made up the vast ramp that led down to the plaza area of the complex.
This was part of a series of stones that were apparently used in worship services. You can still make out part of a human figure carved into this side of the stone. (In the center, toward the top, you can make out two eyes and an open mouth. Not unlike the face in Edvard Munch's THE SCREAM.)
Carole enjoying the view from the top of the main temple mound.

 Mayan Temple Destroyed.

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MarkGelbart said...

The only mounds I've ever seen in person are the Etowah Indian Mounds in Cartersville, Georgia.

I believe they are much higher than that one at Crystal River.

James Robert Smith said...

I've only seen the Etowah mounds once. The Crystal River mounds are much, much older.

The biggest mounds that I've seen are the ones at Ocmulgee in Macon, GA. Well worth seeing. They are tremendous--especially the central temple mound.

The builders at Crystal River were mainly using oyster shell middens to build their mounds, which limited them in size and scope a bit.

stan said...

Town Creek indian mound out near the Pee Dee were interesting (in the greater Charlotte area). Great to learn some history prior to the white folks.

James Robert Smith said...

I've never been to the Town Creek Indian Mound!! I need to do something about that this weekend.

Kent Tankersley said...

We happened to have visited Crystal River once on the way to Homosassa almost 20 years ago. I have also been to Etowah only once, despite it being so close to where I grew up. An impressive place -- interesting to imagine what it was like when it was still populated.

James Robert Smith said...

Homosassa would have still been a private park when you went. It's now owned by the State of Florida. There aren't very many of the big springs still in private hands in Florida. Every year there are more of them as public property, which is the way it should be. Florida now owns Silver Springs, which was great news to me! When they get these great natural features that were parks, they generally shut down the amusement rids and remove them. They also close the zoos sometimes associated with them and find good homes for the animals. In the case of Homosassa, they decided to keep the zoo, but only populate it with animals native to Florida. They couldn't find a home for "Lu" the hippo (he's 57 damned years old) so they made him an official citizen of Florida and he's still there.

Kirk G said...

Hooray for Lou! I remember seeing him about 20 years ago when we stopped by! And the "splatter zone" sign...such good memories!

As for Indian Mounds, here in SE Ohio, we have several of the Adena tribe, but not many protected. They are nothing compared to yours. The exception is the Serpent Mound near Peebles, ohio, which is a raised effigy, and is remarkable. However, it looks more like a golf course bunker from ground level. It PROBABLY dates back to a meteor impact nearby that the natives are honoring/recording with this religious structure. For more info, google "Serpent Mound, Ohio".

James Robert Smith said...

Yeah, old "Lou" is still with us. 57 years old!! I doubt he'd have survived a move to another location.

There are many great mounds here in the South. Many more were destroyed.

I regret not stopping to see a really huge one on the way back from Missouri a few years ago. We were tired and didn't feel like stopping, but that was a mistake. It's a monster of a temple mound on a major river that flows into the Mississippi River.

We're thinking of heading to Ohio...maybe this camp at Hocking Hills State Park.

Kirk G said...

Well, if you do come to Ohio, Hocking Hills State park is about a half hour from home. I'd love to come meet you in person if it could be arranged. See you then, eh?

James Robert Smith said...


When my wife keeps downloading information on a particular park, I know that we're going there and that there will be no turning back. She's really keen on visiting that one.

Kirk G said...

Hocking Hills State Park involves about seven smaller parks or features in the same clustered area, each showing a set of falls, rock overhang or unique feature, like the gorge at Old Man's Cave. However, you must stay on the trails and NOT hike at dusk. Every year, there are fatal falls from off the rock ledges. Come have fun, but be careful!

Kirk G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirk G said...

Here's the most recent article on this topic. Use caution and follow the trails.

James Robert Smith said...

Thanks for the links, Kirk!

Yeah, I got the impression from cursory investigation of Hocking Hills SP that it's a collection of several closely related recreation areas. We pretty much came to that conclusion when we were looking for campsites for our travel trailer.

It doesn't take much to get killed around cliffs and rocks. Careless people will always find a way to get hurt.