The largest prehistoric mound site in Georgia is located in modern-day Macon and is known as Ocmulgee. It was first recorded in August 1739 by General James Oglethorpe's rangers during an expedition to the territory of the Lower Creeks. The botanist William Bartram wrote extensively of the ecology of the area during his visit in 1773, but the 1873 volume by Charles C. Jones, Antiquities of the Southern Indians, Particularly of the Georgia Tribes, was the first to treat the archaeological significance of the site. Professional excavations began at Ocmulgee in 1933 under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution, using Civil Works Administration labor. Investigations continued under a variety of sponsorships until December 1936, when the locality was formally named a national monument. Excavation of the mounds, village sites, earth lodge, and funeral mound revealed an occupation of the Macon Plateau spanning more than 7,000 years. The funeral mound was found to contain log tombs, bundles of disarticulated bones, flexed burials, and cremations. Grave goods included uniquely patterned copper sun disks that were found at only one other site in the Southeast - the Bessemer site in Alabama - so the two ceremonial centers were established as contemporaries. In this classic work of archaeological research and analysis, Charles Fairbanks has not only offered a full treatment of the cultural development and lifeways of the builders of Ocmulgee but has also related them effectively to other known cultures of the prehistoric Southeast.
Charles H. Fairbanks and Frank M. Setzler are both deceased, Mark Williams is Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Georgia and coeditor of Lamar Archaeology: Mississippian Chiefdoms in the Deep South.