The Ocmulgee National Monument
by Olivia Varnson
Along the east bank of the Ocmulgee River is the 702-acre park that served as the starting point for the city of Macon. The Ocmulgee National Monument preserves a history that dates back over 17,000 years ago. Several cultures have come and gone, leaving behind the trademarks of their customs. Perhaps the most noticeable and memorable trademarks are the ceremonial mounds, including the Great Temple. These temples were created by hand as part of the South Appalachian Mississippian culture more than 1,000 years ago. They served as meeting places, shelters and sacred grounds. Even viewing them today, visitors can marvel at the skill and engineering prowess of this ancient culture.
Also within the park are the Lamar Mounds and Village Site. This site is home to two platform mounds. They are similar to the temples of the Mississippian culture but differ in that they are rounded in shape instead of rectangular. A palisade surrounds the site and it dates back to about 1350 to 1600. Pottery found at the site is known for being some of the first recorded pottery to be crafted in the country.
While visiting the Ocmulgee National Monument, guests can view artifacts and exhibits that date back more than 12,000 years. Inside the museum, guests can also watch a 17-minute movie about the historic significance of the area. You can ride bicycles on the park road or enjoy the 5 miles of grounds by foot and take in the beautiful wetlands. In March, the Monument offers Lantern Light Tours for after dark visits. It’s impossible to measure the weight of 17,000 years, but visiting the Ocmulgee National Monument gives insight to gifts of nature and the importance of preserving cultures.
The Ocmulgee National Monument is open daily from 9am to 5pm.