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Talking stones: Cherokee syllabary in Manitou Cave, Alabama

  • Beau Duke Carroll (a1) (a2), Alan Cressler (a3), Tom Belt (a4) (a5), Julie Reed (a6) (a7) and Jan F. Simek (a2)...

Abstract

Inside Manitou Cave in modern Alabama, nineteenth-century Cherokees carried out sacred ceremonies, recording their activities on the walls using Cherokee syllabary, a system invented in nearby Willstown by Cherokee scholar Sequoyah. Through collaboration between modern Cherokee scholars and Euro-American archaeologists, the authors report and interpret—for the first time—the inscriptions in Manitou Cave. These reveal evidence for secluded ceremonial activities at a time of crisis for the Cherokee. Pressures from the surrounding white populations disrupted the Cherokee ancient lifeways, culminating in their forcible relocation in the 1830s along the Trail of Tears.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence (Email: jsimek@utk.edu)

References

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Weeks, R. & Tankersley, K.. 2011. Talking leaves and rocks that teach: the archaeological discovery of Sequoyah's oldest written record. Antiquity 85: 978–93. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003598X00068435
Zogry, M.J. 2010. Anetso, the Cherokee ballgame: at the center of ceremony and identity. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
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Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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