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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Mysterious mounds hold secrets on South Carolina's Fig Island

From the Myrtle Beach Sun News:

Fig Island looks like any of the thousands of tidal hummocks along the S.C. coast.

Craggy cedar trees and palms with every other crown blown off rise over the surrounding tidal creeks. Prickly-pear cactus and bush palmetto carpet the surface.

The vegetation disguises one of the most important, and least appreciated, cultural history sites in the country.

Much of Fig Island was built by man, not nature.

Three of the four separate pieces of high ground that make up the 40-acre island were constructed around 4,000 years ago. Oyster shells - with some conch-type shells, broken pottery and a few animal bones mixed it - were crafted into stadiumlike rings and crescents for reasons that remain a mystery.

Fig Island is to the Southeast what the cliff dwellings are to the desert Southwest. It's twice as old as Rome's Colosseum and, like that facility, might have been used for public spectacles by the natives who lived here in the Late Archaic period.


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