Written by Joseph B. Mahan

By including ethnological context in the scope of my presentation, I am requiring myself to treat with the entire culture of the people under discussion and to understand its nature sufficiently well to define its context, meaning its relationship to other cultures. Specifically, I must deal with the religious aspect of the culture, for clearly this is the facet which relates to burial practices and, especially in this instance, it is the art associated with burials which is the point of my presentation.

We may bring the subject into sharper focus and see that it is the mythology with which we are dealing, for without knowing symbolism – the mythology – which is the product of the real and legendary religious history, the art cannot be understood. Recovering and understanding the mythology I am suggesting underlies the art of the objects taken from

Burrows’ Cave has been an effort that has occupied much of my time and energy for more than the past forty years. This paper is an effort to interpret essential elements of this mythology. My interpretation is, of course, based on what I have been able to learn of the religious lore of the Yuchis, the Cherokees, the Shawanos, and various Algonquin peoples. If much I have to say seems to apply also to the Ancient Egyptians, the Sumerians, the Minoans, and several other historically-known cultures with which you may be familiar, I can only tell you this is no accidental occurrence. It is not from independent invention. It is the same basic system that is common to all of them.

The people who are buried in Burrows’ Cave were sun kings, interred with their wives and children, retainers, much of their material wealth, clothing, accouterments, and supplies of food to see them safely to the land beyond the sunset. These sun-related semi-divine mortals were the descendents of extraterrestrial immortal progenitors who had come to earth in fire ships, had resided for a while, had upgraded the humanoids they found here by modifying the genes of these children of earth thus producing a hybrid progeny. To these hybrid offspring, the “children of the earth and the sky,” the celestial parents imparted knowledge to be taught to a select few and passed intact from generation to generation until such time as it would be needed.

The immortal ancestors then went away to their abode in the sky promising that they would come again at some distant time. Meanwhile, their descendants were always to produce sun-related leaders or kings for themselves and other peoples they found to be in need of them. These kings were taught skills and esoteric knowledge to treat illnesses, govern wisely, and direct the efforts of builders, artisans, and navigators in their continual undertaking to conduct commerce and maintain contact with the most distant places of the earth.

The identity of the semi-divine leaders, teachers and healers was concealed in their names for themselves, the meanings of which were apparent only to the speakers of the “Red Man’s” language or that of the allied Moon people, the Yuchis. Neither language was taught except to neophytes in the learning of the sacred knowledge or to the direct descendents of the original teachers.

These original teachers were spirits and, being from the sky, they were symbolized as birds in the thoughts and the art of their earthly adherents. The greatest of them all was the Thunderbird who was above and beyond the sun, whose voice was the thunder and from whose eyes flashed the lightning. Because this greatest of the spirits was not seen and his true

name could not be spoken, the sun became his symbol. The first order of descent from the Thunderbird was the falcon or hawk or other birds of the falcon family, notably the eagle and the kite. The sun was said to be the right eye of the great spirit and the moon was the left eye. The peacock is the representative of the sun, while the crane or ibis is first in line of descent from the moon. The moon has a special relationship to the earth, whose spirit is personified as a serpent.

This relationship is clearly indicated in the Yuchi and Sanskrit word. Sha, which has the meaning both of falcon or eagle and serpent in the Yuchi language and the same implied double meaning in Sanskrit. It is the determinant stem in such Yuchi words as moon, crane, goose, duck, and conch. There are very similar meanings in Sanskrit, where it seems to apply to anything hatched from an egg. There are other significant connotations in that ancient language. Among these are: sha-kala (half an egg shell); sha-kra (epithet of Indria, equivalent to the Almighty, also associated with the east and the rainbow); shas (teach, rule, govern); shan-khal (name of a snake demon, shell, conch, name of a lawgiver). It is apparent that the stem of Shakya, defined as the “name of a warrior tribe in Kasilauastu which derived its origin from the Sun and in which the Buddha was born,” is the same sha as that being discussed here.

The moon relationship in Sanskrit is found in the word sha-sha (hare) and sha as the stem for two other words interpreted as “the moon i.e. having rabbit marks,” and the “moon having the picture of a rabbit.” There is another name for the moon and the moon god in this ancient language which is equally significant. This is Chandramas, in which the first syllable, chan or kan, is the same as kan which in the Dravidian languages means “eye” or “eye of the peacock.”

The religion of the Thunderbird being thus evident in ancient India, it should be no surprise that Ethel Stewart found it flourishing among the peoples she has traced from Central Asia into North America, the DeneNaDene. Her description of the associated symbolism could apply equally well to the mythology of the North American Zoyaha or Yuchi as it does to their Asian cousins, the Yueh-chih. Ms. Stewart wrote as follows:

In post-vedic times, and probably before the beginning of the Christian era, the Mahayana School of Buddhism engrafted Buddha upon the great archaic Sunbird myth, that myth that was common to all ancient civilizations of the East, from Egypt, Babylon, and India, to China and Japan. They thought of the sun as a great winged bird, and the benefactor of mankind in destroying the hostile spirits of darkness as represented by the nagas (serpents) and dragons. Buddha, himself, has invented spells, or dharanis, to protect people from serpents.

Ms. Stewart’s narrative contains other details that provide evidence of the close relationship of religious beliefs we know to have been held by peoples on the opposite sides of the world. She wrote:

In India, Buddha (Siva), was represented by the peacock, also a destroyer of serpents; in China, he was represented as a sort of cross between an aggus pheasant and the phoenix; in Central Asia, with its Iranian background, Buddha, as the Sunbird, was portrayed as the Eagle-roc of the Saka, Sogdian, Yuehti, Iranian, Turkish population. This monstrous bird, supposedly capable of carrying off elephants, was regarded as a bird of the Sun, as the sun-bird, and, like the peacock, was the enemy of the serpents. The flapping of its great wings was said to produce the rolling of thunder. This was also an attribute of the Sunbird as the Garuda Bird of monstrous ferocity with its thunderbolt iron beak and its thunderbolt claw.

The succession of sun kings continued for long periods. The Sumerians, who had kings of this kinship, told of a hundred generations of them and the time of their telling this was almost two millennia earlier then the one date known so far for those who reigned in the Ohio River drainage and went to their eternal repose in the tombs that comprise the Burrows’ Cave. This date, in turn, is two and a half thousand years earlier then the first historical references we know to the regal and sun-related descendants of these American kings. The descendants just mentioned are the numerous kings and one famous queen who met the Spanish explorer, Hernando DeSoto, on his infamous raid through the American Southeast in the years 1539 to 1542.

This royally-commissioned freebooter led an assemblage of some 700 gentleman adventurers, soldiers, servants, and slaves with hundreds of horses and hogs, and a pack of underfed wolfhounds. The latter were intended as a means of instilling fright among the native peoples and thus helping reduce them to submission. As early into the trek as it was feasible and as often thereafter as circumstances permitted the original heterogeneous following was augmented by the capture of native men to serve as burden bearers and women to assuage the carnal lust of the expedition leaders and such of the common herd as might happen to share in the capture of a helpless female native.

The soldiers were equipped with firearms, steel armor, crossbows, and halberds. These accouterments and the horses upon which some of the men were mounted gave the Spanish a decided advantage in their frequent battles with the natives and made the invaders seem at first to be invincible.

The ill treatment they received at the hands of the unwelcome foreigners and the lethal effects of their weapons and dogs caused the inhabitants of most towns to flee in panic as the Spanish approached. Those who remained or were captured – imparted little information even when an interpreter was fortuitously found a short while after the initial landing of the Europeans at Tampa Bay in May 1539. Enough information was gleaned, however, and recorded in the surviving three narratives by participants in the expedition to provide a reasonable description of the sun kings who reigned in the region the Spanish traversed from Florida via the Carolinas to Arkansas and East Texas.

These rulers may be identified as sun kings by the presence of the syllables cho (zo), chi (eye), or saka (bear) in their names and frequent mention of the mounds upon which they resided. There are mentions as well of temples in which burned a perpetual fire and where the bones of previous kings reposed in chests until they were eventually buried. There are other identifying syllables in the names of these sixteenth century American kings. The first one the Spanish encountered was Uchita, whose name tells us he was related to the moon. The second king who met the Spanish was Mososo, which name, I suspect, reveals his identity as serpent man, who is also akin to the sun.

The syllables just used are words in the “Red Man’s” language or in the Yuchi language, both of which were once used by a priest-king order which functioned among many peoples who lived in North America east of the Great Plains. Zo is the sun, U denoted “above” and chi is “eye.” Combined, U and chi referred to the moon. Mus is “serpent,” and co is “man.” The final syllable in this king’s name (so) is in reality zo, which we know already is “sun.”

While they were still in Florida, the Spanish were told of a rich land far to the northeast which was called Yupaha (Yuchi yupa, “top or first” and -ha, “we are”). This land was said to have much gold, which information sent the Spanish on a determined march in that direction in search of this gold, which they never found, but that is another story. Along the way they encountered a king by the name of Cholupaha, whose name proclaimed his sun heritage, and another whose name identifies him as belonging to the Big Head (To-eh) division of the Yuchi people.

It is important that the Spanish noticed a distinct cultural change when they entered the territory of this Yuchi king on the Flint River in west central Georgia. The Yuchis were the people most closely identified with the sun kings. The Gentleman of Elvas wrote concerning this change:

These houses were different from those behind, which were covered with grass. Thenceforward, they were roofed with cane, after the fashion of tile. They are kept very clean; some have their sides so made of clay as to look like tapia. The women wear blankets, one downward the other over the shoulder, with the right arm free, after the manner of Gypsies. The men wear but one, which they carry over the shoulder in the same way, their loins being covered with a braqueiro of deer-skin, after the fashion of the woolen breech-cloth that was once the custom of Spain.

The long-sought Yupaha was apparently the same as cutifa, (bird-spirit-place) ruled by a chechi (bear), who, in this instance, was a woman. She was also the ruler over a place called Kan-a-Sagua (bear in the Yuchi language). The Spanish kidnapped this lady in order to compel her to provide burden bearers and lead them to a rich province of which they had heard. Its name was co-sha (man-sha). The queen escaped before they reached that place.

On the way to Co-sha, the Spanish spent several days resting at Chi-ya-ha (“Eye-related-we are” in the Yuchi language). While there they were told of a land to the north where there was a forge for copper and for gold as well. This was Chiska, the significance of which was that these were Kispogogee, the division of the Shawano who resided in the Ohio River drainage. The identity encoded in their name is “Eagle-under Man-Earth.”

There is only one more name to be noted in this connection. That is Gue-cho-ya, the name of the king and his town on the Mississippi River. It was in this town, perhaps near the present Clarksdale, Mississippi, where DeSoto died in April 1542. According to the pattern already established for royal names in the region, this one breaks down as Gua (bovine) Choya (sun-related). In another place I have explained at length my deduction that wa means the earth symbolized as a cow. (The Secret, p. 135.)

The relationship between the sun and sacred bull as depicted in the ancient Egyptian city of An, which the Greeks called Heliopolis, is too well known to require repeating here. The same is true of the iconography of the Middle East, notably in Babylon and the Persia of the Achaemenid emperors.

There were other cultures traits the American kings shared with the Egyptian Pharaohs in addition to the already-mentioned practice of riding in litters. One such trait was observed in the case of the king, Tuscalusa, (Black Warrior), whom the Spanish encountered in central Alabama. The DeSoto expedition chronicler, Elvas, mentioned the numerous retainers of this physically impressive king, adding:

One of them shaded him with a circular umbrella, spread wide, the size of a target, with a small stem, and having deer skin extended over cross arm-sticks quartered with red and white, which at a distance made it look of taffeta, the colors were so very perfect.

It is now necessary for me to establish the fact that Indian leaders known in later times were successors to the sun kings of DeSoto’s era. Again the names provide the means of doing this. Chief Samuel W. Brown, Jr. (1874-1957), hereditary and elected chief of the Yuchi Tribe, signed correspondence usually with his name and title, “Chief of the Yuchi Tribe.” When signing formal documents, letters to other leaders, or ending a formal talk, however, he used his “Indian Name,” Sopathla, “Son King.” His father, Samuel Brown, Sr., used the title in the same way. On occasion, when he was in a facetious mood, the younger Brown used another title, namely, the “Bear,” sometimes “Big Bear” or “Papa Bear.”

He explained to me once that a great-uncle was called Sakaseni (Little Bear) because he was born eligible to be chief, although he never achieved that rank.

An aged “Emperor of Cutifachechi,” borne in a palanquin and accompanied by a hundred attendants visited the new colony of Charles Town (Charleston) in 1671. He was said to live “fourteen days’ journey to the northwest” in the approximate area ruled by his female predecessor one hundred and thirty years earlier. In the following few years there were numerous mentions in the Carolina records of this emperor and the fact that much lesser kings as those of the Coosa, Cosaba, Kayowee, and Edisto were subject to him. Before 1680, the apparently stable hierarchy of rulers disintegrated as the result of an invasion of fierce alien people from the north the resident peoples called the Westo or “Enemy.” I believe both circumstances were results of bloody intrusion by the Iroquois into the home-land of the Shawano.

The Natchez, who resided on the Lower Mississippi River, are the most fully described of any of the Sun Kings. Between 1715 and 1728 they resided in the immediate proximity with the French in the colony of Louisiana. These observant foreigners reported that their Indian neighbors were relatively recent migrants from the Ohio River. Several French visitors to their principal town recorded much ethnological detail of these people they called “les natureles.” We learn from these accounts that the Natchez kings were called “Suns;” that they had a temple on a mound in which the fire burned perpetually; that there was a special group of men who were trained to be “Guardians of the Fire,” who retained the traditional history of the tribe in addition to their principal function of keeping the fire alive. The French recorded also that when the Sun died, his wife and children were put to death to accompany him to the spirit world.

The most recent person known to bear the title “chechi” (bear) was the last Emperor of the Cherokees, whom the Carolina colonists called Canacatchee. It is interesting to note that his successor was “Pathkiller,” apparently the American frontiersman’s version of Pathla, the Yuchean word for “king.”

Algonquin chiefs were routinely called “king” and, sometimes, “emperor” by the English colonists. There were King Philip, King Powhatan, Tamachechi, king of the Yamasees, and the Emperor Brim. It is true that kings having the title of Sun King and who traced their ancestry to mythological god kings identical in many respects to the Pharaoh line of Egypt, the Minotaurs of Crete, and the sun kings of ancient Mesopotamia, lived and reigned in North America. This being so, there must be other traces of them and the peoples over whom they ruled than merely a few names. There are.

There are historical records describing the domain of the most widespread of these people, the Shawano, called the Chaouanons by the seventeenth century French Jesuits who watched helplessly in the years between 1645 and 1670 as the populous, peaceful towns of these people south of the Lakes to the valleys of the Cumberland and Tennessee were utterly destroyed during repeated raids by the Seneca and other Iroquois using the firearms they obtained from the Dutch and Swedes of New York and environs. The defenseless Shawano, the French writers report, had an empire that reached from the Lakes to the Savannah River and the Gulf of Mexico. It is certain this was a true confederation composed of numerous distinct peoples. Those the French named specifically as suffering the most severe losses included: the Erie, the Illinois, the Miami, and the Sauk as well as the Shawano themselves.

Those just named were in the area north of the Ohio which the French could observe firsthand. The devastation south of the river was so complete that the valleys of the Cumberland and Tennessee across central Tennessee and Kentucky remained unpopulated for more then a century and were known as the “Dark and Bloody Land.” Some of the raiders made their way into Upper South Carolina with the results just mentioned, the dissolution of Cutifachechi’s empire. A result also was the migration of the Natchez from their homeland in the lower Mississippi Valley. The Cherokees kept a legend alive for generations that in a battle between the Seneca and certain white people they called the “moon-eyed” people the bones of the latter were stacked so high they formed an island in the Ohio River.

If a confederation existed over such a vast area there should be evidence proving this was so. There is in abundance; it simply has not been recognized for what it is. To study this was a major reason why ISAC came into being. This evidence is of several sorts. First, there has been known to archaeologists for more than fifty years evidence of an elaborate uniform religion associated with the flat-top temple mounds of the era they call Mississippian and dated from 900 to 1600 AD. The character of this religion is known principally from the iconography displayed on ceremonial artifacts placed in the graves of priests associated with it and their families.

There is wide variety in this art, but the details and styles are the same on objects from sites throughout the area drained by the central Mississippi and the Ohio Rivers, hence the name Mississippian. This art impressed into sheet copper, and engraved on sea shells, mostly conch or whelk, depicts men with the attributes of birds (eagles or falcons), with attributes of serpents, and serpents with features of birds, (Plumed Serpent). There are also sun circles, equilateral crosses, swastikas of several kinds, stylized vaginas representing the Earth Mother, and men in ceremonial dress performing what appear to be ritualistic acts, namely, holding a pot containing the united fire of the sun and the moon and “leading by the right hand.” Examples of these items found at mound sites as far apart as Spiro in eastern Oklahoma, Kohokia in East St. Louis, Illinois, Moundville, Alabama, and Etowah, Georgia, are so similar as to appear to be the work of the same craftsman. The first archaeologists to discover this religion and to recognize its uniformity throughout the region just described called it the “Southern Cult.”

It was once believed that this “earth-fire-sun” religion was of relatively recent origin and that it spread outward from the Middle Mississippi area toward the end of the first millennium AD fully developed. It was believed to have been introduced by a priestly organization, the members of which were supposed to have introduced the cultivation of maize to the area. This has since been proved to be erroneous as corn cobs have been found in sites far older than the dates established for the Mississippian epoch and religious sites from the preceding “Woodland” epoch contain art replete with the same symbolism, differing from the “Southern Cult” only in art style.

It has also become clear that the religious meanings depicted on the ceremonial items were far older in the area then the Temple Mound era. Although they were a thousand years and more older, the burial mounds of the Hopewell era contain art incorporating many of the same symbols. Earlier than Mississippian also were the vast earth works and stone walls along the Mississippi and its tributaries, notably the Ohio. These were

carefully surveyed and recorded in the mid-nineteenth century. Some of those were shown at the time to be duplicates of square Roman forts from central Europe; others were found later to contain the remains of Celtic-type iron forges, but they were largely ignored by the “Establishment” archaeologists for more than a century.

Since the earliest settlement of the Ohio River Valley following the close of the Revolution, there have been found numberless bits of evidence attesting to millennia-old contacts with Europe and the ancient Mediterranean. These included glass and bronze items, coins, swords and knives. There were fired bricks and stone structures. A cache of three hundred or more Egyptian-style mummies was found in caverns beneath what is now Lexington, Kentucky in 1775 by the first settlers there. The intruders removed all the bodies from the cave, searched them, and, finding nothing of value to themselves, burned the entire lot of mummies, their wrappings and accouterments. This has until now been the greatest loss that is known to have occurred to American archaeology.

Other clear evidence of Mediterranean influence was found, including a series of drawings on the walls of the “Cave-in-Rock” on the Ohio. These showed people wearing indisputably ancient Roman-type clothing including togas and sandals. These thing were reported in the 1820s and 1830s but were ignored by the science-oriented scholars who came into dominance in this country during the 1840s.

In addition to the physical evidence, there should be traces of this widespread, sophisticated culture among the native peoples of the area in which it flourished, as it has long been apparent to all of us interested in the matter that there was no major movement of foreign people into the area occupied by the Shawano for centuries before the invasions of the sixteenth and seventeenth century Europeans. Here we are in luck for this evidence exists in great quantity and is widely dispersed in the area from Massachusetts to Louisiana and from Minnesota to Florida. This is indisputable evidence contained in the written and spoken forms of the languages of the people whose ancestors have occupied the area since Woodland times, or who were themselves present in eastern North America during those times.

The art from the Burrows’ Cave clearly shows ancient Egyptian, Libyan, and Cypro-Minoan influence. This is to be expected. Not only is such influence attested from the names and religious concepts I have enumerated above, it has been recognized and verified repeatedly as existing among surviving peoples who were once subject to the sun kings, notably the Algonquins, by Barry Fell and other members of the Epigraphic Society. Examples of such verified instances of North African and Mediterranean influences include:

  1. Barry Fell’s statement that “Many Micmac signs resemble Egyptian hieroglyphs or hieratic signs, and when the Egyptian sense of such signs is applied to the Micmac mimics, logical and demonstrably correct translations emerge.” (ESOP, vol. 7, no. 157.)
  2. Fell’s further statement that “Cypro-Minoan syllabaries are widely distributed in American archaeological contexts. They range from at least as far north as the Canadian border of Michigan, eastward to the Atlantic coast in Maine, southward through the Cherokee lands and on into the Cuenca area of the northern Inca Empire.”
  3. The use of the Cypriot syllabary to write one of the major American languages is proved in the case of the inscribed gold plate from Peru, which Paul Cheesman presented in an article in ESOP (vol.7, no. 301) and Fell declared is “here used to render the Kechwa tongue.”
  4. The series of characters on the Davenport tablet which Fell identified in America B.C. as Egyptian hieroglyphs describing a diagram of an Egyptian ritual.
  5. The existence of Libyan inscriptions on Kentucky sculptures reported in ESOP (vol. 6, no. 128). Fell wrote at length extolling these six sculptured life-size heads from a cave on the Virginia-Kentucky border. He quoted LaPage DuPratz that the most learned of the Natchez suns led him to conclude that the Natchez came to North America from North Africa, crossing the Atlantic in the manner that Diodorus Siculus had recorded for the Carthaginians. Fell summed up the evidence with this statement: “I conclude from these facts and from the direct evidence of the inscriptions on the sculptures, that the sculptures represent ancient Natchez suns, and that they were carved at an epoch when the Natchez still used Libyan Ogam script, and still occupied lands in Kentucky and Virginia later yielded to Cherokees and other tribes.”
  6. Priests of the so-called Southern Cult used the same North African tongue. Gloria Farley has reported two discoveries that make this fact indisputable. One of these she reported in ESOP (vol. 11, no. 273-A) under the title “Ancient Writing from Etowah Mounds.” In November 1983 she discovered that a 7-inch shell gorget from a burial mound at the famous Georgia mounds contained an inscription in Numidian letters. Fell translated the inscription to read: “A disk to give pleasure, a religious artifact of good omen, to lead (you) by the right hand.”

Subsequently, Mrs. Farley discovered that a stone plate from the Spiro Mound of Oklahoma contained letters from the same alphabet. (ESOP vol. 12, no. 301). Fell found this to be a “rebus of Numidian (Libyan) letters meaning Divine is the spouse of the sun’ and referring to Tanit.

A graphic bit of evidence proving that American sun kings were related to those of the Old World is the solar boat containing a figure of Tanit pictured on a shell gorget from the tomb of one of these kings, the
famous Craig mound at Spiro, Oklahoma. Dramatic verification of the identification of this drawing being of a solar boat exists in the fact that a ten-foot-long copper boat was found in the same tomb. In 1978, Gloria Farley, Jim Sullivan and I sat in the living room of Clay Beech, of Cartersville, Oklahoma, and heard him describe the crumpled “copper canoe” which had been taken from the tomb chamber. Beech, the last person living who had been inside the mound chamber after it had been discovered, said that the walls of the boat were the thickness of a “cooking pot.” He said that because it was so crumpled by debris that had fallen on it, the boat was sold for its copper content rather than as a relic.

The presence of Ogam on some of the Burrows’ Cave artifacts should be no surprise to any of us. Verification of the presence of Ogam not only on the Ohio River, but across the entire country, is now too extensive to require repeating here. I will only add that, in my opinion, the Erie, a people almost completely destroyed in the seventeenth century raids, constituted the Celtic element among the subjects of the Kispogogee sun kings and were the source of many of the Ogam inscriptions on the cave artifacts and in the general area.

When you know as much as I do about the contents of this cave and we all know much more then we do now, I believe there will be no doubt about the identity of the people buried there. They will be recognized as Sun Kings!