Talking stones: Cherokee syllabary in Manitou Cave, Alabama

Beau Duke Carroll, Alan Cressler, Tom Belt, Julie Reed, Jan F. Simek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)519-536
Number of pages18
Issue number368
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • General Arts and Humanities


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