Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites
Etowah's Wattle & Daub House

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In the spring and summer of 2008, American Indians, Etowah staff and volunteers constructed a wattle and daub house utilizing an original archaeological floor plan of a house that was at Etowah around 1250 to 1325 A.D. It was constructed of upright posts with woven green cane (wattle) between each. Daub made of Georgia red clay was mixed with grass and water and "daubed" to the wattle.

While some of Etowah's structures were round, the majority built during the Indian town's densely populated period were square. When the structure is finished by the end of August, 2008 visitors will be able to look inside this replica and see or imagine things inside this house as it would have appeared 700 years ago. The project was supported and funded by the Georgia Indian Council.

Below are scenes of various stages of the wattle and daub house construction:

wattledaub01   All materials for the wattle & daub house were donated. Saplings were first placed in the ground to form posts. Here Site Trades Craftsman, Buster Garland, chops posts to be erected.

Cartersville resident Corey Lightfoot who is part Cherokee joins posts to the roof rafters with hemp rope.

wattledaub03   The house takes shape. The house is exactly 15 feet square with a hip roof with a smoke hole in the middle. As many as 8 people could sleep inside this structure.
Buster Garland and project supervisor Carl Etheridge tie off rafters to form smoke hole at top.   wattledaub04
wattledaub05   Interpretive Ranger and site volunteers begin first application of green cane, weaving it between the poles as wattle.
Tim Thompson, "shaman" or medicine man of the Muskogee Creek Nation talks to Chattanooga TV station about Muskogee house.   wattledaub06
wattledaub07   House takes shape as wattle is finished and red clay, grass and water mixture is applied.
Archaeology intern, Alexis Wittke, from Kennesaw University, volunteers on house pictured with Carl Etheridge and volunteer Steve Stewart.   wattledaub08
wattledaub09   Emmen Spain of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma (left and Tim Thompson of the Muskogee Creek Nation apply the first layer of clay daub onto the wattle and daub house. Says Thompson "In the past when I visited the Southeast, I didn't see much cultural exposure, but now it is coming along.
Native gama grass was cut from the site and bundled into thatch after drying in the sun.   wattledaub10
wattledaub11   Thatch is sewn into the roof structure with a crude needle and hemp rope.

Archaeology intern Jacquelyn Carrubba bundles thatch before being applied to roof.


Local school teacher volunteer Carmen Gonzalez mixes daub and grass mixture.

Carl Etheridge smoothes daub wall with a burnishing stone.   wattledaub14

Visitors get first glimpse of house during free day on June 14th.

Children get to get down and dirty, assisting in daubing the house on June 14th.   wattledaub16
wattledaub17   Obviously playing in the mud is a fun time for all.
Volunteer Mason Harris daubs the house interior leaving an open area where visitors will get see the posts woven with cane wattle.   wattledaub18

Volunteer Mason Harris, 16, of Cartersville applies daub to a drip slope at the base of the wattle and daub house.

Smoke hole as seen looking upward from the floor of the wattle and daub house. The house will be fully functional with fire pit and amenities such as cane matting, storage pottery, deer skins and food items.   wattledaub20
wattledaub21   Project foreman Carl Etheridge points out features of house to local boy scout director.
A framework for the interior bench takes shape.   wattledaub22
wattledaub23   River cane is woven onto the surface of the bench. Benches were used for sitting as well as sleeping.
Carl Etheridge forms the fire pit out of clay in the center of the house.   wattledaub24
wattledaub25   Boy and girl scout volunteers work in matting which will be used on the benches and floor of the structure. This is a rare and dying art. Scouts were advised by cane mat maker Robin McBride Scott from Cherokee, N.C.
Closer view (top photo) shows how tedious the matt making process is. These resemble an actual matt fragment from the Etowah Indians currently in the site's museum (bottom photo).   wattledaub26

wattledaub27   Worker puts final touches on a clay cover over the smoke hole in the wattle and daub house. Smoke escapes from the sides while keeping rain water out. Archaeological evidence shows something similar to this in some structures at Etowah.
The wattle and daub house was complete in late 2008. The house has become an instant attraction to visitors and especially school children. The interpretive sign in the forefront was funded by the Georgia Council of Indian Concerns.   wattledaub28

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