Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gunboat Discovery Comes After Years of Sightings, Botched Efforts

Archaeologists Hope To Raise 145-Year-Old Confederate Ship


As South Carolina’s deputy state archaeologist for underwater, USC’s Chris Amer has helped discover, map and excavate more than a few shipwrecks over the years, including the Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley and a slew of other vessels along the East Coast and elsewhere. Now, Amer and his colleagues are in the news again following the recent discovery of a Civil War vessel in the muddy waters of the Pee Dee River.
The Confederate gunboat CSS Pee Dee, which Amer and State Archeologist Jonathan Leader discovered near Marion in November — 18 months after discovering two of the boat’s three enormous cannons at the bottom of the river — was one of 22 similar gunboats built at inland naval yards across the South.

Since discovering the Pee Dee’s cannons, Amer and his colleagues have brought up seven artillery shells and plan to bring up several more. They are also making plans to raise the two cannons they’ve already found — a 9-inch Dahlgren and a 6.4-inch Brooke Rifled Cannon — sometime next summer. If they can find the third gun, also a Brooke cannon, they will raise that as well. All of the artifacts will be housed in the Florence County Museum.

“They’re building a huge new facility there,” Amer says. “There will be a whole exhibition about the Civil War, and specifically about the Mars Bluff Naval Yard and the shipwreck.”

As warships go, the CSS Pee Dee had a fairly humble military career — in fact, it never reached the open sea, as by the time of its completion the Union army had already captured Georgetown. It has nonetheless enjoyed a storied afterlife, marked by sightings, disruptions and attempts to salvage pieces of it for posterity and/or profit.

Launched at Mars Bluff in January of 1865, the 150-foot gunboat participated in exactly one skirmish three months later, about 40 miles upstream, near Cheraw. There, it provided cover for the Confederate troops of General William Hardee as they retreated from the advancing troops of General William T. Sherman. Subsequently, the gunboat was returned to Mars Bluff, where it was torched, possibly blown up and irretrievably sunk by its own crew so it would not be captured.

In the ensuing century-and-a-half, the river level periodically changed and the CSS Pee Dee reappeared several times. Amer says that an ensign in the U.S. Navy spotted the boat shortly after the Civil War, and in 1906 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pushed its wreckage onto a sandbar while dredging the river. Nearly two decades after that, the United Sons of the Confederacy managed to remove the boat’s propellers, which wound up on display at the Florence County Museum.

In 1954, however, much of what remained of the CSS Pee Dee was lost to history after a group of local businessmen also spotted the wreckage. Amer says the men brought in a bulldozer to make a road to the riverside then attempted to drag the boat ashore for display at a roadside attraction called Confederateland.

“Of course, this vessel had been burned and pushed ashore by the Corps of Engineers and possibly blown up, so it wasn’t very integral, and when they tried to pull it up it just broke into pieces,” Amer explains.

“So what they did is grab whatever they could — a 30-foot piece of the stern that was intact, a boiler and the two engines, the propeller shafts, anything else they could put their hands on. Then they put them on display across the highway and charged two bits for people to see them. Over time, things disintegrated, and that was that. I suspect the wood just dried up into powder. It was pretty much the end for those pieces.”

Somehow, the boiler did wind up for a time on display at South of the Border, but like everything else salvaged by the amateur archeologists, that, too, eventually disappeared.

“Who knows what happened to it,” Amer says, “but I suspect that the metal parts got sold for scrap.”

For all the folly, however, the 1954 salvage attempt was not a total bust, as it was witnessed by a 12-year-old boy named Michael Hartley — a boy who would eventually go on to become an archeologist himself. At the time, Hartley drew a sketch map, which he showed to Amer decades later. Amer credits that map with leading him to the site. Now, it’s just a matter of waiting for the river to subside this summer and finding the right contractor to hoist the 9,000-pound cannons from the water.

Of course, recovering the gunboat’s guns does not close the book on this particular excavation. Amer and Leader still want to locate the Mars Bluff Naval Yard, which at one time boasted at least 12 structures, plus a forge, slipways and a dry dock. Amer is certain they’re closing in on the site, even though efforts last summer by archeology students from East Carolina University failed to turn up any evidence.

“The students dug test holes all over the property where we thought [Mars Bluff] was, and they didn’t find one artifact related to the shipyard,” Amer says. “They found lots of Native American artifacts —there was a continuous occupation there for about 4,000 years — but nothing related to the shipyard. But we figure it’s got to be somewhere nearby.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

CALL FOR PAPERS: Archaeology of the Pee Dee Region


Annual Conference on South Carolina Archaeology

Archaeological Society of South Carolina

Schedule of Events:

Friday April 8th

Colloquium: Portable XRF Lecture and Workshop.

Dr. Carolyn Dillian, Coastal Carolina University.
3:30- 5: 00 PM Room 153 Gambrell Hall

Sponsored by USC Department of Anthropology and ASSC

Informal Gathering: Hunter Gatherer South Main Street immediately following

Saturday April 9, 2011

THEME: Archaeology of the Pee Dee Region.

Conference: USC Columbia -Gambrell Hall Room 153 9:00 am -4:00 pm

Session One: General Open Session

Coffee Break

Session Two: Pee Dee River Archaeology

Lunch, Business Meeting, and Award Ceremony

Keynote Address: Fifteen Years of Archaeology at the Johannes Kolb Site. by Chris Judge, Carl Steen and Sean Taylor.

Session Three: Johannes Kolb Site Archaeology.

Send Titles and 100 word Abstracts to Chris Judge at

Room is equipped with computer, data projector, document camera (Elmo), dvd/vcr combo, lectern, and network connection

DEADLINE: FEB. 1, 2011

December 18: Catawba Indian Pottery Sale

Catawba Indian Pottery Sale




Featuring works by established and emerging potters from the Catawba Nation in Rock Hill, SC.

December 18th, 2010

10:00 am until 3:00 pm
Bradley Arts and Sciences Building on the USCL campus

The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Dr. Stephen Criswell,
Director of Native American Studies, at 803-313-7108 or
by email at

Archaeological Field School on Edgefield, SC Pottery Communities

Archaeological Field School on Edgefield, South Carolina Pottery Communities

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Anth. 454-CF and 455-CF (6 credits; 6 weeks), May 23, 2011 to July 1, 2011

This field school will provide training in the techniques of excavation, mapping, controlled surface surveys, artifact classification and contextual interpretation. Students will work in supervised teams, learning to function as members of a field crew, with all of the skills necessary for becoming professional archaeologists. Many students from past University of Illinois field schools have gone on to graduate study and professional field-archaeology positions. Laboratory processing and analysis will be ongoing during the field season. Evening lectures by project staff, visiting archaeologists, and historians will focus on providing background on how field data are used to answer archaeological and historical research questions.

Learn more on our web site.

** Historical Significance and Project Background

The first innovation and development of alkaline-glazed stoneware pottery in America occurred in the Edgefield District of South Carolina in the early 1800s.

It remains an enduring mystery as to how these new ceramic methods were developed in that place and time, and how the techniques of clay choice, temper, and glaze developed over the following century. These potteries employed enslaved and free African-American laborers in the 19th century, and the stoneware forms also show evidence of likely African cultural influence on stylistic designs. Edgefield potteries thus present fascinating research questions of understanding technological innovations and investigating the impacts of African cultural knowledge and racial ideologies on a craft specialization during the historic period in America. This project entails an interdisciplinary, collaborative, and archaeological study of the first development in America of alkaline-glazed stoneware pottery forms, the development of the South Carolina industry over time, and the impacts of racism and African cultural influences on those processes.

The technological innovation of alkaline-glazed stoneware pottery was introduced in North America by potteries operated by Abner and John Landrum in the Edgefield, South Carolina area in the first decades of the 19th century. These technological developments by entrepreneurs of Scots-Irish heritage played out in a landscape shaped by racial difference. Numerous African-American laborers, including "Dave the Potter" who added inscriptions to his vessels, worked at these production sites.

Advertisements in local newspapers in the early decades of the 1800s listed enslaved laborers with skills in pottery production. African
Americans most likely participated in all phases of the production process, such as: building and maintaining the kilns; digging and transporting clay; working and grinding raw clay in "pug" mills; chopping wood for fuel; preparing glaze mixtures, tempers, and clay pastes; turning the pottery wheels and shaping the vessels; and loading and unloading the kiln firings.

As local historians Holcombe and Holcombe (1989: 22) observed, the "District's ceramic entrepreneurs would never have been able to manufacture such large quantities of Edgefield wares without the slave participation." Indeed, in the period of 1800-1820, the recorded number of enslaved African Americans in the surrounding area had increased to comprise half of the Edgefield District's population. An illegal transport of enslaved laborers on the ship Wanderer delivered 170 newly-captive Africans to the Edgefield District in 1858. The production of remarkably shaped "face vessels" at local potteries have also been analyzed as presenting evidence of the influence of stylistic traditions from cultures of West Central Africa.

This project seeks to undertake detailed archaeological investigations of principal sites in Edgefield, conduct archival research, and start a multi-year community engagement and education program related to these subjects.

Archaeological field schools and research teams at such pottery sites can explore both the production facility remains and the residential sectors for the enslaved and free African-American laborers. Primary research questions include:

(1) examining the distribution of work areas and residential locations in each pottery site and analyze the degree of spatial segregation due to the impacts of slavery and racism;

(2) understanding differential uses and development of those work and residential spaces, as reflected in archaeological features and artifact distributions, and the degree to which variations correlate with different racial categories associated with the occupants;

(3) analyzing faunal and botanical remains to explore and contrast dietary and health patterns between residential sites and the degree to which variations correlate with different racial categories associated with the occupants; and

(4) understanding the development and changes over time in the technologies of pottery production at these three manufacturing sites.

** Field School Overview

This six-week archaeological field school will focus on the site of Pottersville, where Abner Landrum started the first stoneware production
facility in the Edgefield district in the early 1800s. We will excavate the kiln and related production areas and conduct surveys to locate the house sites of the craftspeople and laborers who created the Pottersville village surrounding that manufacturing facility. Instructors will include Prof. Fennell, U. Illinois doctoral student George Calfas, and archaeologist Carl Steen of Diachronic Research Inc., among others. The instructors and students will stay in local housing in the Edgefield area during this six week field school, and visit nearby archaeology sites and museums on weekend trips.

For additional information about this field school opportunity, please contact Chris Fennell by email at, by cell phone at 312-513-2683, or check his faculty web page for background information on the multi-year archaeology project in Edgefield, South Carolina. You can also contact George Calfas at

To apply for participation in this fieldschool, please download and complete a short application form and submit it to Chris Fennell by March 25, 2011. Students will be notified of acceptance no later than April 8, 2011. Accepted students should register for the related course numbers (listed above) for the summer session. Please note that all students must register for both courses (a total of 6 credit hours).

Students from colleges other than the University of Illinois can register through our exchange program and receive transfer credits.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

MONDAY: SCV meeting discusses Robert E. Lee

The next Sons of Confederate Veterans meeting will be held Monday, December 6th, at the Harmony Masonic Lodge located at 2710 Depot Road in Beaufort, starting promptly at 7:00 pm. Guest speaker will be Michael Givens, Beaufort resident and recently elected Commander-in-Chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He will be discussing "Robert E. Lee, Master of War, Servant of the Lord"

The group will also be electing Camp Officers For 2011.

Please remember, all meeting dates, and planned speakers can be seen on the SCV web site.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Post-Doctoral Fellows Archaeology Conference in April 2011

Post-Doctoral Fellows Archaeology Conference in April 2011
Moving the Middle to the Forefront: Re-Visiting the Second Epidemiological Transition

The South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Department of Anthropology at the University of South Carolina will hold their third annual Post-Doctoral Fellows Archaeology Conference in April 2011.

Moving the Middle to the Forefront: Re-Visiting the Second Epidemiological Transition is a two-day conference to be held at the Inn at USC in Columbia on April 18th -19th. The central theme of this year’s conference focuses on addressing the causes and consequences of the second transition through an interdisciplinary integration of skeletal, archaeological, biochemical and historical evidence.

For addition information, please contact:
Molly Zuckerman, Ph.D.
South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology
University of South Carolina
1321 Pendleton St.
Columbia SC 29201

Phone: 803-576-6572
Fax: 803-254-1338

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Starting Today! Digging the Past Through Archaeology

Digging the Past Through Archaeology

Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site
Archaeologists discover “new” things everyday at the site of the colonial town of Dorchester, now Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site. The often untold stories of daily life take shape through the efforts of archaeologists as they uncover, clean, analyze and care for the clues left behind of life in a frontier village and trading town. If you have ever thought “it would be neat to work with an archaeologist,” this is your opportunity. Experience first-hand the excitement of discovery, help curate artifacts in the laboratory, and spend the day with us. This program offers insight into the roll of an Archaeologist while promoting proper ethical involvement in the protection and preservation of South Carolina’s historical resources.

Ranger Demonstration: Yes
Registration Deadline: 1 week prior to the program
Meeting Place: Ranger Station
What to Bring: Wear closed-toe shoes. Bring insect repellent, your lunch and water.

Event Hours: 10am-4pm

Fee: $25/participant

October 23, 2010, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
November 20, 2010, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
December 11, 2010, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

South Carolina Archaeology Education Manual

Check out South Carolina Archaeology Public Outreach Division (SCAPOD) draft of the South Carolina Archaeology Education Manual for 3rd graders.

October 26: Archaeology of the Gullah People

"Archaeology of the Gullah People”
with Carl Steen and Dr. Jodi Barnes
Tues., Oct. 26th
5:30 pm—6:30 pm
Council Chambers, 100 Ribaut Road

The African American citizens of the Sea Islands and tidally influenced areas of the coast from Northern Florida to Southern North Carolina developed a distinctive dialect and culture and became known as the Gullah people. Few of them could read or write, and almost none left a written record of their lives. But like all humans they left material evidence of their time here. Therefore archaeology is one of the few avenues we have into documenting their lives.

Steen and Barnes will discuss the role of archaeology, and cite some examples of archaeology at Gullah sites in South Carolina, including the Penn Center site for the proposed new St. Helena Branch Library.

Please join us for this "Archaeology Month" program on Tues., Oct. 26th beginning at 5:30 pm.

"Archaeology Month 2010" is brought to you by Beaufort County Library, Beaufort County GIS, and Beaufort County Planning. The presentation is free and open to the public. Anyone older than 12 with an interest in archaeology and local history is welcomed to attend. Details:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Archaeology on Palmetto Bluff

Archaeology on Palmetto Bluff

BDC @ The Branches celebrates Archaeology Month in Bluffton Branch on Tues., Oct. 19th.

Join our guest speaker Dr. Mary Socci, the resident archaeologist at Palmetto Bluff. Learn about the earliest known octagonal structure in North America. As this is a lunchtime program, we encourage you to bring a bagged lunch! Everyone is welcome to attend, no registration necessary.

Mary Socci, Ph.D.
"18th Century Science and Architecture at a Lowcountry Plantation"
Tuesday, October 19th at 12 Noon
Bluffton Branch Library
Large Meeting Room

We hope you can attend this "Archaeology Month" program on Tues., Oct. 19th beginning at high noon.

"Archaeology Month 2010" is brought to you by Beaufort County Library, Beaufort County GIS, and Beaufort County Planning.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

County Proclaims October "Archaeology Month"

County Proclaims October "Archaeology Month"

Representing Archaeology Month Team 2010, I accepted the Beaufort County Council's proclamation that October is "Archaeology Month" yesterday. Unfortunately, neither Ian Hill nor Ian deNeeve were able to attend.

Archaeology Month 2010 is always a collaborative venture. This year we were very fortunate to have Beaufort County GIS employee Ian deNeeve on our team. Ian deNeeve created the GIS mapping poster going on display in each Branch of the Beaufort County Library (just as soon as the courier can deliver them) as well as a self-guided map of tabby sites in downtown Beaufort that is available through the Library’s website.
A gentle reminder: We have two presentations coming up. Mary Socci, Palmetto Bluff’s resident archaeologist will be in Bluffton Branch Library on Oct. 19th to talk about how historical documents and archaeological sciences and new technologies have facilitated her work inside Palmetto Bluff. On Oct. 26th, Carl Steen and Dr. Jodi Barnes will be here in Council Chambers to discuss the special documentary and technological challenges of uncovering “Gullah archaeology.” Each presentation is free and open to the public.
In addition to finding the program schedule on the Library’s website, we have an "Archaeology Month" button on the County’s new website.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dean Hall: Historical Archaeology at a Nineteenth Century Cooper River Rice Plantation

Dean Hall: Historical Archaeology at a Nineteenth Century Cooper River Rice Plantation
Sponsored by Carolina Lowcountry & Atlantic World Program at the College of Charleston

Thursday, October 14, 2010 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm

Johnson Center, Room 206
28 George Street
Charleston, SC 29424
United States

Members of Brockington and Associates, a cultural resource management company in Mt. Pleasant, will be giving a public lecture on recent work at Dean Hall Plantation in Berkeley County, South Carolina. Charles Philips, Jr., senior historian, will present the history of Dean Hall Plantation. Andrew Agha, senior archaeologist, will discuss the recent excavations, which uncovered over 125,000 artifacts, including 59,000 Colonoware sherds. Nicole Isenbarger, lab supervisor, will discuss the significance of the found artifacts and Colonoware. Analysis of these sherds has helped shed light on the folkways of the enslaved people at Dean Hall plantation. This event is co-sponsored by the Addlestone Friends of the Library.


Lisa B Randle

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October is Archaeology Month!

by Jodi Barnes, Editor SC Antiquities and State Historic Preservation Office Archaeologist

October is archaeology month! South Carolina has been celebrating the archaeology and history of the state for 21 years. The annual celebration is put together by the Archaeological Society of South Carolina (ASSC)., local museums and historical associations, state agencies, such as the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology (SCIAA), and state parks, such as Charles Town Landing State Historic Site or Kings Mountain State Park as well as local governments.

Archaeology month events and programs have been developed by dedicated professionals, avocationalists, and organizations in order to bring our state’s prehistoric and historic past to life for all ages. Through such public outreach efforts, the archaeological community hopes to build regional and local public support for the preservation of our Native American, African, and European heritage.

By sponsoring an annual event like SC Archaeology Month, the archaeological community of South Carolina wants to: 1) Stimulate pride in our state’s archaeological heritage; 2) Increase understanding of why archaeological research is important; 3) Heighten awareness of how many archaeological resources are lost each year in South Carolina; 4) Educate people about what they can do to help protect and study the state’s archaeological resources; and 5) Get more people involved in archaeological activities and discourage the practice of pot-hunting and unsupervised digs.

Each year, archaeology month has a theme and a poster. This year’s theme is archaeology and technology. Archaeology is often thought of as digging. Yet archaeologists use a variety of technology in order to learn about the past. Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR), ethnobotany, Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Petrographic Analysis and the sourcing of raw materials are just a few of the tools archaeologists use.

Another aspect of technology in archaeology is experimental archaeology or the study that attempts to replicate past processes to understand how the archaeological materials came about. Experimental archaeology can include flint knapping, pottery production or atlatl studies, past farming techniques, or the construction of ships and buildings. Archaeology month provides a number of opportunities to see first hand how archaeologists engage with technology to understand the past.

Events include lectures, reenactments, tours of historic sites, excavations, museum exhibits, and workshops. During archaeology month, you can learn about gravestone motifs and the movement to protect, preserve, and document cemetery history, primitive technology and experimental archaeology, or how to make a pine needle basket.

The main event, Archaeology Field Day: “Piecing Together the Past with Archaeology”, is hosted by the Archaeological Society of South Carolina (ASSC). This year Fall Field Day will be held between 10am and 4pm on October 9 at Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site in Charleston. Charles Towne Landing is the site of the first permanent settlement of the Carolina Colony. The park features an animal forest, hiking trails, a museum, an experimental garden, and living history.

Building upon the theme of "Archaeology and Technology", there will be array of demonstrations, exhibits, hands-on activities, and lectures that span the prehistoric and historic occupations of South Carolina. Lectures and exhibits will focus on archaeological work on Carolina Bays and Stone Quarries, Petrographic Analysis of Stone from the Great Pee Dee River, the use of Ground Penetrating Radar in archaeology, and the artifacts from the Hunley.

Meet archaeologists from Charles Towne Landing and around the state while you tour dig sites where Native American and colonial finds have been unearthed. Try your own archaeology skills in hands-on programs and learn how flint was used as a weapon, tool, and fire starter. Hear archaeologists and preservation specialists talk about their current research on topics such as plantation life in the French Caribbean, Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper at St. Giles Kussoe House, Hampton Plantation State Historic Site, the archaeology of Gullah people and South Carolina's 'Separate but Equal' Schools.

Join us to discover the science of archaeology and the history revealed below the surface. Discover how archaeologists see beyond written records and learn about past cultures based on artifacts left behind.

ASSC is an association of professional and avocational archaeologists and concerned citizens uniting together in a cooperative effort to understand the prehistory and history of South Carolina. It is a Society of dedicated members exerting their combined efforts toward the interpretation and preservation of South Carolina's rich cultural heritage. The Society is assisted and supported by the Office of State Archaeology, South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of South Carolina, and also works closely with the Council of South Carolina Professional Archaeologists. For more information about ASSC or to become a member (

For information about archaeology month, check out the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology ( or the South Carolina Department of Archives and History ( websites. For more information on Field Day go to

Thursday, September 16, 2010

TOMORROW: "Exploring the Archaeology of Lake Marion" at Elloree Museum

From the Times and Democrat

Busy fall on tap at Elloree museum

ELLOREE - Three special events are scheduled at the Elloree Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in September and October.

On Friday, Sept. 17, Dr. Robert C. Costello of the University of South Carolina-Sumter will conduct a lecture on "Exploring the Archaeology of Lake Marion."

The presentation, set for 7 p.m., will highlight photographs and discuss archaeological artifacts of Lake Marion as well as its flora, fauna and shoreline landscape.

Illustrations will include projectile points - from 13,000-year-old Clovis to more recent lithic tools, pot shreds from ancient fiber-tempered to colonial-era North Devon gravel-tempered ware, cypresses in barrier beach ponds, birds and alligators.

It is hoped those who attend will leave with an enhanced appreciation both for the beauty and the historic significance of Lake Marion, and with the conviction that Hickory Top Wildlife Management Area, the principal location of these studies, is a priceless resource that should remain forever immune from commercial development.

Those in attendance are welcome to bring their own archaeological finds to show the speaker and his research collaborator, Kenn Steffy, following the formal presentation.

There is no charge for the lecture, but seating is limited. Call 803-897-2225 or e-mail to make reservations.

You can read the rest of this Times and Democrat article here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

TOMORROW! Beaufort County Historical Society-Meeting Sept. 16th

Beaufort County Historical Society-Meeting Sept. 16th

The Beaufort County Historical Society will present Parris Island Museum’s Dave Smoot Sept. 16th at noon at the Beaufort Yacht & Sailing Club 30 Yacht Club Drive. Smoot will discuss military medical practices during the Civil War.

An optional light lunch catered by Debi Covington will be served at 11:30 for $10. RSVP, please to Nancy Gilley 843·524·7969

Directions: The Beaufort Yacht & Sailing Club is across the Swing Bridge from Carteret onto Lady’s Island, turn right on Meridian Road ,second right after the bridge. In less than 2 miles, turn right onto Yacht Club Drive.

Upcoming Events:

Nov. 11th --Speaker Kristina Dunn Johnson to discuss the history of the Beaufort US National Cemetery

Dec. 3th – Night on the Town-Downtown Beaufort

Dec. 4th --The 2nd Annual Beaufort County Historical Society Tour of Historic Churches, this year to include holiday entertainment and optional lunch.

The Beaufort County Historical Society is the oldest association in Beaufort County dedicated to the study and preservation of history. A member based organization, the society was established in 1939.

For further information contact: Pamela Ovens-President or call 843-785-2767

ASSC/Hilton Head Chapter Fall Speakers Series kicks off Tuesday

Archaeology Society of SC/Hilton Head Chapter Fall Speakers Series Kicks Off Tuesday, September 21

The Archaeology Society of SC/Hilton Head Chapter is pleased to announce that Carl Steen will kick off the Fall speaker series this Tuesday, Sept. 21st, at Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn on Hilton Head, SC at 7 pm. The public is always invited and welcome to attend our Chapter meetings.

Steen's talk will highlight his archaeological exploration at Penn Center, including both American Indian and historic African American (Gullah) recoveries. A native of Charleston, SC, Steen attended College of Charleston, received his BA from USC, and his MA from William and Mary. he began workng as an archaeologist in 1981, and founded Diachronic Research Foundation, a non-profit corporation, in 1991.

Some of Steen’s major projects have included excavations at the John de la Howe site in McCormick County; a survey of pottery kiln sites in the old Edgefield District (modern Aiken, Edgefield and Greenwood counties); excavations at Fort Bragg, concentrating on sites occupied by descendants of the early Scot settlers there; and excavations at Fort Johnson, on James Island, where he examined a variety of occupations including a freedmen's settlement and several military-related occupations.

Upcoming events:

Oct. 20th- Charlie Cobb discussing the campaigns at Palachacolas Town on the Savannah River near Garnett, SC. This will be Wednesday, Oct 20 at 1:00 PM

Nov 16th-- Dan Elliott discussing the Yuchis of Mt Pleasant, SC

For further information: George Stubbs- 843-363-5058

Friday, September 10, 2010

Legendary guitarist and passionate historian passes

Michael C. Taylor

Legendary guitarist and passionate historian, archaeologist and preservationist, Michael Curtis Taylor, 62, of Hilton Head passed away on Sunday, September 5 at Hilton Head Regional Medical Center.

Taylor was born on July 21, 1948, to Katie Steed and George F. Taylor in Fayetteville, N.C. While a teenager, he taught himself to play the acoustic guitar. His mastery of the instrument put him in demand in the 1960s as a lead guitarist for a variety of folk singers in both Fayetteville and New York City, playing for such legends as Joni Mitchell.

In 1969, he joined an up-and-coming singer named John Denver and with Denver wrote such hits as Sunshine on My Shoulders and Rocky Mountain High. His guitar technique in songs such as The Season Suite and The Eagle and The Hawk often led to his being considered the best guitarist in the country. While playing with Denver, he married Mary Kay Kolacz of Washington, N.C., on July 25, 1970.

Taylor, seeking to escape winter in Aspen, Colorado, came to Hilton Head in January of 1973 at the suggestion of a friend to spend the season. As a boy he had always loved collecting arrowheads and other artifacts with his father, and found the relatively undeveloped Hilton Head and Daufuskie Islands fertile fields for exploring and piecing together the history of the islands. His passion for educating others about the complex relationship between man and his environment, and assuring that historical sites were secured soon surpassed his love of the stage, and Taylor put down roots on Hilton Head and began studies at the University of South Carolina in Columbia in archaeology and anthropology. As with the guitar, Taylor completely immersed himself in the subjects and became a Research Fellow at the Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology at USC.

In 1985, Taylor and a group of islanders began an effort to create The Museum of Hilton Head Island (now Coastal Discovery) and Taylor became the first director in 1988. Under his leadership, beach, nature and history walks and lectures began, archaeological projects were undertaken at Fish Haul Creek & Mitchelville (site of the first freedman's village), the museum took over management of the pre-historic Green's Shell enclosure, and a bird hospital and Project Turtle Watch operated under the museum's umbrella.

Taylor later was the co-founder of the Southeastern Ecological Institute and was that organization's Executive Director. He wrote and narrated "Mike Taylor's History of Hilton Head Island," an audio-cassette feature in Southern Living Magazine as well as a video series Hilton Head Island - A Television History which aired on the History Channel. In addition, he collaborated and contributed in 1993 on a limited edition book The Forgotten History: A Photographic Essay on Civil War Hilton Head Island.

In 2002, Taylor was named Executive Director of the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust. Among the many accomplishments during his tenure was the preservation of Battery White, a Civil War Confederate fortification near Georgetown; the confirmation and preservation of Fort Pemberton, a Confederate site on James Island; and he was currently involved in preservation and interpretive signs at Battery Brayton, a Union Fort near Beaufort. Over the past several years, Taylor consulted with filmmaker Mike Kirk on several documentaries including The Trumpet at the Walls of Jericho about a slave who obtained freedom and became the chaplain of the African-American 54th regiment during the Civil War. He just completed work as co-writer and associate producer for America's "Iliad: The Siege of Charleston," a 2-hour film about Charleston during the Civil War which is set to air nationally on PBS stations in April of 2011.

In addition to his wife, Mary Kay, Taylor is survived by his sister Janet Taylor Knight (David), of Washington, N.C., and a brother, George Taylor, of Chapel Hill, N.C. A Celebration of Life will be held at the The Island Funeral Home and Crematory, 4 Cardinal Road, on Friday, September 10 at 6:00 p.m. In honor of the many ways Mike sought to help others, memorial contributions may be made to The Deep Well Project, P.O. Box 5543, Hilton Head, SC 29938 or to the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust, P.O. Box 21781, Hilton Head, SC 29925 The Island Funeral Home and Crematory is in charge of arrangements.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Coastal Carolina University Dig Unearths Shipbuilding History

Coastal Carolina University Dig Unearths Shipbuilding History
Boat fire marked end of an era
By Steve Jones -

CONWAY -- Work at Government Shipyard of Conwayborough stopped when the steam-driven vessel Maggie burned up at a dock on the Waccamaw River during an early May night in 1897.

The ship fire, which started around midnight, spread to some of the nearby warehouses as well as the shipyard. Reports from the time record the end of the Maggie, a Waccamaw Line ship that hauled cargo and passengers. Archaeologists at Coastal Carolina University can tell it was the end of the shipyard because the layering of the soil at a site near Kingston Presbyterian Church showed only fill material and then parking lot material above the layer of charred soil.

"We see this all over the world," said Cheryl Ward, director of the Center for Archaeology and Anthropology at CCU.

After evidence of a fire is found at an archaeological site anywhere on the globe, there typically is evidence in the soil layer above the charred layer that the destruction has been cleaned up and those using it have converted its use to something different.

Ward's hiring by the university last year and the subsequent hiring of two more archaeologists will open up a field of study for students and give the area a new resource for readily and literally digging into its past.

Ward, for instance, said she has been asked to join the board of the Horry County Museum and is planning a dig on the grounds of the Burroughs School, where the museum is relocating.

Ben Burroughs, president of the Horry County Historical Society, said the things Ward and the other archaeologists uncover could alter historical misimpressions and give more detail to the county's history.

"Horry County history has not been thoroughly researched, in my opinion," said Burroughs.

He said CCU hired an earlier archaeologist around 1990 who uncovered the site of Richmond Hill Plantation in the Wachesaw area of Horry County. Historical evidence of the plantation existed, but the archaeological dig gave proof of the size of the plantation house and the life its owners lived.

Ward also does maritime archaeology and speaks with pride of the reconstruction of an Egyptian vessel discovered at a site she has worked in Egypt for decades. The Waccamaw, she said, contains what's left of any number of vessels that sank in the county's early English history.

She and the other archaeologists at CCU were lured there from other universities by the opportunity to create an archaeology program from the ground up. They are writing the documents that will allow archaeology to be a program minor at the school. Eventually, it will evolve into a major study program of its own and then undertake a graduate program.

One of the things that excites Ward about starting the CCU program is that she will be able to involve undergraduates in the investigation that is archaeology.

The hole that opened up near the Conway waterfront in June was dug by crews who were burying utility lines, Ward said.

"We realized it was a phenomenal opportunity," Ward said.

Not only was it a small trench into the city's past, but it came at a time that it could be incorporated into her program's archaeological field school. Students at the time participated in the recovery of artifacts and will help in their specific identification as part of this year's classwork.

The hoped-for dig at Burroughs School will show students and others that the artifacts found underground are often a piece of a puzzle, the full picture of which doesn't come without researching historical records and the memories of those with direct experience of things found underground.

In the pit near Kingston Presbyterian, which measured between 12 feet and 20 feet wide by about 12 feet deep, there was enough resin to immediately determine that the site was likely used for shipbuilding. The resin came from the sap of pine trees, which yielded materials such as tar, pitch and turpentine, essential to keep commercial, wooden ships afloat.

The site also yielded things such as metal hoops used on wooden barrels, factory and handmade nails and other items that would further substantiate the industrial use of the area.

Additionally, two dime-size pieces of pottery were found. The patterns on them will lead to dating when and where they were made as well as how they might have been used.

The artifacts from that dig were already above ground when CCU's archaeologists and students got to the site. The crews who dug them up recognized there could be historical value in them and called the school.

"All over the surface were huge lumps of things from naval stores and bits of pottery from the 18th century. The deepest level of the hole was dated to about 1820.

It wasn't the ideal situation for an archaeologist, who wants to be the first one to disturb a site for study. But it helped to reinforce Ward's conviction that she made the right decision to relocate to Conway.

It showed her that people there are tuned into history as something important and are willing to act on it, she said.

"I've never been in a place," Ward said, "where you can call up on Wednesday and, by Friday, everybody says 'yes.'"

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Experts call discovery a 'most unusual find'

David Bertrand of Georgetown didn’t know what he had found when he discovered a rock-like object in the dirt near his home. Archaeologists are puzzled over the object, but say it could have been used by early Native Americans.

Georgetown, S.C. — David Bertrand, a volunteer at the Georgetown County Museum, was planting jasmine in his garden when his shovel hit what he thought was a rock.

He put the object aside, wondering why a rock would be in the shallow soil near his driveway.

The object, after he washed away the mud, appeared to have a tiny, human face.

There are crosshatch marks on the object, which appear to have been made with a thin, sharp edged object.

“I only went down about six inches, and when I turned the dirt over, I saw this thing that looked like a rock in the dirt,” Bertrand said. “I continued with the rest of the jasmine and went back to it. I wanted to find out what kind of rock it was. It wasn’t a rock.”

On Tuesday, archaeologists speculated that it could be anything from a net weight to a rare “boat stone,” which some say they have never encountered in Georgetown County.

The object could date back to the earliest settlements of Native Americans in Georgetown County.

A boat stone, according to archaeology Web sites, is a weight attached to a throwing stick. The weight improves the distance the stick can be thrown and improves the accuracy.

Rare find

The search for the true nature of the object has taken Bertrand, a history buff, to archaeologists in Charleston and Mount Pleasant.

Many other archaeologists also weighed in Tuesday on the question of what the object could be.

“I've been in archaeology in South Carolina for nearly 30 years and have never seen one before, if that means anything,’’ said researcher Carl Steen.

The object has a hole in the top and bottom and appears to fit on a necklace, stick or a fishing net.

It is about the size of an egg and has a hollowed out back.

It appears to be made of unglazed clay, Bertrand said.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,’’ said Ron Anthony, an archaeologist at the Charleston County Museum. “I don’t know what to tell you. Usually when we get something really odd like this, I suspect it’s something genuine. In all the publications, I haven’t seen anything like this.”

He said it closely resembles artifacts that come from the Deptford period, but he isn’t sure.

According to Internet sources, the Deptford culture was from 2500 BCE to 100 BCE.

“It was characterized by the appearance of elaborate ceremonial complexes, increasing social and political complexity, mound burial, permanent settlements, population growth, and an increasing reliance on cultigens.”

Steen said the piece appears to be Native American in origin.

“It’s a pretty curious object,’’ he said. “I would say it’s an important find because of how interesting it is. It will stimulate conversation, if nothing else.”

Bertrand said he has been told by some experts that the object could be about 3,000 years old.

“We didn’t know anything about it and we still don’t,’’ said Martha Zierden, curator of the Charleston County Museum.

“It wasn’t anything we recognized. From time to time, people bring us odd things we don’t have an answer for.”

For now, the piece is housed at the Georgetown County Museum, along with other Native American objects.

Bertrand hopes one day he can find out more about the object and make a display featuring the piece at the museum.

Visitors to the museum are surprised at the appearance of the strange object.

Bertrand said, so far, he hasn’t found any other unusual pieces in his yard.

He doesn’t know if his house rests on other unique historical objects.

“People are astounded that it was found in the area,” he said.

By Kelly Marshall Fuller

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Waccamaw Chapter of Archaeological Society of South Carolina: Field Excursion

Waccamaw Chapter of Archaeological Society of South Carolina: Field Excursion

Hot off the planning table—we are having a field excursion on Friday and Saturday August 20 and 21. Chapter members have a special opportunity to participate as full team members in the investigation of a small historic residence at the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center property. The Refuge is located just south of the Georgetown county line on Hwy 701, and we will be opening excavation units at the wooded site and also working in the laboratory during the day.

Chapter members will begin at 8.30 am and we hope you’ll be able to stay until 3 pm. Lunch is on us, and you may also camp with the core crew from Coastal Carolina University’s Center for Archaeology and Anthropology on Friday evening and get an early start at setting things up plus enjoying good camp cooking. For more information on camping, please contact me at

Everyone is welcome to observe the activities, and the Refuge is planning more fun from kayaking to birdwatching for the day (please see the attached flyer, and share it), but only full chapter members may participate in excavation and recording finds.

If you would like to join us, please send me an email with your contact information, your member status (paid or will pay at the site), and whether you will camp with us. We need to hear from you by Thursday the 19th at noon, please!

Please share this with friends and others who might be interested in visiting the refuge or joining us at the dig.

With best wishes for this first week of school across the state and all levels,

Friday, August 13, 2010

Archaeology Field Day - Save The Date!

Archaeology Field Day is just around the corner, and we hope you will make plans now to join us on October 9 from 10 to 4 at Charles Town Landing!

This year's theme is the Science of Archaeology, and the event has the makings of the best Field Day ever, and you won't want to miss it!
In addition to the exhibits you have come to know and love, Charleston Museum will be holding their annual fall archaeology event with us this year. And the park itself has archaeologists and will be giving site and lab tours. The park also has an American Indian ceremonial center, original settlement, plantation complex, the trading ship Adventure, African American cemetery, indentured servants house, animal forest and more.

Camping is allowed at Charles Town Landing, but campsites must be broken down by the time the park opens at 9 am. Watch this space for local hotel information for non-camping out of towners.

We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Beaufort District Collection Connection Plans for Archaeology Month

Found this over at Beaufort District Collection Connection:

Progress Report on Archaeology Month Programs

Under normal circumstances, October is a very busy time for the BDC. But October 2010 is extra busy. (There's that matter of opening a new Research Room and all attendent orientations and tours pursuant therefrom to consider, you know.) Ian Hill (Beaufort County's Historic Preservationist and the Library's stalwart partner in Archaeology Month programming) and I are scaling back a little for 2010.

As a refresher, the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology (SCIAA) organizes an annual celebration of our state's archaeology and archaeological sites. Ian Hill and I began offering a formal series of Archaeology Month programs in 2004.

The goals of Archaeology Month are to:

1) stimulate public pride in our state’s archaeological heritage,

2) increase public understanding of why archaeological research is important,

3) heighten public awareness of how many archaeological resources are lost each year in South Carolina,

4) educate the public about what they can do to help protect and study the state’s archaeological resources, and

5) get more people involved in legitimate archaeological activities.

We are very fortunate to have fellow Beaufort County employee, Ian deNeeve, on our AM Team 2010. Ian deNeeve, an archaeologist who works with Beaufort County's Geographic Information Systems department, is using his considerable skills with technology to supplement Ian H.'s and my more traditional approach of lectures and demonstrations. Given that the 2010 theme for Archaeology Month is "Archaeological Science," we are happy indeed to have Ian deNeeve on our team!

Please start making notes on your calendars. Here is the outline of what AM Team 2010 has planned to celebrate Archaeology Month this year:

Ian Hill has arranged for Archaeologist Carl Steen of Diachronic Research Foundation to come to County Council Chambers on Tues., October 26th at 5:30pm to share his deep knowledge of "Gullah Archaeology."

Ian d.'s skills are already apparent in the self-guided tour map of tabby structures that he created which I've posted as a component of the Library's Local History and Nature page "Tabby: Concrete of the Lowcountry" authored by Dennis Adams.

Mary Socci, Palmetto Bluff's resident archaeologist, will speak on "18th Century Science and Architecture at a Lowcountry Plantation" TBD.

Ian d. is also working on a multi-poster exhibit highlighting how Beaufort County uses archaeological science to interpret its own archaeological sites and resources. Beaufort County Library system will display the posters throughout the county during October.

As you can see, without Ian d., Ian H. and I would have a considerably abbreviated program schedule for 2010. Schedules and activities to celebrate Archaeology Month 2010 will announced as they are finalized.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Digging into time with 'Archaeology at Colonial Brunswick'

Digging into time with 'Archaeology at Colonial Brunswick'"

By Ben Steelman

Published: Saturday, August 7, 2010 at 3:30 a.m.

From 1958 to 1968, Stanley A. South was an archaeologist at the Brunswick Town State Historic Site in Brunswick County, uncovering most of the artifacts that can now be seen at the visitors' center.

He would move on to a distinguished career at the University of South Carolina, virtually inventing the field of historical archaeology – unearthing sites for which we have written records, rather than, say, prehistoric remains – in the United States.

In many ways, however, South never left Brunswick Town behind. Now, after many years, his old employer, the state Office of Archives and History, has published South's account of his busy, fruitful decade on the west bank of the Cape Fear River.

In “Archaeology at Colonial Brunswick,” South updates and expands an unpublished account he wrote back in 1961 with the benefits of a half-century of hindsight.

He carefully credits the late E. Lawrence Lee Jr., the Wilmington native and longtime history professor at The Citadel in Charleston. In the early 1950s, Lee agitated with state officials to have the Brunswick Town site preserved at a time when it was threatened by encroachment from the adjoining Sunny Point military terminal then under construction.

During a series of summers, Lee saw to it that decades of undergrowth were mowed from parts of the site, identifying ruins where they peeked from the soil. He also did the library spadework, combing colonial records for clues to Brunswick Town's appearance.

Armed with Lee's homework, and his approximate reconstruction of the town's original plan, South grabbed the ball and ran. Surveying the site, he quickly lined up lots with Lee's maps, identifying historic local buildings (including Brunswick County's original courthouse) and starting to dig.

With just a few named streets and slightly more than 100 known structures, Brunswick Town was never very big. In 1769, when it was fast losing ground to Wilmington up the river, its population was only about 250. In its heyday, it was not much bigger.

“The town is very poor – a few scattered houses on the edge of the woods, without streets or regularity,” wrote Janet Schaw, a Scottish visitor, in 1775, just as the Revolution was breaking out.

Less than a year later, a British raiding party would burn Brunswick, effectively killing the settlement barely a half-century after its founding in 1725. South would find traces of inhabitants trailing into the 1800s – some U.S. coins, some U.S. Army buttons – but by 1830, Brunswick had all but vanished.

While it lasted, though, Brunswick was important out of all proportion to its size. For a while, it was the center of the British empire's trade in naval stores – tar and pitch from the pine forests, essential ingredients for a navy and merchant marine built of wood.

As South demonstrated, it was also the nexus of a global economy. Almost every house excavated at Brunswick contained porcelain from China. At the “Public House,” South and his assistants found a Malay pocket knife with Arabic lettering, possibly brought to the port by a sailor from the British East India Company.

South's account gives a neat summary of Brunswick's brief history, including the Spanish privateer raid of 1748 (which supposedly yielded the famous “Ecco Homo” painting, now at St. James Episcopal Church in Wilmington), the hurricane of 1769 which blew down the courthouse and nearly wiped out the town and the erection of the Confederate Fort Anderson on the site during the Civil War.

He also gives a non-archaeological taste of the town's raucous lifestyle. Cornelius Harnett Jr., the father of the Patriot leader, who bought Brunswick Town's first lots, headed to the Lower Cape Fear ahead of the law – accused of helping his friend, ex-Gov. George Burrington, assault the new governor, Richard Everard.

Then there was the “extraordinary” 1765 duel between Royal Navy officers Alex Simpson and Thomas Whitehurst of the HMS Viper, which ended with Simpson beating his foe to death with his pistol butt. (He later surrendered to local authorities, was tried and sentenced to have the letter “M,” for manslaughter, branded on his left thumb.)

South's patient, non-technical account makes archaeological fieldwork seem enthralling, even without any Indiana Jones exploits. Moreover, his contention that much of Brunswick Town has yet to be properly explored ought to spur some new research.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


The Arkansas Archeological Society will be celebrating its 50th anniversary at its Annual Meeting, to be held in Hot Springs, Arkansas, September 24-26. In addition to the the usual presentation of papers on Saturday, many of which will focus on historical themes, there also will be a number of special activities at this year's meeting. At the Friday night reception will be a showing of the 1972 film Preserving the Past for the Future, as well as a DVD of 50 Years of the Society in Photos. The keynote speaker, following Saturday's banquet dinner, will be Dr. Brian Fagan, who will discuss the art of storytelling about the past. Sunday tours include visits to a novaculite whetstone company and a historic estate in Hot Springs. Additional information about the meeting can be found on the Arkansas Archeological Society web site at, or by calling 479-575-3557.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Scientists to rotate historic Confederate submarine for first time since it sank off SC coast

Scientists to rotate historic Confederate submarine for first time since it sank off SC coast

Associated Press

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — A decade after the raising of the Confederate submarine Hunley off the South Carolina coast, the cause of the sinking of the first sub in history to sink an enemy warship remains a mystery. But scientists are edging closer.

On Friday, scientists announced one of the final steps that should help explain what happened after the hand-cranked sub and its eight-man crew rammed a spar with a powder charge into the Union blockade ship Housatonic off Charleston in February, 1864.

Early next year the 23-ton sub will be delicately rotated to an upright position, exposing sections of hull not examined in almost 150 years.

When the Hunley sank, it was buried in sand listing 45 degrees to starboard. It was kept that way as slings were put beneath it and it was raised and brought to a conservation lab in North Charleston a decade ago.

Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the raising of the Hunley, discovered five years earlier by shipwreck hunter Clive Cussler.

As thousands watched from boats and the shoreline, the Hunley was brought from the depths and back to the lab by barge. Thousands turned out again in April 2004 when the crew was buried in what has been called the last Confederate funeral.

During the past 15 years, about $22 million has been spent excavating and conserving the Hunley, according to Friends of Hunley, the nonprofit group that raises money for the project.

About $10.8 million came from the state and federal government, with the rest raised through donations and tour ticket and merchandise sales. About a half million people have seen the sub that sits in a tank of water at the conservation lab.

An economic analysis earlier this year estimated the project has returned its investment many times over.

The study found that publicity from hundreds of news stories, a half dozen documentaries and a made-for-TV movie has generated at least $30 million in a state where tourism is an $18 billion industry.

"I have absolutely no misgivings," said state Sen. Glenn McConnell, the chairman of the South Carolina Hunley Commission. "The state is spending millions of dollars to get its message out to get people to visit here and the Hunley, in just one new historic revelation, makes history and makes news all over the world."

U-Haul also has the picture of the Hunley on the side of 1,200 of its rental trucks that travel throughout the country, essentially free advertising that the company says would otherwise be worth $117 million.

Rotating the sub will allow scientists to, for the first time, completely examine the Hunley's hull.

It's a delicate operation, involving replacing the existing slings before the sub is turned upright. The pressure on the straps will be monitored electronically and a laser will monitor to make sure the surface doesn't get warped.

The Hunley is "a ghost of an iron object," said senior conservator Paul Mardikian, adding it has "hundreds of different parts and everything has to move together."

Putting it upright should provide clues to the sinking.

Was it damaged by fire from the Houstonic or perhaps struck by a second Union ship coming to the aid of the blockade vessel? Were the Hunley sailors knocked out by the concussion of the explosion that sank the Housatonic?

The clues indicate the crew died of anoxia, a lack of oxygen which can overtake a person very quickly, and didn't drown. The remains showed they were at their crank stations and there was no rush for an escape hatch.

McConnell concedes he didn't expect the project to take so long and thought it would have been in a museum by now.

"The Hunley is a very complex artifact and we decided we had only one chance to do it and that was to do it right," he said.

He estimates the Hunley could now be displayed in a museum by 2015.

Conservation of such artifacts often takes years, underwater archeologists say.

It was almost 30 years before the Swedish royal warship Vasa, which sank in 1628 in Stockholm Harbor and was raised in 1961, went on display in a permanent museum.

Scientific reports on the Vasa are just coming out, said Lawrence Babits, director of the Program in Maritime Studies at East Carolina University.

"The Hunley is iron and the iron isn't very thick and iron that has been in salt water is in a very nebulous state," he said. Putting it in shape where it can be displayed "does take time."

Frederick Hanselmann, a field archaeologist at the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M said the most painstaking part of conserving iron objects is removing the salts from years in sea water.

Conserving a ship cannon alone can take three to four years, he said.

"For conservation it's not an unusually long time, especially considering they are conserving an entire submarine," said Mark Gordon, the president and chief executive officer of Odyssey Marine Exploration.

The company salvaged more than 50,000 coins and other artifacts from the wreck of the SS Republic off Savannah, Ga., in 2003 and while many of those coins are being displayed, some of the artifacts are still being conserved seven years later, Gordon said.

Hunley archaeologist Maria Jacobsen isn't surprised the cause of the sinking hasn't been found and expects a new series of questions and answers when the Hunley is rotated.

"I do think with persistence and patience and a good deal of luck we will get there," she said.

In this Aug. 3, 2010 photo, the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, with some of the hull panels removed to allow excavation, rests in a conservation tank at a lab in North Charleston, S.C. Aug. 8 marks the 10th anniversary of the raising of the sub, the first in history to sink an enemy warship. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

Read more at the Washington Examiner

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

USC produces award winning documentaries with ETV: ‘Finding Clovis’ from ‘Carolina Stories’ wins 2010 Telly

From The Daily Gamecock:

USC produces award winning documentaries with ETV

‘Finding Clovis’ from ‘Carolina Stories’ wins 2010 Telly; ‘Take on the South’ takes regional Emmy

Three ETV documentaries produced with the University of South Carolina have won awards.

“Finding Clovis,” a special featured as part of ETV’s weekly documentary series “Carolina Stories,” won a 2010 bronze Telly Award in the documentary category.
The episode featured USC archaeologist Al Goodyear (pictured right holding the Telly Award with “Finding Clovis” producer Steve Folks, photo courtesy of and focused on his research on the sudden disappearance of the Clovis people, a tribe of hunters and toolmakers who dwelled in South Carolina more than 13,000 years ago.

The episode was filmed at USC’s Topper excavation site in Allendale, which is considered to be one of the most important Clovis sites in the United States.

Goodyear’s research and findings suggest that a pre-Clovis people occupied the area who date back about 50,000 years, which has sparked scientific debate and interest. Dennis Stanford from the Smithsonian Institution and geophysicist Allen West from Arizona accompanied Goodyear on his excavation.

You can read the rest of the piece here.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Deadline Extended for "Notes from the Field"!

What Did You Do This Year?

Let folks know! Submit an article or “Notes from the Field” for South Carolina Antiquities 2010! The deadline has been extended to August 15!

South Carolina Antiquities seeks articles about archaeology in South Carolina and adjacent areas. Professional and avocational archaeologists should send papers you have been working on for review. In addition, this year Antiquities will include a “Notes from the Field” section for you to update colleagues on current projects and recent finds. This is a great way to contribute to a larger discussion of archaeology in South Carolina.

Manuscripts submitted for review should conform to the American Antiquity style guide (see the ASSC website for a pdf copy). The deadline for submission for 2010 is June 30.

Please send submissions to the Journal Editor, Jodi Barnes at

Friday, July 30, 2010 - The South Carolina Native American Pottery Research web site - The South Carolina Native American Pottery Research web site

By Carl Steen
Earlier the year a new web site dedicated to Native American pottery research was posted at Although we have seen decades of archaeology in South Carolina that has involved Native American pottery no one has ever succeeded in synthesizing the data. That is not to say that I have finally done so. With this web site I have not tried to write a full synthesis or come up with the last word on the subject. Indeed, my conclusion is that someone - or group of someones - needs to spend about ten years, full time researching the subject and another ten writing it up. It's not as simple as making up a few type names and descriptions and slotting everything into them.

But what I have managed to accomplish is to get electronic copies of all of the important pottery studies I could find and post them on the web site. Many of these were available on the internet. In other cases the authors had pdfs, while in still others I scanned books and gray literature reports. There are some golden oldies up there that have sat on many of us older South Carolina archaeologists' bookshelves for years that the younger generation has not had the opportunity to consult. And there has been a spate of good dissertations coming out of North Carolina in the last decade that many of us older folks probably haven't seen. Those and similar works are posted as well.

I have also tried to summarize what disparate researchers have said about the various pottery “types” we all refer to in our work. South Carolina falls on the fault line between what early researchers call northern and southern traditions. Well, as usual it isn't as simple as that. Some things, like cord marked and fabric impressed surface finishes are dominant in the north. Carved paddle stamping is dominant in the south. But cord marked pottery is made throughout South Carolina at different times, and paddle stamped pottery is found in the north. With some wares like Stallings and Thoms Creek we can see the practice spreading northward along the coast and up the rivers, as if people were exploring and spreading out. Yet people far to the north took up pottery making within a thousand years of its introduction and their practice of cord and fabric marking surfaces spread back to the south just as quickly.

To make matters worse, at different times sherds that would fit a given pottery type description can actually be hundreds of years younger or older. In looking at carbon dates we find pottery identified as a given type, such as Wilmington, with dates that run from about 300BC to 1500AD. I have collected as many carbon dates as I could find, and corrected them. I've looked at analysis techniques and terminology and tried to set forth, if not standardize definitions. I've tried to put together as much information as possible in hopes that interested parties can carry the work forward.

And, by popular demand, there is a “pottery for beginners” page. If you find a sherd somewhere you can at least try to identify it by type and get an idea of its age and cultural affiliation. I hope the members of the ASSC find this site as enjoyable to use as it was to put together. This work was sponsored by the people of Beaufort County, with the guidance of the State Historic Preservation Office and the Department of Transporatation.

Archaeologist to research Sherman’s march

Archaeologist to research Sherman’s march

An archaeologist in the University of South Carolina’s College of Arts and Sciences has been awarded a grant by The American Battlefield Protection Program, part of the National Park Service, to research Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s campaign across South Carolina.

Dr. Steven D. Smith, associate director of applied research in the college’s S.C. Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, will begin the two-year project this fall.

The $64,200 grant calls for researching, identifying, locating and providing a current status of multiple battlefields, skirmish sites and camps associated with Sherman’s march across the Palmetto State. Smith’s research also will include the study of two “Yankee” POW camps within Columbia’s city limits. He expects to document 60 sites; no excavation work will be done.

The grant is one of 25 NPS grants awarded to preserve and protect significant battle sites from all wars fought on American soil. Smith has spent 18 years conducting military site archaeology in South Carolina and the Southeast.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Archaeologist's research could boost South Carolina's heritage tourism

Archaeologist's research could boost South Carolina's heritage tourism
Article and photo courtesy of

Francis Marion, South Carolina's legendary Swamp Fox who helped repel the British during the Revolutionary War, is a legend in American history.

But when Mom and Dad are on their way to Florida, how do you get them to stop in the Palmetto State and tell Marion's story to their kids?

There are no interpretive centers at any of the places Marion frequented during his lifetime, though there could be in the future, thanks in part to the work of Steven D. Smith, associate director of applied research at the S.C. Institute of Archeology and Anthropology at the University of South Carolina.

Smith, who oversees the Institute's Military Sites Program, has been conducting archaeological research at Revolutionary War battlefields since 2002. He has been the principal investigator for archival and field surveys at battlefields like Camden, Blackstocks, Musgrove Mill, Fort Motte, and Francis Marion battlefields like Blue Savannah, Snow's Island, Wadboo Plantation, and Parker's Ferry.

The research is helping South Carolina's heritage tourism industry to interpret the sites for tourists.

"You need an infrastructure in order for tourism to work and you need to interpret the story," said Smith, who recently confirmed the location of a Revolutionary War battlefield called Williamson's Plantation at Historic Brattonsville for the York County Culture and Heritage Museums.

"The centers have to be developed," said Smith, "but our research provides the history and archaeology that will be used to develop accurate language for signage, interpretive programs, and tours."

In the past, Smith's field survey and research with institute colleague James B. Legg has led to a battlefield interpretive trail at the Battle of Camden for the Palmetto Conservation Foundation.

The idea, said Smith, is to entice people off the interstate to spend time and money in South Carolina while learning about a unique chapter in American history.

This could be especially important in the economically depressed Lowcountry between Georgetown, Charleston, and Florence, where Francis Marion lived and fought the British. The state's Francis Marion Trail Commission sponsored Smith's archaeological study of Marion's battlefields in that region.
Developing tourism related to the Swamp Fox is actually just a byproduct of Smith's personal interest and research on the famous partisan fighter.
Smith has been pursuing Marion's legacy ever since 1993 when he began to receive grant and contract funding from organizations like the Sonoco Products Co., the Lowcountry Council of Governments, and most recently, the trail commission, to confirm the authenticity of sites associated with the Swamp Fox.
Over time, the research enabled Smith to enter the Ph.D. program in anthropology at Carolina and begin work on his dissertation that focuses on the partisan community around Snow's Island, S.C., during the Revolution.

The area provided a base of operations, secure campsites, supplies, and men who helped Marion, who is "widely acknowledged as America's most successful partisan fighter," Smith said.

Smith's dissertation examines the Snow's Island community, including analysis of historic documents, landscape, and archaeology. It will also review the national memory of Marion from the early 19th century to the present.

In addition to Snow's Island, Smith's dissertation will examine another Marion site known as Dunham's Bluff, as well as Wadboo Plantation in the Moncks Corner area.

All told, he has examined 15 sites since the start of his research on Marion, five of which have turned up material evidence of a campground or battlefield where the Swamp Fox lived or fought, and which hold promise that they could be incorporated into some type of an interpretive center, trail, or program.

"Step one is to find the sites. Step two is to develop the infrastructure for interpreting those sites. And step three is the acquisition of the sites in order to preserve them," said Smith.

A long-range plan by the Francis Marion Trail Commission, he added, calls for facilities that would attract visitors at places like Francis Marion University, Moncks Corner, and Georgetown.

In addition to confirming the location of places frequented by Marion, as a result of his research, Smith has also begun to rethink how Marion fought the British. Increasingly, he said, archeologists and artifact hunters working with him are finding fewer musket balls than expected and instead are turning up smaller caliber lead shot in battlefields.

That indicates to Smith that Marion's forces relied more on smooth bore trade guns and rifles, and often fired birdshot, evidence of yet another classic guerilla tactic for which Marion was well known.

The smaller weapons were still quite effective as "you didn't have to kill the enemy, you could just disperse him or put him out of commission," Smith said.

"I'm kind of an old-fashioned historian in the sense that I still like facts," Smith said. "I like to try to verify the past as much as I can using the evidence of archaeology, so my main interest in Marion is to combine primary source material and archaeology to wrest from the mythology who the real Francis Marion was.

"I like to understand history in terms of the way people understood themselves rather than the way we want to look at them. That is my thing and Francis Marion is sort of my cause célèbre for that."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What did you do this year?

Submit an article or “Notes from the Field” for South Carolina Antiquities 2010!

South Carolina Antiquities seeks articles about archaeology in South Carolina and adjacent areas. Professional and avocational archaeologists should send papers you have been working on for review. In addition, this year Antiquities will include a “Notes from the Field” section for you to update colleagues on current projects and recent finds. This is a great way to contribute to a larger discussion of archaeology in South Carolina.

Manuscripts submitted for review should conform to the American Antiquity style guide (see the ASSC website for a pdf copy). The deadline for submission for 2010 is June 30.

Please send submissions or queries about books to review to the Journal Editor, Jodi Barnes at

Archaeological Resource Act Passed

I am very pleased to relate that the Archaeological Resource Act
introduced by House Bill 4129 was signed into law on 11 June 2010.
A copy of the act as signed is attached. The final form of the act will
be distributed after publication to the Acts etc.

It was a great privilege to work with Representative Funderburk, Camden.
Her leadership was instrumental and should be recognized and commended
by all of us. The members of COSCAPA who weighed in on behalf of the
bill should also be commended. The opposition had come out in force (it
made the front page of a newsletter in Pattaya, Thailand) and the
support was very important to the bill's passage.

Thank you all very much,


Jonathan Leader, PhD
SC State Archaeologist

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Digging in: Research team looks for clues on Indian life at Tuckasee King

Digging in
Research team looks for clues on Indian life at Tuckasee King

By Patrick Donahue

An afternoon by the river was a day of work for a team of researchers at Tuckasee King on Thursday.

Under the leadership of Dr. Charles Cobb, a team from the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology conducted a series of test digs at Tuckasee King as they continue their research into the lives of Colonial-era Indians.

The South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology received a grant from the National Science Foundation to research the migration of Native Americans in the 1600s and 1700s as those Indians traveled to Charleston, S.C., to engage in trade. The goods they traded mostly were deer skins, being shipped out of Charleston to Europe.

What the team is hoping to uncover is how trade affected the mass migrations of Indians to the Lowcountry and how the influx of Europeans may have changed Indian ways and culture.

“To us, it’s really important, because it’s not in the history books,” said Dr. Christian DePratter, a USC archaeologist. “There’s not enough documentation as to what they were and on their everyday life.”

The Indians moving through the area included the Uchee from Tennessee and the Chickasaw from Mississippi.

“There was a huge swath of Native Americans,” Dr. Cobb said.

The project is in its second year, and Cobb envisions it as a long-term endeavor. Their trip to Tuckasee King on Thursday was their first foray across the Savannah River from the Palmetto State into the Peach State. They have conducted digs at Stokes Bluff.

“This is our second field search in what’s probably a 12-15-year project to look up and down the river,” Dr. DePratter said.

What Dr. Cobb and his team have found are sites dating back to the 1700s. They were having lunch in Springfield one day and noticed the name Tuckasee King. That got them to thinking about that site being a potential home to Indians.

“We said, ‘that’s an Indian name,’ and said, ‘we’ve got to find out,’” Cobb noted.

Tuckasee, he said, is the Uchee name for chief.

The team conducted 15 shovel tests at the Tuckasee King landing. Each individual dig was a square of 50 centimeters, or about 20 inches.
“We’re looking for Indian pottery,” said Joseph Johnson, a senior archaeology major at USC.

And what they’ve found, mostly quarter-sized pieces, leads them to believe they selected the right location for a dig.

“Now, we’re pretty sure,” Dr. Cobb said. “The ceramics we’re finding are identical to those on the other side of the river.”

“It’s enough to tell us there was a settlement here, and at least we know there was something here from that period,” Dr. DePratter said.

Dr. DePratter said the “tribes” were breaking down and re-forming as they migrated and as they were defeated by other groups of Indians.

The area at Tuckasee King is similar to a site upriver on the South Carolina side, with a high bluff allowing for views up and down the river. It’s a strategic spot, “for defensive purposes as much as anything,” Dr. Cobb said. “This is an incredibly important trade route.”

Thursday’s dig was a one-day visit, but Cobb and his crew hope to return to Effingham for a longer stay and will talk with county officials about doing something more extensive in the future.

Coastal Carolina's first archaeological field school

Coastal Carolina's first archaeological field school
By Dr. Cheryl Ward

Here at Coastal Carolina, we’re getting ready for our first archaeological field school as Dr. Carolyn Dillian has arrived from Princeton just in time to start shopping and planning for an archaeology extravaganza. The field school will be based at the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge, where we will be conducting survey and excavation work (and camping out) as well as traveling a bit to The Oaks at Brookgreen, other refuge properties, and some other sites that need attention. Historic and prehistoric time periods will be covered, and we’ll send out a link for you to follow along with us.

We will be starting right here in Conway, where a utilities excavation opened up part of the late 19th-century shipyards near the river. There are a few spots open for volunteers in good physical health who are interested in helping to screen heavy clay sediments and otherwise record artifacts from the pit spoil. If you’re interested and available on Tuesday 8-12, or 1-5, or Wednesday 8-12, contact me directly for more information at

A recent discovery at Charles Towne adds to the understanding of its chronology.

Please feel free to forward these notes, and encourage people who want to subscribe to visit to do so.

Our next group meeting will be on Tuesday, July 13, at 7 pm, in the Waccamaw Center for Higher Education, and we will present the results of our field school work and outline plans for the rest of the year’s programs and field days.

Cheryl Ward
Director, Center for Archaeology and Anthropology
Associate Professor of History, Maritime Archaeologist
Coastal Carolina University
P.O. Box 261954
Conway, SC 29528 tel. 843.349.6657

Sunday, May 30, 2010

SC State Park Archaeology Newsletter

SC State Park Archaeology Newsletter

The 2nd quarterly ArchNews Letter is now posted!

Click here and enjoy. Please send us your comments and/or any friends who might be interested in receiving it.

Thanks for your interest in South Carolina State Parks archaeology. Visit us soon.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Saving grace: Rare slave artifacts uncovered during site work to be put on display at Cypress Gardens

Saving grace
Rare slave artifacts uncovered during site work to be put on display at Cypress Gardens

By Allyson Bird
The Post and Courier
Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A one-time reptile house at Cypress Gardens reopens in a few days with a more culturally significant exhibit: artifacts from slaves who toiled nearby on Dean Hall plantation.

The Heritage Room at the picturesque Moncks Corner attraction welcomes its first guests June 7, about two years after a routine archaeological survey uncovered a historical jackpot. DuPont Cooper River had announced plans to build a Kevlar fibers plant and, as part of its site preparation work, discovered the artifacts, according to plant site manager Ellis McGaughy.
"We went into it not expecting this," he said. "We rearranged some work to allow archaeologists to do their work. When you hear archaeologists get excited, everybody else gets excited, too."

That meant bringing about 30 people from the firm Brockington and Associates out to the site just north of Cypress Gardens for a month -- about three times the normal manpower on a dig, according to archaeologists. They excavated some 125,000 artifacts primarily from the 19th century: bone buttons and silver coins, stoneware bowls and glass bottles, porcelain doll heads and pipe stems, a lamp wick and brass keys, even Native American arrowheads that the slaves collected.

Lab program manager Nicole Isenbarger said an estimated 150 slaves lived at the site in a 19-cabin village. The dig included about 58,000 pieces -- one of the largest concentrations ever discovered in the United States -- of handmade clay pottery known as Colonoware.

Slaves used Colonoware to cook one-pot meals, most of which relied on the plantation's staple: rice.

Archaeologist Ralph Bailey said the excavation team worked closely with a historian. The extensive collection of items showed that the same families lived on the land for about 150 years.

Brockington's public outreach division, The History Workshop, interpreted the artifacts to create the exhibit for Cypress Gardens. For now, it all sits in dozens of white boxes in the firm's office in a Mount Pleasant business park, ready for transport.

DuPont spent an estimated $250,000 on the dig, according to Bailey. Berkeley County, which owns and manages Cypress Gardens, funded the $100,000 renovation of the old reptile house, with an extra financial boost from private supporters.

Berkeley County Supervisor Dan Davis said the artifacts turned up at an opportune time, when officials wanted a new focus for cash-strapped Cypress Gardens.

"The animal exhibit was expensive," he said. "We were looking to eliminate that. At the same time, DuPont was preparing (the) site for Kevlar and began to discover artifacts. You would think this was all scripted, but it wasn't."

The renovation included building an heirloom garden with species that people would have planted around their homes in the mid-19th century. Staff at the attraction also relocated many of the reptiles to the "Swamparium" before closing their exhibit last year.

Cypress Gardens Director Dwight Williams said the Heritage Room will showcase a small fraction of the thousands of artifacts recovered but fill an important niche previously missing from the attraction.

"It's just one facet of the whole park story that we really hadn't been addressing before," Williams said. "People get a little frustrated. They know that Cypress Gardens is part of the plantation, but we don't have the plantation structures there any more to show them. This will help us out with that."
One of the Dean Hall buildings was moved off site to accommodate the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce in 1969, and the mansion was shipped to Beaufort and reassembled after DuPont purchased the site.

As for the Kevlar plant, where the artifact story began, it should start cranking out strong fibers in early 2012 and employ more than 100 local workers.

From Picture: Nicole Isenbarger holds a large, nearly complete piece of Colonoware found on the Dean Hall tract during the construction of the future site of the DuPont factory. The artifacts will be on display at Cypress Gardens.