Archive for October, 2014

Federal Road and Lower Creek Path in Georgia
October 29, 2014

From the Georgia Trust’s website:


The Federal Road in Georgia developed from the established Lower Creek Trading Path, a trading path between Lower Creek Nation and Upper Creek Nation towns. Following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, President Thomas Jefferson and his Indian Agent to the Creeks, Benjamin Hawkins, negotiated official use of the trail as a Federal Road and it became a conduit for white settlement in southwest Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. In 1811, President Madison ordered the widening of the road into a well-marked thoroughfare capable of supporting U.S. troop movements. The completion of the road and the increase in white settlement was a major factor leading to the Creek War (1813-1814) between the Lower Creek Nation, which adopted the Euro-American agricultural lifestyle, and the Upper Creek Nation, which held to native traditions. Today, known portions of the Federal Road serve as roadbeds of several modern highways that utilize the same established route through Georgia.

In recent years, archaeologists and historians in Alabama have made a concerted effort to document and preserve the history of the Federal Road in that state. There has been no similarly well-coordinated effort in Georgia. Remaining traces of the Federal Road, particularly where it is unmapped, are susceptible to loss through development, agriculture and modern road and bridge construction. The Places in Peril program helps build greater awareness of this highly significant early transportation corridor.


Recent Activity by The LAMAR Institute, Incorporated
October 21, 2014

Past and Current Projects

Oconee Valley Project

The Oconee Valley Project was initiated by Lamar Institute associates Mark Williams and the late Gary Shapiro in the early 1980s with the intent to locate, map, and gather baseline information on all aboriginal mound sites in the Oconee River valley of central Georgia. The project was an offshoot of the University of Georgia’s Lake Oconee salvage project. The project includes archaeological field research at the  Copeland  site (near Greensboro, Georgia ), the  King Bee site (near Eatonton, Georgia),  Little River  mounds (near Madison, Georgia), the  Sawyer  site (near Dublin, Georgia),  Scull Shoals mounds (near Greensboro, Georgia), Shinholser mounds (near Milledgeville, Georgia), and  Shoulderbone mounds (near Sparta, Georgia). The project efforts have since spread to incorporate adjacent watersheds (Savannah River and Ocmulgee River) and include survey, mapping, and test excavation of other aboriginal sites in northern Georgia including: Tate Mound near Elberton, Georgia; Bullard’s Landing Mounds, Browns Mount, and Lamar Mound (near Macon, Georgia); Fortson Mound (near Washington, Georgia); and Ramona’s Mound (near Abbeville, South Carolina). The project also incorporates many surface surveys, which consisted of a systematic search for all archaeological sites within vast timber clearcuts and agricultural fields. Several recent examples of the latter are available on the LAMAR Institute’s website, including reports on the Lindsey, Margaret Ann Bell and Lucky Last sites by Williams and others.  Together these excavation and survey data help to reconstruct the patterns of prehistoric settlement in central Georgia on a scale never before witnessed. Most of these excavations and surveys are documented in the Lamar Institute Report Series.

Battlefield Archaeology

Over the past decade LAMAR Institute researchers have applied battlefield archaeology research techniques to numerous battlefields in the southeastern United States. Beginning in 2001 with a study of Revolutionary War Ebenezer, Georgia, the team explored other Revolutionary War engagements in Kettle Creek, Savannah and Sunbury, Georgia. Colonial military conflict at Sansavilla Bluff was also on their plate. Next came Georgia’s Civil War battlefields at Lovejoy, Monteith Swamp, Dug Gap and Rocky Face Ridge. The team completed a study of portions of the 1814-1815 battle of New Orleans in Chalmette and Meraux, Louisiana. Most recently, the LAMAR Institute’s battlefield research team discovered the lost Revolutionary War battle of Captain Robert Carr’s Fort in Wilkes County, Georgia. Other recently completed LAMAR Institute reports that pertain to fortifications in Georgia include reports on Forts Hollingsworth, Jackson (5 Fathom Hole below Savannah) and Mathews. Reports for the other studies are presently in the LAMAR Institute online report library for free public download.

The next installment in the LAMAR Institute’s battlefield archaeology series is at Purysburg, South Carolina. Historical research for that study of a Revolutionary War headquarters complex and battlefield already is underway thanks to a large research grant from the National Park Service, American Battlefield Protection Program. Fieldwork on the battlefield is scheduled to begin on January 12, 2015. A final report should be available from the LAMAR Institute’s website by early 2016.
Lower Cherokee Towns

Salvage excavations and site stabilization at the Lower Cherokee town of Tamassee, Oconee County, South Carolina were conducted by the Lamar Institute in 1984 in conjunction with the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology (SCIAA), University of South Carolina. The published results of this work are available through the Research Manuscript Series, SCIAA, Columbia, S.C. For information about obtaining digital version sof the Tamassee report, contact Jonathan Leader (S.C. State Archaeologist) at SCIAA.

More recently, Mark Williams has conducted survey and test excavations at other Lower Cherokee towns in northeastern Georgia. These include Estatoe in Stephens County.
Lost City Survey

In 1987 the LAMAR Institute launched a research initiative, known as ” Lost City Survey”  , which focused on previously unstudied colonial period settlements in Georgia and South Carolina. The centerpiece of this work is New Ebenezer, Georgia, which was a town settled by Pietist Lutherans from the Alps. Survey and Excavations of the colonial town of   New Ebenezer, Effingham County, Georgia are ongoing. Survey and/or excavations have been conducted on several other colonial towns in coastal Georgia, including: Abercorn,    Bethany, Mount Pleasant, Old Ebenezer, and Vernonburg . The LAMAR Institute, working in cooperation with the Diachronic Research Foundation, Inc., Columbia, S.C., surveyed the site of   Jamestown, South Carolina, which was another “dead town” that was founded on the lower Santee River by French Huguenots in 1706. Most of the Lamar Institute’s “Lost City” research is documented in the Lamar Institute Report Series. Many of these towns were discussed more than a century ago in the book, Dead Towns of Georgia, by Charles C. Jones, Jr.   The Lost Cities research expanded to include Sunbury in Liberty County and San Savilla in Wayne County, Georgia, which are discussed below. Sunbury is one of C.C. Jones Jr.’s “Dead Towns”, which is now showing signs of new life as a coastal development. Other lost settlements that were the subject of earlier research by LAMAR Institute include  Petersburg, Georgia and New Bordeaux and Purysburg, South Carolina. As noted in the Battlefield Archaeology section above, LAMAR Institute researchers have embarked on a new study of Purysburg, which should be completed by 2016. 

Plantation Archaeology

Plantation archaeology is an essential part of southeastern historical archaeology. Two adjacent plantations in the Goose Creek section of South Carolina serve to illustrate this aspect of archaeology. Crowfield and Broomhall were two 18th century Goose Creek rice plantations in Berkeley County, South Carolina. In 1987 Garrow & Associates, Inc.conducted archaeological survey of both plantations for Westvaco. The work was underfunded and fast paced. Concurrent work at Broomhall, directed by Steven Byrne was never fully documented. After completing the survey report, Garrow & Associates was contracted to prepare a National Register of Historic Places nomination for Crowfield Plantation. This document was completed and submitted to Westvaco, who promptly filed it away and it was not submitted. That ended the Garrow & associates chapter of Crowfield and Broomhall research. Major portions of these two important and unique 18th century treasures were subsequently trashed by the development project.  The mantle was taken up by several other researchers, including: Robert S. Webb Associates,  the Chicora Foundation, and Dargan Associates (landscape architects). Several more studies ensued. A summary of work done in a short LAMAR Institute report, see Crowfield and Broomhall.

The reports by Robert S. Webb Associates were produced in very limited quantity, despite their substance and signficiant findings. The Chicora reports on Crowfield and Broomhall plantations are out of print, except for one short study of the gardens at Crowfield as a .pdf file at this website: crowfieldlandscape_chicora102 The other reports by Chicora Foundation are available through Interlibrary Loan. Ms. Barbara Orsolits, M.H.P. created this webpage about Crowfield, as part of a larger study of historical landscape archaeology in the South Carolina low country:
Advances on the Internet have provided easy access to additional information on Crowfield, Broomhall, and the Goose Creek plantations. For example, Leiding’s 1921 Historic Houses of South Carolina is available from as a .pdf. It includes a discussion of Crowfield. historic_houses_of_South_Carolina

LAMAR Institute researchers cooperated with the Diachronic Research Foundation in a study of  John DelaHowe’s Lethe Farm plantation in McCormick County, South Carolina. The report of that work was produced by the Diachronic Research Foundation. A discussion of the findings also is presented in Carl Steen’s chapter in the University of Alabama Press book, Another’s Country, edited by J.W. Joseph and M. Zierden.

The LAMAR Institute’s endeavors in Plantation archaeology in Georgia include studies at Glen Mary plantation in rural Hancock County, Georgia and the North End plantation and South End Plantation on Ossabaw Island, Chatham County, Georgia.  Survey level data for many other Georgia plantations may be found in various LAMAR Institute reports.

Pre-Civil War Forts

Our continuing research initiative, Georgia Pre-Civil War Forts Survey, has made good progress in the past several years. The goal of the initiative is to inventory, locate, and assess military sites in Georgia built prior to 1861. The LAMAR Institute’s inventory of potential military sites in Georgia, dating prior to 1861, presently stands at 328 and growing. Can you name them all?

In 1995 the LAMAR Institute was contracted by Fort Stewart Military Reservation to conduct historical research and excavations at Fort Argyle in Bryan County, Georgia. Fort Argyle was a small colonial fort on the Ogeechee River, which lasted from 1734 to 1758.

In 2001 the LAMAR Institute delved into the Revolutionary War archaeological sites in coastal Georgia. These projects, which are part of the institute’s “Pre-Civil War Forts Initiative”, seek to identify, protect, and interpret important fort and battlefield sites in this region of Georgia. This project was boosted with the generous support of the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP). The LAMAR Institute was awarded research grants from the ABPP in 2001 to explore New Ebenezer’s role as a headquarters for the American Patriot and British armies who were engaged in the Southern campaigns in 1778 to 1783. The “Ebenezer Revolutionary War Headquarters” project identified many important fortifications, defensive trenches, campsites, graves, and other archaeological resources. Historical research was a vital component in this research effort. That work, which was conducted from January 2002 to December 2002, resulted in: detailed topographic mapping of the town and associated earthworks, ground penetrating radar survey of selected parts of town, and extensive historical research. The product is a greatly enriched understanding of Revolutionary War history in Georgia that should provide great research context for this period of Georgia history. The Ebenezer report is available online at  Ebenezer Headquarters . The LAMAR Institute furthered the goals of the Forts Initiative in 2003 when they were awarded three additional research grants. These included ABPP grants for Sunbury Battlefield and the Fort Mount Venture/Sansavilla Bluff Massacre, and a small grant from the Plum Creek Foundation for Fort Mount Venture.

In February 2003, researchers with the LAMAR Institute conducted a preliminary archaeological reconnaissance of Sansavilla Bluff on the Altamaha River in Wayne County,Georgia. This property, which is currently owned by the Plum Creek Timber Company, contains a concentration of early historic and prehistoric sites that have been too long neglected. Three new archaeological sites were recorded and several previously recorded sites were revisited. The finds include the village of Williamsburg (circa 1790-1810) and the probable site of Fort Mount Venture (Mary and John Musgrove’s 1730s trading post. Fort Mount Venture was attacked, burned, and its inhabitants nearly all killed by Spanish-allied Yamassee Indians in 1742. This site, which was allegedly located in the 1960s by University of Georgia archaeologists (but not officially reported or recorded), promises to be one of the most significant sites in colonial Georgia. In March 2003 the LAMAR Institute conducted a reconnaissance survey of a 4 acre tract at Hudson’s Ferry in Screven County, Georgia. Hudson’s Ferry was a major British post in 1779 and is a place rich in history. The Sunbury report is available at  Sunbury  . Related information on nearby Fort Morris is also available online from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The Sansavilla Bluff report is available at Sansavilla Bluff. The Hudson’s Ferry report is available at  Hudson’s Ferry . LAMAR Institute research on the fortifications of Camden County, Georgia were fast-forwarded when a planned residential development and marina threatened the late 18th and early 19th century U.S. Army post at Point Peter. Subsequent historical and archaeological research at Point Peter was undertaken by the firm of Brockington & Associates. The LAMAR Institute’s preliminary introduction to the Camden County forts is available in the online report at  Point Peter.

The recent endeavor of the LAMAR Institute’s Fort’s Initiative are the excavations at Fort Hawkins in Macon, Georgia. Fort Hawkins was a major United States Army headquarters post from 1806 to 1821. It also served as the primary “factory” in the southern Indian trade. LAMAR Institute researchers are studying the site through historical documents and excavation and a detailed summary of this active project is presented at our News page and at the website: LAMAR Institute’s involvement at Fort Hawkins began in August, 2005 and continues to the present. In 2014, the City of Macon and the Fort Hawkins Commission unveiled its Fort Hawkins Visitor’s Center.

Most recently the LAMAR Institute conducted field research at three eighteenth century fortifications in northern Georgia. These include GPR sampling at Forts Mathews (Oconee County) and Hollingsworth (Banks County) and an in-depth battlefield survey at Captain Robert Carr’s Fort (and surrounding cultural landscape) in Wilkes County.

Skeletons in the Closet 

Another research focus, the Skeletons in the Closet Initiative, also reports significant progress. The goal of this initiative is to root out the history of early Georgia archaeology and its archaeologists and introduce them to the people of the 3rd Millenium.

Mark Williams has made significant strides by creating a biographical file on Georgia archaeologists. Williams also has been ferreting out the facts on the Irene Mound excavations of the 1930s. The reanalysis of the Irene Mound collections, funded by the National Park Service and implemented by the University of Georgia’s Laboratory of Archaeology, is but one example of the LAMAR Institute’s initiative.
Since 1981 Daniel Elliott has been in dogged pursuit of one of Georgia’s first archaeologists, Roland Steiner. The initial trail led him to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. where a massive relic collection was discovered. The Smithsonian Institution’s Steiner collection once numbered more than 78,000 items. Most of it was acquired by the museum following a Resolution passed in the House of Representatives in the U.S. Congress. Although the precise number of remaining artifacts with Steiner’s provenance is unavailable, the Smithsonian’s curatorial staff estimated it to be about 35,000 items.

Following up on clues found in his Smithsonian Institution research, Dan Elliott conducted a reconnaissance inspection of the 19th century Georgian Roland A. Steiner collection at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago in April 1999 and in February 2002 he examined the files pertaining to Georgia collections at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), New York. The Field Museum collection contains about 2,000 artifacts from Georgia. Nearly all of these were collected by Roland Steiner. The Field Museum originally purchased more than 15,000 artifacts from his collection. Obviously the collection was greatly reduced over the century that followed.

About another 20,000 artifacts from Roland Steiner’s collection wound up at the AMNH, thanks to the generosity of George Foster Peabody. Steiner was nearing the end of his life and needed to sell the collection. Peabody, who was a native Georgian, purchased the collection for the museum. Dan Elliott, accompanied by Rita Elliott spent one week studying the Georgia collections at the AMNH through a visiting scholar grant from the museum. Like Steiner’s other collection, the AMNH collection has dwindled through the years as many items from the collection were exchanged with other museums, discarded, or otherwise deaccessioned. The AMNH collection also includes major collections by Charles C. Jones, Jr., Roland Steiner, George Foster Peabody, Robert Wauchope and others.  To learn more about Roland Steiner and his exploits, click  here for the first installment of the Roland Steiner Project, which includes introductory background information and transcribed correspondence and other paper documents relating to Steiner and his works.

While researching Roland Steiner’s collection at the Smithsonian Institution, Dan Elliott stumbled across a lesser known figure in Georgia Archaeology–William McGlashan. McGlashan worked as a civil engineer for the Georgia Railroad and was responsible for re-routing a section of track in the Ogeechee River watershed in the late 1830s or early 1840s. During that work, McGlashan personally collected, or had the railroad workers under his charge bring to him, curious Native American relics that were unearthed by the construction. At the time of Elliott’s “discovery” of the McGlashan horde these artifacts were being decontaminated for asbestos. It seems that many of McGlashan’s artifacts (as well as a portion of Steiner’s artifacts) had been stored in the attic of the Smithsonian “Castle”. These particular relics were not available for research at that time, although Elliott gathered some documentary background on McGlashan and his collecting activity for future reference. That material was published as a LIPS report. Physical examination of materials collected by McGlashan, which remain in curation at the Smithsonian Institution Suitland, Maryland facility, is on the LAMAR Institute’s wish list.

Another important collection in the Suitland, Maryland facility of the Smithsonian Institute is Preston Holder’s collection from his WPA Glynn County, Georgia Excavation Project. Preston Holder (born September 10, 1907 and died June 3, 1980) had a long career in anthropology as a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, although his stint in Georgia archaeology was very brief and sadly under-reported. Dan Elliott also gathered documentary information about Holder’s excavations, which were contained in the Antonio Waring papers in Suitland. Elliott briefly perused the artifact drawers that contained many artifacts from Holder’s excavations at the Airport site, which at that time were still curated at the National Museum of Natural History on the Mall in Washington, DC. These items have since been transferred to the Suitland facility.

Kevin Kiernan also took notice of Preston Holder’s unreported coastal Georgia WPA archaeology project, which he summarized as a chapter entitled, “Preston Holder’s WPA Excavations in Glynn and Chatham Counties, Georgia, 1936-1938”, in a recent publication, entitled: Shovel Ready: Archaeology and Roosevelt’s New Deal for America, edited by Bernard K. Means (The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, 2013). See also a short summary of Kiernan’s study on Holder in the November 2011, The SAA Archaeological Record, which is available online. Holder’s actual artifact collection from numerous sites on St. Simons Island, Sea Island and the adjacent mainland remain to be analyzed, however, and it continues to hold great secrets about the Terminal Archaic and Woodland period on Georgia’s barrier islands. The recent rattling his skeletons in Holder’s closet has attracted the attention of several scholars on coastal Georgia archaeology.

Some of the Skeletons in the Closet are literally in the closet. Mark Williams and Dan Elliott began the Bettye Broyles Repatriation Project (another chapter in the Skeletons in the Closet Initiative) in the Spring, 2000. Bettye is an archaeologist who has made many contributions to our understanding of prehistory and history in the eastern U.S. She also has excellent artistic skills and these skills were sought out by many southeastern archaeologists. Williams and Elliott drove to Bettye’s house near Chattanooga and had a nice visit before attacking a stash of cardboard boxes in her hillside garage. These boxes contained artifacts from a number of Swift Creek sites in Georgia, as well as a few stray boxes from Cahokia and elsewhere.  Broyles had obtained the materials in the early 1960s and her SEAC Bulletin on Swift Creek design motifs was based on these materials.  The collection includes a 1/2 pick-up truckload of sherds from famous sites such as: Fairchild’s Landing, Halloca Creek, Kolomoki, Mandeville, Milamo, and Swift Creek.  Ms. Broyles gave the materials to us for safekeeping and we immediately transferred the collection to the Laboratory of Archaeology at the University of Georgia, Athens.  Bags and boxes that were in tatters were transferred into new bags and carefully relabeled by Williams’ student workers. Many sherds in this collection are exquisite examples of Swift Creek art and are good candidates for a museum exhibit. Obviously, the ownership of the material is an issue that needs to be worked out. If the rightful owners of the materials request them back and can demonstrate that the material will be properly curated this time, then the LAMAR Institute most likely will be willing to repatriate them.

Ms. Broyles also graciously allowed the LAMAR Institute team to photocopy hundreds of Swift Creek design tracings that she had compiled. She intends for the original drawings to be donated to the National Anthropological Archives (NAA), American Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution in the future. The vast majority of these designs are unpublished and we look forward to reproducing them in an upcoming Swift Creek “Pattern” Book. Time did not allow us to complete the photocopying and hundreds of tracings of sherds from the Kolomoki site remain to be copied. Broyles promised to complete the job for us, but many months have passed now and we probably should make a second trip to her house soon.

Ms. Broyles also has a collection of 8-track sound recordings of nearly all Southeastern Archaeological Conference (SEAC) meetings that she attended in the early years. She plans to donate these priceless tapes to the NAA as well. Although her mind is quite clear, age is creeping up on Bettye and hopefully, she will have an opportunity to organize her papers. Since our conversations with Ms. Broyles were “off the record” she imparted many great stories about Southeastern archaeologists to the two of us, which we will treasure always.  Ms. Broyles also demonstrated her tedious, time-consuming, conservative techniques for reconstructing pottery designs, which was fascinating.
[NOTE:  Bettye Jeane Broyles, born on August 16, 1928, left this world on March 27, 2011.]
Among the many interesting collections from Georgia, which are housed at the curation facility in Suitland, Maryland is one from the Greenwood Mound (or Dillard Mound) in Rabun County.  The Greenwood Mound is located near the headwaters of the Little Tennessee River. An obscure archaeologist named William Colburn conducted excavations at Greenwood Mound in the 1930s, which produced one short journal article describing the site. The Greenwood Mound collection at the Smithsonian was briefly reconnoitered and Elliott provides a transcription of Colburn’s field report with additional comments by Elliott regarding their excavated context in a LIPS Report.

Also, recent advances in the digital records and holdings in the Smithsonian Institution Research Information Search (SIRIS) database at the Smithsonian Institution has alerted us to many new avenues for research on Georgia’s early archaeology. Ultimately, we hope to make the Skeletons in the Closet speak. Be sure to check out the recent reprint of Clarence Bloomfield Moore’s classic volume on Georgia archaeology, which also contains a lengthy introduction by Lewis Larson, at The University of Alabama Press. Moore’s original monograph is also available in .pdf format by clicking here, and here. And more information on Georgia’s early archaeologist is available from  Fernbank Museum.

Southwestern Georgia Studies 

Kolomoki, located in the uplands of Early County, Georgia, is a long misunderstood Woodland mound center.  Excavations in the 1960s at Kolomoki by William Sears and students with the University of Georgia, Department of Anthropology, resulted in a series of excavation reports on the site.  Shortly before his death, however, Sears recognized his erroneous interpretation of the site, which he revealed in his famous American Antiquity article. Sears’ confession, plus the results of the LAMAR Institute’s 1993 Swift Creek conference and subsequent publication, set the stage for a reexamination of the Kolomoki site and its role in Woodland society. Tom Pluckhahn reports that great progress is being made at Kolomoki.  Portions of Tom’s dissertation work at Kolomoki were funded by the LAMAR Institute.  The Kolomoki Mound group is an extremely important archaeological site in Early County, Georgia.  Pluckhahn is a Research Associate of the LAMAR Institute.  One important aspect of Pluckhahn’s research was a review of previous work conducted at this important Woodland period mound complex. His fieldwork explored many new parts of the mound center and resulted in an innovative interpretation of the site. Dr. Pluckhan recently accepted a teaching position in Oklahoma, although we expect his interest in the archaeology of Georgia and the Southeast to continue to flourish. Pluckhan’s dissertation research  was recently published by the University of Alabama Press. The LAMAR Institute is proud to have supported, in small part, the Kolomoki Mounds Archaeological Project.

Another research initiative, the Flint River Basin Archaeological Survey, evolved from LAMAR Institute’s archaeological survey research in southwestern Georgia for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Historic Preservation Division. Reconnaissance level survey and relic collector interviews yielded almost 400 previously unrecorded sites in 14 counties of southwestern Georgia. Most of these were located in the Flint River watershed. The LAMAR Institute conducted an archaeological reconnaissance survey of 14 counties in southwestern Georgia, under contract with the Historic Preservation Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources.  The counties under study included Baker, Calhoun, Colquitt, Decatur, Dougherty, Early, Grady, Lee, Miller, Mitchell, Seminole, Terrell, Thomas, and Worth. The reconnaissance resulted in a substantial increase in the known universe of archaeological sites in this region of Georgia. Before the survey slightly more than 1,200 sites were recorded in these 14 counties and after the survey was done, more than 1,500 sites were added to the inventory. Also, a preliminary survey of relic collectors and their collections (relevant to these 14 counties) was completed. The Flint River Basin Archaeological Survey (FRBAS), which was launched in July 2004, expanded the study to include 42 counties in the Flint River watershed. The full report is available at FRBAS Report.

Golden Isles  

The most recent research initiative by the LAMAR Institute is the Golden Isles Initiative. This research is part of a recent “rediscovery” of the wealth of historic period archaeological sites contained on Georgia’s barrier islands. LAMAR Institute researchers teamed up with the Ossabaw Island Foundaiton and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources in a study of the North End Plantation on Ossabaw Island. This research was funded in part by a grant from the National Park Service’s “Save America’s Treasures ” program, as well as generous funds from the Robert Woodruff Foundation and other donors. Two studies were conducted at this plantation site in early 2005 and another was conducted in early 2006. The reports of the 2005-2007 research are available at  North End Plantation (1) and North End Plantation (2).

LAMAR Institute researchers have also been busy at Jekyll, St. Catherines, St. Simons, Tybee Islands, and Cumberland Islands. Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) surveys, survey, test excavations, and historical research are aspects of this exciting research. At Jekyll Island, researchers assisted archaeologists with  Southern Research Historic Preservation Consultants, Inc. and the Jekyll Island Authority in their study of the Captain William Horton plantation–a colonial plantation and tabby ruins.

On St. Simons Island LAMAR Institute researchers, assisted by Georgia Department of Natural Resources archaeologist Jason Burns, conducted a shovel test survey and GPR survey on property of the Coastal Georgia Historical Society near the St. Simons Lighthouse. LAMAR Institute researchers also used GPR to examine a portion of Button Gwinnett’s plantation home on St. Catherines Island. LAMAR Institute researchers excavated beneath the Assistant Keeper’s house at Tybee Lighthouse. The GPR survey report for the Horton house was produced as an appendix in Southern Research’s technical report. The Tybee report is available online as an Adobe .pdf file at Tybee Report . The reports on the work at St. Catherines Island is pending. LAMAR Institute archaeologists assisted archaeologist Carolyn Rock on the northern end of Cumberland Island in a search of the remains of colonial Fort St. Andrews. Rock had covered the area with systematic shovel tests, which had tentatively located the site. The team used GPR survey technology to map portions of the suspected fort site, which is detailed in our Fort St. Andrews GPR report. Subsequent test excavations by the National Park Service confirmed the remains of the fort and data recovery excavations to salvage threatened portions of the site were conducted in the Spring of 2009. LAMAR Institute researchers, Dan Battle, Dan Elliott and Rita Elliott served as volunteers in the 2009 project. Dan and Rita Elliott also volunteered for service at Fort St. Andrews during the NPS, SEAC’s 2014 excavation season. We look forward to NPS archaeologist Meredith Hardy’s report on these important excavations at one of colonial Georgia’s most important coastal defenses.
Hands Across the Water

And speaking of oceans, water is no barrier for archaeological knowledge as demonstrated by two LAMAR Institute projects. In September 2007 Dan Elliott and Rita Elliott conducted test excavations at the Freetown Cemetery on Grand Bahama Island. This project was divided into two phases. The primary goal was to “ground truth” the results from an earlier Ground Penetrating Radar survey of the Freetown cemetery and its surroundings that was conducted in July, 2007 by Dean Goodman and Kent Schneider.  This phase consisted of creating a detailed topographic map of the site and all above-ground cultural features and excavation of nine 2 m by 1 m test units on a variety of features and non-feature areas.  The second phase of the project was a brief reconnaissance of the Freetown settlement, which is an abandoned settlement located west of the cemetery. This village, which is thought to date to the 1830s and lasting into the 1960s, consists of a series of ruins and archaeological deposits now vegetated in jungle.The results of this research effort were documented in a Freetown Cemetery report.

In September, 2008 Dan Elliott and Rita Elliott taught a Ground Penetrating Radar demonstration class in Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands last week. Eighteen people attended the class, including representatives of the CNMI Historic Preservation Office, other CNMI agencies, utilities, and a private consulting firm. Special thanks to Roy Sablan, Jr. and his staff for making our stay very pleasant. Highlights included field surveys at three historic site locations on the island: a suspected Carolinian cemetery, the old Japanese Jail, and the old Japanese Hospital.

In addition, we took our GPR equipment to Kalabera Cave on Saturday (our day off!) and did a survey of two areas. We were assisted by archaeologists Marilyn Swift, Randy Harper, and Mike Fleming, all of whom (Swift and Harper Archaeological Resource Consultants) are currently involved in an Environmental Assessment of the cave and its surroundings. This represents the first research/educational effort by the LAMAR Institute in the Pacific arena.

Recent collaboration by the LAMAR Institute and the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga at the Scarlett Mound site on Ossabaw Island, Georgia is summarized in a LIPS Report.  This curious earth mound is located on the northern end of this barrier island and this report details the first archaeology work done there. The study included topographic mappings, shovel testing, excavation of one test unit and GPR survey. Even after these preliminary studies, however, the site holds many mysteries.

Educational Outreach 

Since its founding the LAMAR Institute has maintained a strong involvement in developing ways to mesh archaeology with K-12 education curricula. By trial and error our educational coordinators have learned that this is optimally achieved by educating teachers. The LAMAR Institute has co-sponsored teachers workshops on archaeology with the University of Georgia, Department of Anthropology; USDA Forest Service, Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest; the University of South Carolina’s Savannah River Archaeological Research Project, South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, Aiken; Emory University, Decatur; and the Old Governor’s Mansion, Georgia College, Milledgeville. In recent years, these courses have been led by Rita Elliott and included lectures by numerous regional scholars, videos, hands-on activities, selected readings, and field trips to archaeological sites and an archaeological laboratory.

The LAMAR Institute has played an active role in the planning and development of Georgia Archaeology Week and Georgia Archaeology Month. For the 1996 Georgia Archaeology Week, the LAMAR Institute was a major sponsor of the event.  New Ebenezer served as the focal point of the festivities, as highlighted in the poster, shown below, which was distributed to more than 2,000 schools and libraries state-wide.

Rita Folse Elliott was responsible for the development of innovative teaching materials for the 2003 Georgia Archaeology Month. A booklet for educations, authored by Ms. Elliott, was distributed along with copies of a video to schools and libraries throughout Georgia. This project was funded by the Georgia Ports Authority and the work accomplished by Ms. Elliott and others with the private firm of Southern Research Historic Preservation Consultants, Inc., Ellerslie, Georgia. The Society for Georgia Archaeology is the main sponsor Georgia Archaeology Month and Ms. Elliott has continued to develop the archaeological curriculum for Georgia Archaeology Month in the years since 2003. Since 1996, the LAMAR Institute has continued to serve as one sponsor of this event whenever funds permit.

In 2000, LAMAR Institute educators became involved in Fort Frederica National Monument’s “Colonial Classroom” education project.  This unique educational program, led by Ellen Provenzano, offers 4th Graders and their teachers in the Glynn County school system an opportunity for real archaeological experience. More information on this wonderful project can be found at Colonial Classroom and at Shiner’s Trench .

Ellijay Middle School Project 

At the Ellijay Middle School in Gilmer County, Georgia, excavations directed by archaeologists Rita Elliott and Dean Wood and Ellijay Middle School teachers Cindy Zager and Linda Smith revealed a multi-component aboriginal settlement on the school’s athletic field.  Three seasons of excavation were conducted by the Ellijay team. The students’ archaeological field experience was preceded by weeks of classroom study. The teachers, who were recent graduates of a Michael C. Carlos Museum (Emory University)/LAMAR Institute teacher’s seminar, developed creative ways to incorporate archaeological concepts and techniques in the requisite curriculum. The students participated in excavation, artifact cleaning and preliminary sorting analysis. The first two seasons were spent in the school’s athletic field but the final season included a brief visit to a nearby aboriginal site. Reports of these excavations will be available to the public through the Lamar Institute publication series. Meanwhile check out this older paper, which highlights the Ellijay Project, as presented by Rita Elliott to the Society for Georgia Archaeology.

Material Culture Studies

LAMAR Institute researchers have a variety of interests in various material culture types. Gunflints provide one example of an artifact type that can be explored on various dimensions. More information on LAMAR Institute’s gunflint studies may be found by following this link:  GUNFLINTS.

Have You Seen This Battlefield?
October 19, 2014

Caledonia Inspects the Brier Creek Battlefield, Photo by Rob Pavey, Augusta Chronicle, 2014.

Caledonia Inspects the Brier Creek Battlefield, Photo by Rob Pavey, Augusta Chronicle, 2014.

The next time you stare at your milk carton, imagine that that missing child is really a lost Revolutionary War battlefield. Then log onto Kickstarter and support my newest cause–The Brier Creek Story… (link)

Mystery on Tybee Island
October 13, 2014

From the Savannah Morning News:

Looking for Pearls:
Spanish mariners leave mystery on Tybee

By Ben Coggins, Savannah Morning News, October 10, 2014

Do you remember the Uncle Remus story about Brer Rabbit and his misadventures with the silent Tar Baby? One after another of the aggravated Brer Rabbit’s hands and feet got hopelessly stuck until he tricked Brer Fox into getting him loose.
Since 2006, Tybee Island resident Frank Drudi has been captivated by a different sort of Tar Baby — one that is 500 years old and from Trinidad.
When Frank’s neighbor was digging a swimming pool, Frank said he could put the sand from the hole onto his empty lot. When the sand was spread, he found three heavy rough discs, clearly man-made. On the edge of each was an impressed seal that Frank recognized as a Spanish Cross.
That started the research wheels turning. What were these artifacts, dug up barely a hundred yards from the Tybee lighthouse? And what clues did the four letters S-O-C-G in the quadrants around the cross provide?
Daniel Elliott of the Lamar Institute performed an exhaustive archaeological survey of Frank’s lot, now described as the Drudi tract. He used ground-penetrating radar and systematic sampling to look at Frank’s property, but nothing else turned up.
Frank discovered that the discs were made of tar that Spanish mariners of the 16th century used to seal leaks in their ships’ hulls. Tar that came from a huge pitch lake at La Brea, Trinidad, discovered by Columbus in 1498.
From poring over history books and talking to experts on early Spanish exploration of the Southeast coast, Frank has arrived at a persuasive theory of when and how the tar objects came to Tybee.
In 1521, two navigators sailing together out of the Caribbean, under contract to different aristocrats, both claimed land surrounding Winyah Sound near Georgetown, S.C. Claiming land for the crown and the sponsor involved performing a standard ceremonial ritual and recording the event by ship’s notary.
A legal dispute followed over who had rights to explore and settle the vast coastal area. The king of Spain, Charles of Ghent, decided in favor of Luis Vasquez de Ayllon, whose captain had performed the ritual hours ahead of the other claimant.
Having the authority to explore this barely-charted coast, in 1525 Ayllon sent Pedro de Quejo to do further reconnaissance and double-check the desirability of Winyah Bay for settlement. Taking no chances on establishing claims this time, Ayllon instructed Quejo to place stone markers with the king’s name and the date.
Not a single one of those stone markers has been found. But according to Quejo’s logs, his first stop was at latitude 32.0 degrees.
Sound familiar? That’s Tybee.
This means that on May 3, 1525, the first Europeans to set foot on Georgia soil did it on Tybee sand. And the river that Quejo named the Rio de la Cruz on that date is the Savannah River.
Frank figures that, when no stones were around to erect as markers, Quejo formed markers of his own. A composite of sand, grass, and the caulking tar he had on board. And what more natural point for the claim than the location that was later chosen in Oglethorpe’s day for the lighthouse?
In July 1526, Ayllon set sail from Hispaniola with six ships and 600 settlers straight to Winyah Bay. But the mother ship foundered on a sand bar before landing. Many supplies were lost, the area was not as suitable for agriculture as described and there were too few Native Americans with whom to work and trade. So, Ayllon improvised a Plan B.
His expedition sailed south searching for a better location. On Sept. 29, 1526, they established the settlement of San Miguel de Gualdape. Somewhere along the Georgia coast, maybe on Sapelo Sound, and named perhaps for the Guale Indians of the area. Ayllon himself died of illness there. The colony lasted about six weeks before the survivors sailed home, and its site has never been found.
Maybe Frank Drudi’s markers hold a clue. Frank has looked long and hard at these tar babies, trying to coax more answers from them. But like Brer Rabbit, now he’s a bit stuck.
When he heard about the West Chatham Middle School students who were studying early Spanish missions along the Georgia coast, he decided to see if their young minds could bring new eyes and ideas to answer some of his questions. Why haven’t more of these tar objects been discovered elsewhere? What do the letters S-O-C-G mean?
Frank deputized me to carry the tar markers, almost 60 pounds each, like they were Faberge eggs, to show to the students. It was a good move.
The students and their teachers, Mrs. Jacquelin Harden and Mr. Josh Wonders, were very interested to see these old relics that are, so far, one-of-a-kind.
And they offered fresh insights. Samantha Jenkins suggested searching for references to “rough asphalt cylinders” in explorers’ narratives and that the letters may be initials for a church. Francheska Gonzalez suggested that there are more and larger markers nearby and always on the southern shores of their rivers.
Several of the students speak Spanish, so they may discover Spanish-language journals, diaries or records that refer to the markers or the voyages. Regan Gayadeen said she has family in Trinidad and would get them involved to look for similar tar objects in museums and collections around La Brea.
Diamond Folston and Sade Baker had experience making charcoal rubbings of cemetery headstones, so they took rubbings of the Spanish crosses to study more closely. Jack Steuwe commented on the markers’ plasticity, and Nicholas Bergeron on their symbolism.
Some students were intrigued whether the seals stamped in the markers were made ahead of time in Hispaniola or on board the ships as situations changed. All three of the Drudi objects have the same imprint, but in other locations might different letters be used? And maybe we should search for the wooden stampers that were carved to impress the seals — like searching for the branding iron and not the brand.
Could the markers have been moved at all by Indians? Are the letters really S-O-C-G, or are they D-O-C-G? Does C-G stand for Carlos de Gante (King Charles of Ghent) as Frank assumes or for something else? Could the G stand for Gualdape? The S for San or Santa?
Students Cameron Myers, John Winters, and John Tyner lingered to look at the markers from all sides. They pointed out the wood impressions on the undersides and holes that might have been for lifting them. They suggested X-raying the markers to see if they contained medals or coins put in by the seamen who fabricated them.
They suggested that 3-D scans be made of the markers, so that they could be 3-D printed and examined by other researchers. And they suggested that, with high definition, perhaps the wood grain and grass imprints might help tell the story.
Tybee DPW Superintendent Danny Carpenter is equally fascinated. He has found hundreds of artifacts from the Civil War, the Fort Screven era, and even from the lost Martello Tower.
He says, “These tar markers are a Tybee mystery, like the Tybee Bomb. But I think they are far more significant.”
He and Frank are hopeful that the West Chatham students make a breakthrough, crack this Da Vinci code and get the tar babies to reveal their secrets.


For more background information on Frank Drudi’s discovery, read and learn at:

127. Archaeological Reconnaissance at the Drudi Tract, Tybee Island, Chatham County, Georgia. [With Supplement: Identity of the Drudi Objects, 2009]. By Daniel T. Elliott, 2008. (2.6 MB).

Coastal Georgia in the War of 1812
October 8, 2014

Follow this link to view a pdf version of last night’s lecture graphics for my talk on “Coastal Georgia in the War of 1812”:

Words to follow someday…


News from Kettle Creek
October 8, 2014

Kettle Creek Battlefield to develop conceptual plan

(Flash! From The News-Reporter, October 9, 2014)

The Kettle Creek Battlefield Association, Inc. (KCBA) recently signed an agreement for development of a conceptual plan for a Kettle Creek Battlefield Park. The plan would be developed by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, University of Georgia (CVIOG), and was signed by Walker Chewning, president of KCBA and Jere Morehead, president of the university.

[dan says, “Great! The more the merrier.”]

AND this story from October 2nd:

Harley makes donation to help preserve Kettle Creek Battlefield

Archaeology Exhibit Opens at Magnolia Springs/Camp Lawton Site in Jenkins County, Georgia USA
October 7, 2014

PRESS ITEM, October 7, 2014

MILLEN, Ga. (AP) — Civil War artifacts from a former prison are set to go on display at Magnolia Springs State Park near Millen.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources says a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Magnolia Springs History Center is set for Tuesday. The agency says Camp Lawton was built to relieve overcrowding at Andersonville Prison.

Archaeologists and students from Georgia Southern University have been excavating the site since 2009. They’ve found items such as a pipe, coins, a ring, buttons, buckles and stockade wall posts. Some of them will be displayed in the new museum and some will stay at the university.

Magnolia Springs State Park is five miles north of Millen. In addition to the museum, visitors can tour original Confederate earthworks, as well as the springs and boardwalk.

[Elliott notes: I look forward to seeing the museum exhibit. The LAMAR Institute was happy to be part of these discoveries!]

Fort Hawkins Visitor’s Center, Et Cetera
October 1, 2014

Hello World!

Here is a link to a short film produced by the City of Macon for the GRAND OPENING of the Fort Hawkins Visitor’s Center in 2014. Goto:

See if you can find Rita in this movie. Hint: I am not sure whether or not she is in there, but look carefully!

ALSO, hence the Et Cetera in the title of this blogpost, I encourage the curious to visit the LAMAR Institute’s Reports webpage to see new additions to the online library. AND more LIPS [LAMAR Institute Publication Series] Reports are coming very soon!

For reports, visit:

Or if that address is too complicated, goto: and then click on Reports.

The pictures shown below are of the visitor’s center during its construction, along with the latest plan map of Fort Hawkins, which will appear in an upcoming book on Ocmulgee Archaeology by the University of Georgia Press (not sure when exactly). It is an edited volume of papers, by Daniel Bigman, PhD., and my contribution on Fort Hawkins forms one of the chapters. I hope it falls within my price range (and yours)!FortHawkinsDecember2013- (16) FortHawkinsDecember2013- (1) Forthawkinsvisitorscenter-WoodyMarshallMaconTelegraph2-10-14 FortHawkins2014forBigman

Your buddy,

Dan aka “tinky winky”