Archive for the ‘D’Estaing’ Category

Savannah Needs Archaeology!
June 19, 2016

Article from Savannah Morning News, June 18, 2016:

Petition urges protection of Savannah’s buried past
‘Archaeological ordinance’ would require builders to consider historic remnants

Within a city block-sized hole immediately north of downtown’s Drayton Tower apartment complex, excavators have been moving earth deep below the surface to make way for a new hotel. The project is just one of multiple developments underway or pending in Savannah’s Historic District, now that construction activity has picked up after the 2008 recession.

The renewed building activity has recently revived a decades-long effort to protect the city’s underground historic resources.

Archaeologist Phillip Ashlock said seeing the Drayton Street hotel development was a motivating factor behind an online petition he recently posted, which urges the city to adopt an archaeological ordinance.

The large hole in the Historic District, just west of Colonial Park Cemetery, was another reminder that Savannah has no archaeological requirements in place for city or private projects, Ashlock said.

The goal of the petition is to garner support for building requirements that would help prevent the loss of historic resources, Ashlock said, in addition to persuading the city to hire an archeologist who would coordinate preservation efforts. His aim is not to stop development, Ashlock said, but to make sure there is a review process for developers to follow to preserve and document historic sites.

“The past doesn’t belong to anybody,” he said. “We’re stewards of what came before us, and it’s our responsibility to take care of it.”

No ‘champion’

As of Friday afternoon, Ashlock’s petition on was more than halfway toward meeting his goal of 1,000 signatures.

The petition is raising awareness about the issue as the Chatham County-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission creates an incentive for developers to voluntarily conduct archaeological studies.

Under the policy, developers that agree to perform studies for large-scale projects would be permitted to build an additional story beyond the area’s height limits. Four percent of the project’s cost, with a cap of $500,000, would have to go toward archaeology, outreach and education.

The incentive approach is a change in direction after an attempt about four years ago to develop an archaeology ordinance failed to move forward, said Ellen Harris, MPC director of urban planning and historic preservation. Options considered at the time varied from only requiring archaeological assessments for public projects to also mandating that private developers conduct evaluations, with potential incentives to offset additional costs.

The reasoning behind the ordinance was explained in a planning commission memo that said large segments of the underrepresented community — such as slaves, women and immigrants — could be more thoroughly understood through archaeology. Also, 95 percent of the area’s past is considered prehistoric and archaeology remains the only effective means of studying the 13,000-year-old heritage, the memo stated.

Archaeology helps tell the story of the people who built the buildings, Harris said.

“That story isn’t told in the structure anymore,” she said.

That abandoned 2012 endeavor followed a previous failed attempt in the late 1980s. At that time, the planning commission approved an ordinance that would have established an archaeological review policy for city projects, in addition to prohibiting the removal of artifacts from city-owned lands.

The ordinance was never approved by the mayor and aldermen, however.

“We just haven’t had a champion at the city council level for it,” Harris said.

With a new council in place, the issue could be brought back for consideration.

Savannah Alderman Bill Durrence, who represents the downtown Historic District, said last week that he was surprised to learn the city does not have an archaeology ordinance in place. The lack of a policy was something he would look into, Durrence said.

“That’s kind of odd, considering our history,” he said.

Underground stories

Most people in Savannah have no idea the city does not have an archaeological ordinance, either for city or private projects, said Rita Elliott, education coordinator and research associate with the Lamar Institute archaeological nonprofit. Elliott said she has been supporting the effort to “get the ball rolling” for implementing protections for 30 years, but that the lack of community awareness to the issue has played a part in the planning commission’s failed attempts to get regulations enacted.

“I think they need public support,” she said.

The false perception that archaeology and development can’t coexist is another barrier to an ordinance, said Laura Seifert an archaeology professor at Armstrong State University. Archaeology would just be another component of the historic review process, Seifert said, and the cost and time it takes could be built in if developers know their responsibilities at the start.

“If there is good planning, it shouldn’t be a problem,” she said.

Certain projects that receive state or federal funding are required to conduct archaeological studies. That requirement was why Chatham Area Transit had to have a site evaluation performed in 2012 when it was building a transit center on Oglethorpe Avenue west of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The archaeologists for that project evaluated two brick wells found on the site, which were believed to date back to the 18th century. The excavation work uncovered artifacts from the 1700s, as well as ceramic shards dating back an estimated 1,500 years, said the project’s archaeologist, Angus Sawyer. More artifacts would likely have been discovered if it wasn’t for the damage caused to the site by the construction of a bus station there in the early 1960s, Sawyer said. Now more than 50 years later, Sawyer said, that damage continues throughout the city.

“There is a story under Savannah that is being lost piecemeal,” he said.

Digging versus archaeology

Historic artifacts are discovered regularly during construction projects. Recently, workers dug up about 50,000 19th century bricks hand-crafted by slaves, known as Savannah Greys, during the construction of a hotel on the south side of River Street at MLK.

A stoneware jug dating back to the early 19th century was also recently discovered during the construction of a ferry shelter on River Street north of City Hall.

The handle was broken off by machinery during the project, but the rest of the jug is intact and in the city’s possession after Luciana Spracher, Savannah’s library and archives director, heard about the discovery and rushed down to claim the artifact.

“I’m not sure what would have happened if I hadn’t found out about it,” Spracher said.

However, Ashlock said the discovery of an artifact is not the same as determining the historic object’s story.

“Context is very important,” he said. “Digging is different than archaeology.”

Savannah would not be the first city to adopt protections for its buried past. Other governments that have adopted archaeological ordinances include St. Augustine, Beaufort County, and Hilton Head.

Alexandria, Va. has one of the best models, Harris said.

That city’s archaeological protection code requires the evaluation of a project on a case-by-case basis. The developer is only required to hire an archaeological consultant to conduct research after it is determined there is potential for archaeological resources to be impacted.

‘Careful’ crafting

Local architect Patrick Shay said requiring some sort of historic investigation makes sense, but that an archaeological ordinance would have to be carefully crafted so it doesn’t make it impossible for development projects to move forward.

“It can get in the way of people using their property the way they want to,” Shay said. “It depends on how it’s worded, but it’s got merit.”

Shay’s firm designed the Rockbridge Capital hotel now being built along River Street, where the Savannah Grey bricks were found. An ordinance requiring work be halted in the middle of a project when such discoveries are made could be problematic for the developer, Shay said.

“If the rules are too strict, it can make it unlikely it is reported, frankly,” he said.

Jim Schrim, senior vice-president of real estate for Rockbridge, said during the project’s recent groundbreaking that the historic bricks would be cleaned and reused at the hotel.

Shay’s firm also designed the cultural arts center the city plans to build directly west of the downtown Civic Center. The arts center site at Montgomery Street and Oglethorpe Avenue is where a three-story private residence known as the Wetter House previously stood from about the mid-19th century to 1950. Noted for the ornamental iron railings that ran along the balconies circling the first and second floors, the house was torn down to make way for a used-car dealership and auto repairs.

The city decided not to conduct any further archaeological studies for the arts center project, since a previous survey was performed about 16 years ago when the site was being considered for the CAT transit center, according to city officials. While a full-scale excavation was not performed, an examination of a limited area on the site failed to locate any significant features and further study was not recommended, according to the survey report.

While it won’t be the same as archaeology, Shay said there are plans to investigate the site when the former parking lot’s concrete surface is torn up for the project.

With construction set to begin this summer, the arts center is among the millions of dollars worth of projects expected to soon break ground. In addition, developer Richard Kessler has announced plans to begin construction next month of an estimated $250 million hotel project along West River Street.

Without an ordinance in place, the revitalized building activity can mean the death of archaeological sites, Elliott said.

“When the source is destroyed, you don’t have that history anymore,” she said.

YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION: 18th Century Conflict Archaeology in the Savannah River Watershed of Georgia and South Carolina.–with apologies to J.L.
October 12, 2015

Dan at Boston Public Library in a RESTRICTED AREA, December 2014

Dan at Boston Public Library in a RESTRICTED AREA, December 2014

From Connect Savannah, “Lecture: You Say You Want a Revolution
When: Tue., Oct. 13, 6:30 p.m.
This lecture, part of a series by the Coastal Heritage Society about the American Revolution, will examine the Battle of Savannah from an archaeological perspective.

The Savannah History Museum
303 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Savannah-Downtown
phone 912-651-6840

AND from DoSavannah:

Dan and Rita Elliott from the LAMAR Institute will present “You Say You Want a Revolution: 18th Century Conflict Archaeology in the Savannah River Watershed of Georgia and South Carolina,” which explores the Battle of Savannah from an archaeological perspective, along with other Revolutionary War battles in the area and the archaeology, and how they are all inter-related. The lecture takes place in the theater at 7 p.m., with refreshments served at 6:30 p.m. Free and open to all. Learn more at
Tuesday October 13, 2015 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Savannah History Museum Auditorium (303 MLK Jr. Blvd.)

And From

Revolutionary Perspectives 2015: DANIEL ELLIOTT & RITA ELLIOTT

On October 13th, DANIEL ELLIOTT & RITA ELLIOTT from the LAMAR Institute will explore the Battle of Savannah from an archaeological perspective! Lectures begin at Savannah History Museum at 7:00pm with a preceeding reception starting at 6:30pm.

YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION: 18th Century Conflict Archaeology in the Savannah River Watershed of Georgia and South Carolina.

DANIEL ELLIOTT, M.A., R.P.A., has 38 years of experience in historical archaeology. He has served as president of the LAMAR Institute since 2000. Mr. Elliott is an expert on the archaeology and history of the Savannah River watershed having working throughout the region since 1979. His expertise in battlefield archaeology has developed since the late 1980s and he has explored battlefields and fortifications in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Puerto Rico, Saipan, South Carolina, the Virgin Islands, and Virginia. He has directed archaeological research projects on the Revolutionary War sites of Carr’s Fort, Fort Morris, Kettle Creek, New Ebenezer, and Sunbury, Georgia, and provided expertise on the study of the Battle of Brier Creek. He is currently finalizing a battlefield survey report on the Battle of Purysburg and Black Swamp, South Carolina, through a National Park Service American Battlefield Protection Program grant. Mr. Elliott also directed multiple historical research projects throughout Ireland, Scotland, and England, as well as in archives and repositories throughout the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean.

RITA FOLSE ELLIOTT, M.A., R.P.A. is the Education Coordinator and a Research Associate with The LAMAR Institute. She earned an M.A. in Maritime History and Underwater Research from East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. She is an archaeologist, exhibit designer, and former museum curator. She has 30 years of archaeological experience in 13 states, the Caribbean, three U.S. territories, and several countries. Ms. Elliott led crews in the archaeological discovery of the 1779 Savannah Battlefield. She authored over 80 monographs and articles, and served as a guest editor and reviewer. She has sat on committees for museum and archaeology organizations at the state, regional, and national level and is former Vice Chair of the Georgia National Register Review Board. Ms. Elliott was named an Honoree by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation/Georgia Commission on Women, and received the Joseph Caldwell Award for Georgia Archaeology, the Georgia Governor’s Award in the Humanities, and a life-time achievement award in archaeology education from the Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution.

This project is supported by the Georgia Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities and through appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly.……

[Rita and I hope that you can make it to the lecture. We will post our presentation online at at a future date. Most of the archaeological work described in our lecture was funded by the National Park Service, American Battlefield Protection Program and Preserve America Program and the usual disclaimers apply. Thanks also our other supporters to Cypress Cultural Consultants, LLC, the City of Sylvania, the U.S. and Georgia Departments of Transportation, Coastal Heritage Society, Kettle Creek Battlefield Association, Plum Creek Foundation, The LAMAR Institute, Southeastern Archeological Services, Bruker Corporation and many private individuals for making it all possible.]

Rita at work, December 2014

Rita at work, December 2014

Dynamic Duo? Smash! Bang! Pow! %#&@!
November 11, 2014

Rita's Lifetime Achievement Award in Archaeo-Education

Rita’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Archaeo-Education

Dan's Lifetime Achievement Award in Archaeology

Dan’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Archaeology

Rita Folse Elliott and Daniel Elliott both were recognized by the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution at Its Revolutionary War Roundtable held in Washington, Georgia on Saturday, November 8, 2014. Rita was given an award for her lifetime of service as an Archaeo-Educator and Dan was given an award for a lifetime of service as an Archaeologist. Both were bestowed with this rank by the presentation of elegant golden gorgets with the appropriate engraving. Truly this is a great honor for two of The LAMAR Institute’s research team!

Trip uncovers records of Revolution-era Georgia – | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports
January 2, 2014

Trip uncovers records of Revolution-era Georgia – | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports.


Great New Book Out! particularly Chapter 11.
November 1, 2012

Rita Ann Veronica Folse Elliott, M.A., R.P.A., G.C.P.A. has yet another publication under her garter. It is an edited volume by Todd Andrlik, entitled “Reporting the Revolutionary War: Before It was History It was News”. On sale now at and other fine book vendors. Follow this link:

Reporting the Revolutionary War

On Sale Starting November 1, 2012

The History Underneath
May 8, 2012

The History Underneath.

The LAMAR Institute is proud to be a co-sponsor of the upcoming discussion on Archaeology in Savannah on May 12, 2012 (2PM) at Trinity Methodist Church on Telfair Square. Interested folks may wish to attend.

The pictured Rita Elliot looks a lot like a Rita Elliott that I know.

Savannah’s Revolutionary War Discoveries | WSAV TV
February 2, 2011

Savannah’s Revolutionary War Discoveries | WSAV TV.

An earlier Civil War battle in Savannah, 1779
January 14, 2011

On October 9, 1779 American and British armies clashed on the west side of Savannah, Georgia. The armies and their allies, including Haitian, Irish, Scottish, German, African-American, Polish, and Danish officers and private soldiers, engaged in a deadly conflict that proved to be one of the costliest for the Americans in the American Revolution. The war in the South was pretty much a civil war, as neighbors split between Patriots and Loyalists. Savannah contains the forensic evidence of this battle, as unearthed by archaeologists. Come hear this story on February 1, 2011 in Savannah. The LAMAR Institute is proud to be one of the sponsors of this important work.

Archaeology Press Release January 14 2011by Savannah Under Fire on Friday, January 14, 2011 at 5:35pm

What ever happened to all that Revolutionary War archaeology being done in Savannah? What did archaeologists discover? How can people who live, work, and play in Savannah and Chatham County become involved with archaeological sites? Can preserving sites help the area’s economy and quality of life? Come to an archaeology presentation and public meeting Feb. 1, 2011 to find out and to offer suggestions. Coastal Heritage Society will reveal Revolutionary War discoveries in Savannah stemming from the two “Savannah Under Fire” projects conducted from 2007-2011. The projects uncovered startling discoveries, including trenches, fortifications, and battle debris. The research also showed that residents and tourists are interested in these sites. Archaeologists will describe the findings and explore ways to generate economic income and increase the quality of life of area residents. Following the presentation the public will be invited to offer comments and suggestions about such resources. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to provide input. The meeting is sponsored by the Coastal Heritage Society, through a grant from the National Park Service, American Battlefield Protection Program. It is free and open to the public. Time: 6-7 p.m. Location: Savannah History Museum auditorium, 303 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Savannah, Georgia (same building as the Visitors’ Center on MLK). Date: Feb. 1, 2011. Thanks!!