SAS busy with surveys

Submitted by SAS (706-546-1850)

Southeastern Archeological Services (SAS) has completed a data recovery excavation project and several surveys in Georgia in the past few months. We have current survey work ongoing in Sumter and Lee counties, Pickens County, and Gordon County. Tom Gresham and Rob Benson just completed data recovery excavations on a buried, stratified site on the banks of Salacoa Creek in Gordon County. Because the project will not extend beyond existing right-of-way, our project area was very narrow and small. We excavated eight 2×2-m units to depths of about 1.5 m. About a half dozen clusters of fire-cracked rock were encountered, along with a “normal” range of tools, flaking debris and pottery. Almost all prehistoric components prior to Mississippian are present, including Middle PaleoIndian (we found a fluted, Clovis-like point). We also encountered a cache or cluster of similar bifaces, at least a dozen soapstone sherds and a small, shaped soapstone object. To enhance public outreach, we hosted two tours, one for a primitive technology group, and a day of digging and experimental archeology with local Boy Scouts who we are guiding as they attain the Archaeology merit badge. Geormorphologist Andrew Ivester of the University of West Georgia is working with us to interpret site formation processes at this site, which is on a piece of high ground just below the intersection of two creeks. Scott Jones is working with us on sourcing the chert and cobbles, and he led both tours and directed the experimental archeology project replicating fire-cracked rock.

Jerald Ledbetter recently completed a survey of a proposed bypass of Greensboro, in which 15 previously unrecorded sites were documented. Six of the sites may have archeological research potential. Most of these contain artifacts dating to the late Mississippian period, and probably represent upland Lamar farmsteads.

Chad Braley recently completed a survey of a new alignment of the Bishop bypass in Oconee County. Forty-three archeological sites and a cemetery were recorded. The proposed road is very close to Greenbrier Creek, which partially explains the high density of sites. Ten of the sites may contain significant archeological information. Like the Greensboro sites, most of these date to the late Mississippian period and probably represent Lamar farmsteads. The survey data support earlier hypotheses that Mississippian occupation in this portion of Georgia is late, postdating initial European contact in the mid-sixteenth century.

We are currently conducting two surveys in Gordon County, including at the SR 53 bridge over Salacoa Creek. With the help of geomorphologist David Leigh, Joel Jones located and largely delineated a buried A horizon with Woodland and Mississippian material that is between 45 and 135 cm below surface. A close comparison of modern maps with 1832 land lot survey plats and 1938 aerial photos showed that the creek was shifted over several hundred feet and channelized in the 1930s and 1940s. The plats show numerous Cherokee fields in the land lots containing the project area, and one Cherokee site recorded in 1987 is being further investigated.

In out-of-state news, Rob Benson just completed an Overview of Cultural Resources in the Sumter National Forest of South Carolina for the USFS. Copies are available by writing to Jim Bates of the Sumter National Forest.