Archaeology demonstration at the Callaway Gardens Preserve

Submitted by Dean Wood (


Screening at Callaway Gardens Site 9Hs157.

Southern Research, Historic Preservation Consultants, Inc., and the Ida Cason Callaway Foundation held an archaeology demonstration dig in conjunction with the Summer Meeting of the American Council of Engineer Companies/Georgia on June 16th. The ACEC met this year at the Southern Pines Conference Center at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. The demonstration project provided engineers with hands on experience conducting the field and laboratory analysis that would be expected for Section 106 or NEPA compliance Phase One and Phase Two assessment.

Southern Research conducted a Reconnaissance Survey in 1999 of portions of the Preserve at Callaway, a 12,000 acre wilderness tract adjacent to Callaway Gardens. During the reconnaissance we recorded a number of Native American Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian archaeological sites. One of these sites, 9Hs157, was selected for the demonstration project as it was close to the Conference Center, was in an open field and thus easy to work, and had yielded more Native pottery and chert debitage than the other nearby recorded sites.

In 1999, Southern Research excavated eight shovel tests at 20-meter intervals but did not delineate the site. For the demonstration project, we excavated an additional 11 shovel tests at 10-meter intervals filling in the earlier grid. We identified the artifacts in the field, produced an artifact distribution map, and selected a location to excavate a 1 x 1-meter test unit. The test unit was excavated where more pottery sherds were recovered relative to the rest of the site. The engineers and Callaway staff did the work in teams of three to four and each team was supervised by a Southern Research staff archaeologist. As one would expect, the engineers dug precise holes and were diligent in finding all the small artifacts in the screen. The ACEC attendees earned professional development credit hours for participating in the demonstration project and learned how and why archaeologists do what they do in the field.

The 19 shovel tests and one test unit we excavated yielded 35 small unidentifiable sherds, two biface fragments and 49 pieces of debitage in plow zone context. What makes this site unusual is the high percentage of chert debitage recovered compared to quartz and quartzite debitage. The site is located in the Pine Mountain Region of the lower Piedmont where quartz and quartzite sources are abundant and close by. Chert is considered a non-local source from either the Ridge and Valley or the Coastal Plain regions. To find such a high percentage at 9Hs157 is remarkable. For comparison, during recent data recovery of three Native American sites on Palmetto Creek, also in Harris County, we recovered over 900 kg of lithics, and quartz accounted for 99% and chert less than 1% of the collection.

Southern Research staff included Dean Wood, Kay Wood, Susanne Newberry, Wes Mattox, and Christine Meyer. Ms. LuAnn Craighton and Mr. Cory Croft represented the Preserve at Callaway. Thanks to Ms. Gwen Brandon of the ACEC/Georgia for organizing the demonstration.