Georgia Department of Transportation update

Submitted by Pamela Johnson (pamjohnson@dot.ga.gov)

Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) archaeologists met in September at New Echota State Historic Site in Gordon County with members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) Elder’s Advisory Council and Federal Highway Administration to discuss the proposed bridge replacements and roadway improvements to State Route (SR) 225. Tribal elders and members of EBCI Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) traveled from Cherokee, North Carolina, to New Echota to discuss the proposed project, including the 2003 Traditional Cultural Property study, results of cultural resource surveys, and proposed mitigation measures such as context-sensitive design, archaeological data recovery (including a co-op program to provide Cherokee students an opportunity to participate in the excavations), the development of a landscape plan, as well as additional interpretive initiatives. The elders had the opportunity to discuss the project and contribute their thoughts and preferences regarding project aspects such as the proposed context-sensitive design. In addition to the presentation by GDOT, the elders—many of whom had never before visited New Echota—were given a tour of the historic site by Park Supervisor David Gomez. The meeting offered members of the EBCI, beyond the THPO office, an opportunity to participate in the ongoing consultation efforts between GDOT and the EBCI for the proposed improvements to SR 225. Consultation for the SR 225 project has also taken place between GDOT and the Cherokee Nation, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

In October the Department hosted a two-day workshop entitled “Geophysical Applications in Archaeology.” The workshop was presented by Dr. Tim Horsley who has a Ph.D. in Archaeological Prospection from the Department of Archaeological Sciences, University of Bradford, United Kingdom, and is currently a Research Scientist with the Museum of Anthropology at the University of Michigan and a Visiting Scholar with the Department of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. The workshop’s goal was to present how geophysical methods can be applied to archaeological investigations. Attendees learned the scientific principles of geophysical methods, collected data in the field (using ground-penetrating radar, gradiometer, and resistance meter), and learned the basics of post-processing. GDOT hopes to host a yearly geophysical workshop and expand the class by adding additional days and/or instructors.

In advance of a bridge replacement project on US 17 over the Back River in Chatham County, Tidewater Atlantic Research, Inc. (TAR), conducted underwater archaeological mitigation on a late nineteenth-century barque. Based on collected wood samples, the vessel was most likely constructed in Maine or the Southern Canadian Maritime Provinces. Although the vessel could not be specifically identified, TAR concluded that the vessel was involved in the lumber trade and was also fitted to carry other cargo. At some point in the vessel was condemned and towed into the Back River to be salvaged. In addition to the archaeological data recovery, this project also involved a public outreach component. TAR developed a series of 15 interpretive panels. Each panel tells a different story related to the maritime history of Savannah. The signs will be numbered, creating a trail for visitors along the River Walk.

The Department recently conducted archaeological mitigation on site 9FL174 in advance of the bridge replacement on SR 100 over the Coosa River in Floyd County. Excavations by Southern Research Historic Preservation Consultants, Inc., revealed a multi-component site, with short-term occupations from the late Paleoindian through Middle Woodland. In addition to the archaeological mitigation, Southern Research Historic Preservation Consultants, Inc., also completed a public outreach initiative as part of their contract. An archaeological display was donated to the City of Rome’s public library. The display is aimed at elementary and middle school aged students and consists of three wall mounted panels, a display case filled with artifact reproductions, and teacher handouts.

On November 17, 2008, GDOT’s Terri Lotti and Lynn Pietak of Edwards-Pitman took cadaver dogs out to site 9CK1. The cadaver dogs are to be used to try and relocate the mound through human remains identified during Robert Wauchope’s excavations in 1939. The results of the cadaver dogs survey, the geophysical studies, the aerial photography, and the high definition scanning used at this site will be presented in a paper presented by Ms. Lotti at the Society for American Archaeology meeting this April.