Archaeology Month 2009 Recap

Submitted by Tammy Herron and Betsy Shirk (forehand@sc.edu or b.shirk@comcast.net)

Archaeology Month Proclamation SigningThe sixteenth annual Georgia Archaeology Awareness promotion, Archaeology Month 2009, had as its theme Mounds in Our Midst: Monuments of Prehistoric Culture in Georgia. Our request for a proclamation designating May as Archaeology Month was received and acknowledged by the Governor’s office in March. A number of board members/officers of SGA and Archaeology Month co-sponsors attended the proclamation signing by Governor Sonny Perdue on April 2. Those in attendance included: Tom Lewis, Ryan Kennedy, Joe Joseph, Betsy Shirk, Ray Luce, Dan Elliott, Jim Langford, Carolyn Rock, Dennis Blanton, and Tammy Herron. Archaeology Month ProclamationThe 2009 Archaeology Month committee members included Betsy Shirk (co-chair), Tammy Herron (co-chair & lesson plan), Pam Johnson (events), Catherine Long (lesson plan), Mary Beth Reed & Tracey Fedor (poster), Dennis Blanton (program), and Stephen Hammack (meeting arrangements).

In order to make this month-long celebration of Georgia’s rich archaeological heritage possible, the SGA relied on monetary and in-kind contributions from co-sponsors and event sponsors to make this program accessible to the public thereby reaching thousands through this annual promotion. Educational materials along with the archaeology month poster were once again distributed statewide to public middle schools, event sponsors, and the archaeology award winners, albeit with a different twist this year.

Tammy Herron and Catherine Long prepared the lesson plan with a focus on the Etowah Mounds site. We would like to thank Debbie Wallsmith and Adam King for their assistance and contributions to this project. The lesson plan was posted on the SGA website rather than paying for the cost of printing and additional weight in the mailings. New South Associates formatted the document for the website and prepared an attractive flier to include with the posters advertising the link on the SGA website. Special thanks go to Mary Beth Reed and Tracey Fedor for their efforts and attention to detail in making this aspect of the lesson plan possible.

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Scenes from Packaging Day

Packaging day

In a further effort to cut production and distribution costs, the brochure listing various events taking place around the state was transformed into an e-brochure by Pam Johnson (now Pam Baughman). This e-brochure was distributed electronically to the SGA officers/board members, chapters for which there was contact information, CRM firms, event sponsors, libraries, museums, and to the Georgia Council of Professional Archaeologists. The events were also listed on the SGA website. Throughout the state, 16 events and/or lectures were offered, not including ongoing events. Over 2,000 people attended these programs to learn more about archaeology in Georgia.

Once again, we asked Mary Beth Reed to supervise the design and printing of the archaeology month poster. Many thanks to Mary Beth and to the graphics design artist Tracey Fedor for creating an awesome poster! We hope that the information provided on the back of the poster will serve to educate Georgians for years to come. Topics addressed included Georgia Mounds, Noninvasive Archaeology, Preservation of Mound Sites, Resources for Learning More, and Places to Visit. In previous years, the poster was mailed to SGA members; however, due to the rising cost of postage, the decision was made to have the poster available for pick up at the Spring Meeting—another great reason to attend the meeting!

A press release was sent to SGA chapters and to the Historic Preservation Division (HPD) in mid-April. Chapters were encouraged to have the release printed in their local newspaper and asked to report back to SGA Vice President Catherine Long. Information about archaeology month was included in the April 18–24, 2009 issue of HPD’s online newsletter, Preservation Georgia Online, and the Spring Meeting was listed in the preservation events calendar.

Packaging Day—the day when the fruits of our labor all come together—was held at the office of New South Associates in Stone Mountain on April 30. Over 40 volunteer hours were necessary to package and distribute the materials. Those who donated their time to this effort included Mary Beth Reed, Betsy Shirk, Justin Byrnes, Saddana Singh, Tammy Herron, Catherine Long, Cathy Blanford, and Scott Morris.

The annual Spring Meeting was held on May 16 at Wesleyan University in Macon with a crowd of 103 in attendance. An interesting array of presentations was compiled by President Dennis Blanton who was in charge of coordinating the program for the day. While the majority of the presentations focused on the archaeology of mound sites throughout the state, the audience also received an update on the preservation efforts at the Fort Daniel site in Gwinnett County and learned about the documentation of the Flat Rock African-American Cemetery in DeKalb County. Presenters included Kevin Kiernan, Dennis Blanton & Inger Coxe, Tom Whitley, Keith Stephenson & Frankie Snow, Tom Pluckhahn, Jim D’Angelo, Adam King, Scot Keith & Dean Wood, Jared Wood, Mark Williams, and Jeffrey Glover & Georgia State University students. Karen Smith and Keith Stephenson displayed a poster entitled “Analysis of Vessels from the Shelly Mound in Pulaski County, Georgia” as well. Stephen Hammack is to be commended for coordinating all the local arrangements, including hitting the pavement soliciting coffee and refreshments for the meeting.

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Spring meeting scenes

The highlight of the day was the long-awaited unveiling of the ArchaeoBus (A.B. or Abbey for short), following the list of presenters. The rain ceased just in time for this special occasion. If you were not there, you missed a real treat! As Rita Elliott spoke about the project, Dan Elliott and Ellen Provenzano removed the tarp unveiling the beautiful design on the exterior of the bus. Tom Gresham christened Abbey with a bottle of champagne, and President Dennis Blanton blessed the vessel by placing a bough of bamboo on the front bumper. Dan Elliott turned the crowd into a kazoo band, door prizes were presented, refreshments were enjoyed, and everyone finally got to venture through the Archaeobus to see the incredible exhibits on display. Hats off to Rita, Tom, and the members of the Archaeobus committee for all of their hard work in making this “pie in the sky” dream become a reality. We know that as Abbey hits the streets of Georgia, more and more people will become aware of the importance of archaeology and the preservation of historic sites across the state.

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Scenes from the Archaeobus unveiling

Those who were brave enough to wait out the rains Saturday evening and night and face the mud and biting insects on Sunday morning received another special treat. Approximately 25 courageous individuals hiked into the swamp under the leadership of park rangers from Ocmulgee National Monument to tour the Lamar Mounds and Village site. What an adventure and a privilege to see these two mounds dating to the Mississippian period and to learn more about the builders and inhabitants of the site. Did you know that the spiral ramp leading to the summit of the Mound B is the only one known in existence?

Once again, the SGA reached thousands through its Archaeology Month program! We realized our goal of raising public awareness of the importance of our state’s archaeological resources through the distribution of posters and educational materials and the education of those attending the archaeology month events that celebrate our state’s rich archaeological heritage.