Archaeology Month 2010 Recap

Submitted by Tammy F. Herron (TRFOREHA@mailbox.sc.edu)

The Society for Georgia Archaeology’s seventeenth annual Georgia Archaeology Awareness promotion, Archaeology Month 2010, had as its theme Making the Past Come to Life: Exploring Ancient Techniques. Our request for a proclamation designating May as Georgia Archaeology Month was received and acknowledged by the Governor’s office. Several past and present SGA board members and representatives from Georgia’s archaeological community attended the proclamation signing by Governor Sonny Perdue on May 25th at the capitol. Pictured with the Governor left to right: Mike Hunt and Brandon Batt representing Edwards-Pitman Environmental, Inc., Pamela Baughman of the Georgia Department of Transportation, Elizabeth Shirk of the DNR – Historic Preservation Division, Tammy Herron representing the Savannah River Archaeological Research Program, State Archaeologist Dr. David C. Crass of the DNR – Historic Preservation Division, and Sudha A. Shah representing Brockington and Associates.

2010_Gov_signing_proclam_HPD_DNR.jpg

Governor Perdue signs the 2010 Archaeology Month proclamation. (Photo credit: Charlie Miller, Historic Preservation Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources.)

2010_Archaeo_Month_Proclamation_smaller.jpg

2010 Archaeology Month proclamation. Click here to view/download a larger, readable version of the proclamation.

This annual promotion would not be possible without the assistance received from co-sponsors and event sponsors which allows us to offer this program to the public, thereby reaching thousands throughout the state. Our goal of raising public awareness of the importance of our state’s archaeological resources was met through the distribution of 2000 posters, an associated lesson plan, and the education of those attending archaeology month events scheduled throughout the state in celebration of Georgia’s rich archaeological heritage. These events included archaeological exhibits, artifact identification days, archaeology lab open houses, lectures, public archaeology days, children’s stories, and crafts. For the second year in a row, the events brochure and lesson plan were placed on-line in an effort to save on printing and mailing costs, as well as hoping to reach more people through the worldwide web. Posters were distributed to 8th-grade social studies teachers in the public schools, archaeology month co-sponsors, event sponsors, and SGA chapters in late April. We have already received positive comments regarding our lesson plan entitled “Learning Through Archaeology: Exploring Ancient Techniques.”

Packaging day was held on April 26th at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Volunteers logged approximately 50 hours throughout the course of the day as a result of set up, collating, tube stuffing, box filling, mail runs, and clean up. Dennis Blanton, Beth Gantt, Tammy Herron, Kate Jackson, David Kasriel, Lyn Kirkland, Catherine Long, Karen Oates, Leslie Perry, Dot Rascoe, Armondo Tovar, Allen Vegotsky, and Connie White donated their time to this effort. Several these individuals are members of the Greater Atlanta Archaeological Society, and we appreciate their support.

The SGA’s annual gathering for the spring meeting was held in Albany, Georgia on May 14–16, 2010. The Executive Board of the Georgia Council of Professional Archaeologists (GCPA) met in the early afternoon of Friday, May 14th, followed by the general meeting of the GCPA. Later in the afternoon, members of the Executive Board of the Society for Georgia Archaeology held their quarterly meeting. Following the meeting, we enjoyed a tasty cookout at the campground of The Parks at Chehaw. The spring meeting, coordinated by Tammy Herron and Brian Floyd, was held on Saturday, May 15th at The Parks at Chehaw near Albany, Georgia. Tom Gresham and Rick and Sonja Sellers greeted visitors at the registration table. At this station, attendees could also learn more about the Society, view artifacts commonly found in the Central Savannah River Area, learn about the Stallings culture, and visit with Jim D’Angelo to learn about the Fort Daniel site. SGA members could also pick up the Archaeology Month poster and the current issue of Early Georgia to read the latest scoop on archaeological projects around the state. Lynn Pietak and Curtis Booney and Ben and Pamela Baughman manned the kids’ area and educated the youngsters through hands-on activities such as pottery stamping, vessel mending, and making gorgets. Special thanks to Dan and Rita Elliott for driving Abby the ArchaeoBus to the event. Visitors of all ages enjoyed taking a tour of Abby. Dan and Rita reported turning a lot of heads as Abby traveled the highways and byways crossing South Georgia—good publicity for the SGA and archaeology! Did you know that you can follow Abby through her own personal diary and monitor her travels around Georgia?

In striving to explore the ancient lifeways of Georgia’s early inhabitants and further apply their expertise to archaeological fieldwork, Brian Floyd coordinated a wealth of knowledge and talent in the demonstrators that he selected to participate in Saturday’s event. His aim was to target the lesser promoted primitive techniques such as basket making, bone tool production, cordage, edible and medicinal plant use, hide tanning, and so forth—activities that the interested public does not usually get to experience at knap-ins. Brian’s vision was to have the archaeologists and primitive technologists interact throughout the day and examine each station at the end of the day together to concentrate on answering questions often raised as a result of archaeological excavations.

Several demonstrators traveled many miles to share their knowledge, and the Archaeology Month Committee worked tirelessly to make it a fun and educational event for SGA members and the public alike. Although we did not have the huge crowd that we had hoped for, the turnout of approximately 100 people still made the event a success. We would like to extend a big thanks to all who helped make the event possible and to those who came out to join us for their support. Special thanks to Brian for not only coordinating the demonstrators, but for participating as a demonstrator as well. In years past, Brian used to observe primitive technologists Scott Jones and Ben Kirkland at various events and considers them as great mentors. Brian stated, “I used to watch them at the Chehaw powwow back in the early 1990s, and it inspired and educated me in the ways of primitive technology. It really changed my life when I first met those guys. When I demonstrate I always wonder if any one of the people watching me are getting the same inspiration from what I am doing. I hope I am passing on the knowledge and inspiration the same as it was passed to me.” Well Brian, it is our hope that you or perhaps one of the other demonstrators did strike a cord with one of the visitors and perhaps mold his/her future path.

We wish to extend a special thank you to the demonstrators that participated in the event: Nancy Basket: basket making; Jack Boedecker: bone tools; Jackie Briggs: weaving; Carl Etheridge: steatite carving; Brian Floyd: edible and medicinal plants, and hide tanning; Keith Grenoble and Denton Bragg: pottery and Native American cooking; Scott Jones: cordage, stone tool production and hafting, and more; Ben Kirkland: fire-by-friction, flintknapping, atl-atl throwing and more; James Stewart: burn and scrape woodworking; and Sean Taylor: blow darts, flintknapping, and more.

Two interesting and insightful lectures were presented during the mid-afternoon. President Dennis Blanton presented a paper entitled “Learning the Hard Way: An Experimental Native House Construction at Etowah.” Summarizing an experimental archaeology experiment performed by Dwight Kirkland and Brian Floyd, Dwight presented “Charred Flakes: An Experiment to Duplicate Artifacts from a Second Millennium B.C. Fire Hearth.” Thanks so much guys for your willingness to share your research.

Liz Gray, Sales Manager with the Albany Convention & Visitors Bureau, arranged an optional tour highlighting some of the interesting sites around Albany for the group on Sunday, May 16th. Nine eager tourists met at the historic Bridge House, home of the Albany Convention & Visitors Bureau, to begin the tour Sunday morning. Local historian Tommy Gregors led us on an informative stroll along the scenic river walk on the west bank of the Flint River. Luckily, the mulberries were in season, too, and provided a bountiful snack along the way. Tommy then led the group on a tour of the Thronateeska Heritage Center which is comprised of the Heritage Museum, an interactive science discovery center, the state-of-the-art Wetherbee Planetarium, the historic Fryer-Merritt House, an 1857 train depot, brick-lined streets dating to 1912, and a model railroad museum.

2010_Albany_tour_group.jpg

Group photo at Thronateeska Heritage Center (L to R): Aidine Kiernan, Russ and Whit Perrin Wright, Brian Floyd, Dick Brunelle (in front), Tammy Herron, Pam Baughman, Kevin Kiernan, and Ben Baughman.

Following our visit at Thronateeska, we headed back to tour the Bridge House, enjoy lunch, and watch a 12-minute movie about Albany’s history. The Hammack family (4) joined the group, and we were soon headed off on another journey with Liz Gray to tour the 175,000-gallon, 22-foot-deep, open-air Flint RiverQuarium Blue Hole. Aside from learning about the wide variety of fish, reptiles, and plants that inhabit the Flint River watershed, we also enjoyed trying to find all of the birds represented in the Cypress Pond Aviary—a recent addition to the Flint RiverQuarium. We also got to see a rare albino alligator that is currently part of a temporary exhibit on loan from the Museum of Florida History called Alligators: Dragons of Paradise.

2010_Archaeo_Month_Radium_Springs.jpg

Beautiful Radium Springs.

Our final tourist stop was Radium Springs. Did you know that this is one of Georgia’s seven wonders? Better yet, can you name the other six? Radium Springs is reportedly the largest natural spring in Georgia and flows at an amazing rate of approximately 70,000 gallons per minute. The crystal clear blue water is truly beautiful and remains a frigid 68°F year round. I wonder what the Native Americans thought about this place. A large casino once graced the banks above the springs and was the place to be in the early part of the twentieth century. This historic structure was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in recent years. However, severe flooding since that time damaged the building beyond repair such that it had to be demolished. Currently, Dougherty County is working to establish the Radium Springs Botanical Garden at the site and is due to open the gates in the near future.

Months of planning and hard work by the Archaeology Month Committee precedes Archaeology Month each year. The 2010 committee members included Tammy Herron, chairman, along with Pamela Baughman, Catherine Long, and Brian Floyd. Pamela Baughman coordinated the calendar of events and created the e-brochure that was posted on the website. Tammy Herron created the poster and lesson plan, handled meeting arrangements, and coordinated Sunday’s tour. Catherine Long assisted with the lesson plan, distribution, and coordinating with the Albany Convention & Visitors Bureau. Brian Floyd coordinated the primitive technologists for the spring meeting. Publicity was tackled by each of these members, plus President Dennis Blanton. Special thanks to Scott Jones for allowing SGA to use information from his book, A View to the Past: Experience and Experiment in Primitive Technology, to create the poster and lesson plan. We would also like to thank Rob Moon for assisting with graphic design and layout. And last but not least, thanks to Ben Kirkland, Natural Resource Manager at Chehaw, for his assistance in planning and taking part in the event.

Be sure to join us next year as we commemorate the sesquicentennial anniversary of the War Between the States, and thank you for your continued support of archaeology in Georgia!