Undergraduate research projects presented to GAAS

Submitted by Sammy Smith (sammy@thesga.org)

GAAS 2011 Feb 4 student speakers

After the presentations, Dennis awarded each speaker with a GAAS tshirt and a one-year free membership in the society, which is the customary recognition by GAAS for its speakers. Left to right: Dennis Blanton, Chris Glover, Kelly Woodard, Andrew Carlin, and Wes Patterson.

Undergraduate archaeology students affiliated with Georgia State University and Kennesaw State University, and interning at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History have been busy.

On Tuesday, February 8th, 2011, the Greater Atlanta Archaeological Society (GAAS) met in the “big” auditorium at Fernbank Museum of Natural History for its monthly meeting, and four students made informative presentations about their recent investigations at the Glass Site, in south Georgia, to the group.

GAAS President Dennis Blanton introduced the evening’s presentations, saying he began the overall Glass Site project for Fernbank with a goal of public outreach, and that these students have made real research contributions as part of the project’s team. Dennis worked with Terry Powis at Kennesaw State University and Jeffrey Glover at Georgia State University to guide the students.

The fieldwork sought to locate a Spanish mission in south Georgia, but instead have been researching an unexpected, earlier Spanish component that surprised researchers in their first field season. The earlier materials may well be related to the trek of Hernando de Soto and his soldiers and camp-followers northeast from the Tallahassee area through south Georgia in the spring of 1540. Dennis believes that the de Soto group stopped at the Glass Site on the first of April.

The speakers were…

Comparative Study of Lamar Folded Rim Sherds—Chris Glover, Georgia State University

A previous study of Lamar folded rim sherds from the upper Oconee Valley showed that the width of the folded rim increased over time. Lamar is the name given to Native American pottery styles from this late Mississippian era. Chris looked at folded rim widths—and other distinctive features—for over 200 sherds from two sites in the area of the Glass Site, and the Glass Site itself. Chris thinks the upper Oconee pattern also held in south Georgia, but that’s a tentative assessment.

Re-Calibration of the Soto Route Across Southern Georgia using GIS—Wes Patterson, Georgia State University and Fernbank Museum of Natural History

Wes used 19th-century land survey maps showing overland foot trails and compared them to the route of the de Soto expedition proposed by Charles Hudson and colleagues in 1984. Based on archaeological finds and topographical information (especially stream locations) Wes united in geographic information system (GIS) computer software, Wes proposes a somewhat different route that the Hudson team did for the expedition through south Georgia. His route through this part of south Georgia, in general, goes east then north whereas the 1984 Hudson route is more northeasterly.

Imagining the Natural Landscape of Mid-Sixteenth Century Southern Georgia—Kelly Woodard, Georgia State University

Kelly also used a GIS program; she complied soil data and information from the 1805–1833 land survey plats that show the species of trees near the corners of platted areas to fine-tune and develop an understanding of the landscape and natural environment that de Soto wandered into and the native peoples exploited. Kelly’s results indicate that the Native American villages that de Soto’s group visited were located amidst the best agricultural lands and soils in the area.

Estimating the Archaeological Signature of a Soto Entrada Encampment from Documentary Sources—Andrew Carlin, Kennesaw State University

Andrew researched what a de Soto encampment might have looked like and therefore what its archaeological footprint might look like. Andrew hypothesizes that there were three types of camps, and each would have left a different footprint, both in scale and organization. The types were: one-night, extended stay, and winter encampments. In particular, the de Soto group traveled with precious horses (for mounted cavalry) and pigs (which they rarely ate, even if hungry), which would have complicated the layout of the camps, as they would have been kept in protected locations.

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