Submitted by Stephen A. Hammack (Stephen.Hammack.email@example.com)
On March 5, 2011, Ocmulgee Archaeological Society (OAS) members chose the Shinholser Mounds site on the Oconee River near Milledgeville for the group’s annual winter hike. Member Dr. Bob Cramer (right) made the arrangements with the Thompson family, which owns the site. Family member Tom Wood met the 12 attendees just outside of Milledgeville, served as escort to the property, and gave an extensive tour of several areas of archaeological significance on a cool, rainy day near the end of winter.
This fascinating site is known locally as Indian Island, and contains two mounds dating to the Middle Mississippian Savannah period, although artifacts from the Late Archaic, Late Mississippian Lamar, and Historic Creek Indians have also been recovered by both the family and by archaeological studies performed by the University of Georgia. Evidence of early Spanish trade with the local Indian population has been documented at Shinholser. The site has also been adversely impacted on several occasions by looting. Another site shows that Dalton era and Early Archaic populations were also living nearby as early as 10,000 years ago.
The group saw wild hogs, Mr. Wood’s artifact collection from the area, the two earthen mounds (which are now covered with brush and briars), a 1920s era swimming pool used by a local club during Prohibition, a great view of the Oconee River, and beautiful woods and pastures. During the tour several artifacts were recovered and turned over to Mr. Wood, including a Late Archaic Abbey projectile point and a nearly temperless incised sherd Archaeologist Jerald Ledbetter thinks may be a piece of a Lamar pipe bowl. Mr. Wood’s collection contained numerous Lamar potsherds, points, and a blue trade bead that Archaeologist Dr. Marvin Smith has identified as a Kidd and Kidd (1970) type IIA40 in use from 1580-1780, and probably further evidence of Spanish trade in interior of Georgia during the 17th century. The OAS is very appreciative of the family’s interest in preserving this important part of Middle Georgia’s past, and wishes to thank them for the site tour and for getting to spend a wonderful rainy day along the Oconee River at Shinholser!