November 27, 2011


In my continuing account of my epic fall escapades, I will regale you with exciting tales about my visit to a REAL archaeological dig!!! Can you believe it? I actually got to go to a dig for the very first time ever after showing people about archaeology all these years! Yep, there I was at the summit of a hill, probably the tallest hill in all of Macon, Georgia, at the site of Ft. Hawkins. In fact, I got to sit right next to the replica of one of the fort’s block houses for an entire week in late October.

ArchaeoBus FtHawkins 2011 bus fort

Here I am, up-close and personal with the cool blockhouse replica at Ft. Hawkins! [Photo courtesy of Echo Halstead Burrell.]

(Figure 1, Caption, “Here I am, up-close and personal with the cool blockhouse replica at Ft. Hawkins! [Photo courtesy of Echo Halstead Burrell.]”)

Diary, you may not be aware of this, but Fort Hawkins is, as my pal Marty Willett likes to say, “a forgotten fort on a forgotten frontier of a forgotten war”, uh, hmm, I think I got that right. I’ve forgotten how many forgottens there were (sorry, Marty!). Anyway, Diary, you get my point. It’s a super site that not many people know about, in spite of its historical significance. I mean, President Thomas Jefferson established the fort in 1806. And that famous Indian Agent Colonel Benjamin Hawkins was at the fort and used it as a post to trade with Native Americans. In fact, Ft. Hawkins sat right in the middle of the frontier, on the Federal road that led from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans. You can find out more about Ft. Hawkins online here. And there I was, me, Abby the ArchaeoBus, right on that very spot, like a sentinel on a hill, like an archaeology beacon in the night, like a…well, you get my drift.

ArchaeoBus FtHawkins 2011 excavation dan

I picked the absolute best time to be at Ft. Hawkins, because if it wasn’t enough to be surrounded by that amazing history, there was an archaeological dig going on, tours by school kids, and a Halloween Party. The dig was phenomenal. Real Dan, who is president of The LAMAR Institute (and the husband of one of my handlers) was running the LAMAR Institute dig for the Fort Hawkins Commission. The Society for Georgia Archaeology provided some support for the project, hence my presence! Real Dan had several archaeologists working with him, along with a lot of volunteers from Macon and all around the country. I found out more about The LAMAR Institute and its work there online here. The photo at right shows Real Dan at work with a crew of archaeologists and volunteers on the dig. [Photo courtesy of Echo Halstead Burrell.]

I got to see the archaeologists uncover two huge sections of palisade walls. Well, at first I didn’t know what they meant when I heard them say “walls”, because it was just dirt deep underground. But then after listening to them every day I realized exactly what they meant. They found all these spiffy clues in the dirt—like round stains in the soil where posts erected in 1809 rotted, and rectangular stains around the posts that showed where soldiers dug trenches to place the posts. So I got it! The round and rectangular stains WERE the walls, or at least what was left of the wooden posts that made the palisade and the trench around it! Boy, who would have known that dirt could tell you so much about the past if you know what you are looking for and how to record it scientifically!

ArchaeoBus FtHawkins 2011 excavation molds

Some of the crew excavates these cool palisade post stains. Boy that red clay sure looks hard to dig! [Photo courtesy of Echo Halstead Burrell.]

So if that wasn’t enough excitement, my friends Marty (who I mentioned already) and Echo Halstead Burrell, who are the best friends of Ft. Hawkins, set me up every day so that kids and adults could visit me at the site. They were very nice to me and treated me so well there. Echo took these photographs I am showing you, Diary. The students from a nearby Montessori school came by on two days and had a great time visiting me, touring the site, and watching the archaeologists work.

ArchaeoBus FtHawkins 2011 inside bus

Marty keeps the students captivated with some of my hands-on bus activities. [Photo courtesy of Echo Halstead Burrell.]

Then, my last night there, Marty and Echo threw me a great party! (Well, they pretended like it was a Halloween party, but I knew it really was in my honor.) It was really fun because a lot of the kids and their families in the neighborhood around Ft. Hawkins came to visit and got to see me. They also got to roast marshmallows, get candy treats, tour the blockhouse and hear stories around the campfire. It was fun to watch them and the campfire felt quite cozy. You know, it was my best Halloween ever!

ArchaeoBus FtHawkins 2011 pumpkins

Some of my Jack-o-lantern friends sit nearby me for the party. [Photo courtesy of Echo Halstead Burrell.]