Prehistoric community excavated in Spalding County

Submitted by Lynn Pietak (

Edwards-Pitman Environmental, Inc. (EPEI) recently completed Phase III investigations at 9SP161 in Spalding County under the direction of Phillip Quirk. This project was conducted for the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) under a contract with Atkins, Inc. The project was completed in advance of construction for a replacement bridge for State Route 92 over the Flint River at the Spalding/Fayette County line.

EPEI Spalding 01

Excavation in Block 4.

URS had previously undertaken Phase I and II work at the site in 2007 and 2008. EPEI conducted additional testing in 2009, which included a geomorphological study by Keith Seramur. Prior to the start of data recovery, GDOT archaeologists completed a geophysical investigation utilizing ground penetrating radar and magnetometer. Several anomalies identified during this work were later investigated through excavation. Site 9SP161 is located in deep, sandy soils on the first terrace overlooking a back swamp of the Flint River. Due to the sandy soils, Phase III investigation consisted of six hand-excavated blocks of various sizes.

EPEI Spalding 02

After the rains came.

Work commenced in January 2012, and continued until the end of March. Usually digging in the middle of winter is cold and wet work, but this year’s mild temperatures made for quite pleasant fieldwork. There were some issues with heavy rains in March, and portions of the site closer to the river had serious flooding issues.

EPEI Spalding 03

Rock cluster in Block 4.

Fortunately, the majority of the work was completed before the flooding. Thirty-seven features were excavated including posts, pits and many rock clusters, one of which was quite extensive. Phase III work at 9SP161 recovered materials from the Early Archaic through the Middle Woodland. Radiocarbon dates are forthcoming. The Woodland components were mostly confined to the mixed plowzone, but Early-Late Archaic materials were recovered from deposits below the plowzone up to 130 centimeters below surface.

EPEI Spalding 04

Sample of PP/Ks recovered from Block 4.

Analysis of the artifacts and materials from the flotation samples is underway. Jeannine Windham of New South Associates will analyze any faunal remains identified. Leslie Branch-Raymer of Paleobot is conducting the ethnobotanical analysis. It is hoped that data gathered from 9SP161 will provide information regarding Archaic settlement in the upper Flint River basin.

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