January 2013 GAAS meeting set

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The Greater Atlanta Archaeological Society is pleased to announce that Jannie Loubser will be the speaker at the meeting on January 8, 2013, at the Fernbank Museum Auditorium, which will begin at 6:30PM. Loubser’s talk will be The Stone-Walled Complex within Track Rock Gap, Union County, far northern Georgia.

Johannes (Jannie) Loubser has been doing archaeological and rock art fieldwork since the late 1970s, when he helped excavate various stone-walled villages of Bantu-speaking agro-pastoralists and recording rock paintings of San gatherer-hunters in South Africa. After he received his PhD on the origins and history of the Venda-speaking agro-pastoralists from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1989, he obtained a post-graduate diploma in rock art conservation and management from the University of Canberra and the Getty Conservation Institute in Australia. Loubser started a Department of Rock Art at the South African National Museum before he emigrated with his wife and two daughters to Georgia in the United States of America at the end of 1993. As a Principal Investigator at New South Associates in Atlanta, Loubser has conducted extensive CRM-related archaeological fieldwork in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Loubser has also done rock art-related fieldwork in Alberta in Canada, Arizona, Baja California in Mexico, the Bolivian Andes, California, Connecticut, various Hawaiian islands, Idaho, Jamaica, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Tanzania, Texas, Utah, Washington State, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. In 2006, Loubser started his own consultancy firm, known as Stratum Unlimited, LLC, and continues to do archaeological and rock art work for a wide variety of clients in different parts of the United States and elsewhere in the world.

At the request of the Track Rock Gap Alliance, the Georgia Forest Watch gathered the necessary funds to conduct limited test excavations of a stone-feature complex on a steep westward-facing slope immediately southeast of Track Rock Gap, Union County, far northern Georgia. Stone piles and stone walls were first reported by early Euro-Americans traveling through the gap in the 1830s and again in the 1850s, so the Track Rock Gap Alliance wanted to archaeologically determine if the stone features do indeed pre-date the historically observed ones. A nearby petroglyph boulder complex was referred to as the “Printed” or “Branded” place of Judaculla, or the “Master of Game,” by Cherokees in the late 1700s. Cherokees, Creeks, and a variety of other Native American Indian groups living in the southeastern United States have identified stone piles, such as the ones found within Track Rock Gap, as commemorative markers of Indians killed in battle.

The excavation of two test units in 2002, one in a meandering stone wall and the other within a massive stone pile, revealed that both the wall and the stone pile are prehistoric in origin. Whereas OCR assays for the soils from the base of the wall are a thousand years old, a Connestee ceramic sherd and ceramic smoking pipe fragment from a stone-lined feature within the center of the stone pile are probably around a thousand years old too. The concentration of dark soil within the oval-shaped stone-lined feature is reminiscent of human interments found below similar-looking stone piles elsewhere in Georgia. Due to strong suspicion that the stone-lined feature contained human remains, excavation was terminated and all recovered items were returned. The absence of artifacts and features elsewhere on the site, even within tree tip-ups and erosional gullies, strongly suggests that the place was not used for habitation purposes. The closest fit of the mapped and excavated remains are with the stone-walled complexes that Indians erected to honor and communicate with spirits of the dead.

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