Submitted by Lyn Kirkland, GAAS member and SGA Board Member
Ever wonder what Atlantans threw away 100 years ago? Well, soon we will know as a result of The Phoenix Project overseen by Georgia State University (GSU).
At the Greater Atlanta Chapter (GAAS) meeting on February 12th at Fernbank Museum, members experienced a hands-on encounter with Atlanta’s dishes, bottles, and tools from trash pits over a hundred years ago. GAAS members sorted through a handful of the 469 boxes of artifacts composing the MARTA collection, a study dubbed The Phoenix Project: Resurrecting the MARTA Archaeological Collection and Atlanta’s Past. The artifacts, collected in the 1970s during the MARTA rail line installation, are housed at Georgia State University (GSU). (For background, see related article “GAAS February meeting: MARTA archaeology).
Dr. Jeffrey Glover and his students at GSU are undertaking the herculean task of studying and interpreting the artifacts. GAAS volunteers, coordinated by Dr. David Noble, are working with Dr. Glover and students in the GSU archaeology lab on Thursday afternoons to rebag the artifacts. Dr. Noble proudly reports that thus far members have made it through over 100 boxes of artifacts.
At the meeting 6 or 7 more boxes were completed. Dr. Glover and his archaeology students arranged 4 tables where, under their supervision, members removed artifacts from 30+ year old paper bags and placed them in archival quality plastic bags. The artifacts brought to the meeting were predominantly kitchen condiments, medicines, wine and beer bottles, crockery, and folk pottery. Many of the bottles came from a location referred to as the Edgewood dump (9DA89).
Dr. Glover opened the meeting by showing 1970’s photos of the excavations in progress, as well as maps of the MARTA routes, noting the excavations sites. GSU has applied for a National Endowment for the Humanities grant for the study. Glover anticipates numerous graduate studies on the collection and he is confident that the collection will provide a great opportunity for public outreach and education.