GAAS gets Singer-Moye update

Submitted by Lyn Kirkland and Stefan Brannan

GAAS LogoThe Greater Atlanta Archaeological Society is a Chapter of the SGA. Brannan spoke at the Chapter’s March 2013 monthly meeting on March 12th. Read all stories on this website about GAAS activities by clicking here.

“Singer-Moye—the second largest Mississippian period mound center in Georgia that no one has ever heard of”…so said Stefan Brannan in his update on Singer-Moye at the March GAAS meeting. In June over twenty members of GAAS visited the University of Georgia Field School held at the site, where Brannan, Field School Director, took members on a tour. At the March meeting, before updating members on the findings from the summer field work, Brannan gave an overview of the Woodland and Mississippian cultures, and then gave a history of archaeological investigations at the site. This included work in 1956-57 by the late Dave Chase, a much loved member and one of the founders of GAAS, and the late Frank Schnell, in 1967–1972, a friend of many in our Society.

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The site, with eight mounds, is located on the Fall Line in Stewart County, a rural area of Georgia. Located on an upland plateau in an environmentally diverse area, ancient Americans used resources from several different ecotones. The mounds were given to the Columbus Museum by the Singer and Moye families in the 1960s, with the custodianship of the mounds passing to the University of Georgia in 2008. At present the site serves as the archaeology field school for the University.

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In the 2012 field season, UGA conducted a systematic shovel-test survey of the property currently managed by UGA, including plaza and possible residential areas. The tests yielded a relatively large number of ceramics and expanded the current site boundaries to 26 hectares. Brannan is currently undertaking the analysis of the newly collected and legacy archaeological materials to determine the specific historical trajectory of Singer-Moye.

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Brannan shared preliminary results, including that Mound A, the fourth largest mound in Georgia behind mounds at Etowah, Ocmulgee, and Kolomoki, is distinguished by having a clay cap over a large rectangular structure and that the mound orientation was unique. This structure yielded prestige goods such as copper and green stone, suggesting it may have served as an elite residence or corporate structure. Both relative and absolute dating suggest it was part of the final occupational period. It appears to have been intentionally “closed” as opposed to abandoned when the occupants left. Mound D, used during the same period as Mound A, had been previously excavated, and findings seemed to indicate this it was used for communal activities instead of as the location for an elite residence.

Brannan also discussed briefly two house mounds. Mound E, a circular mound, contained a rectangular domicile, and the artifacts consisted of utilitarian pottery items. Mound H has a complex assortment of features, unlike the other structures, with several overlapping structures of differing construction techniques and a wide range of artifacts including utilitarian and prestige items, as well as the only confirmed location of a palisade.

Brannan’s most recent research also indicated that two mounds at the site derived from natural land forms. Also, the site experienced a significant influx of population sometime after AD 1350, a time which coincides with the decline and abandonment of many of the larger and well known regional Mississippian mound centers. At Singer-Moye, there is no evidence of occupation before AD 1100 and it was abandoned sometime around AD 1450.

Read a longer story here about the Singer-Moye site just prior to transfer of ownership of the Singer-Moye mound site from the Columbus Museum to the University of Georgia; the story includes historic black-and-white photos. This shorter article discusses the ownership transfer. Access a free, downloadable primer on Georgia archaeology by clicking here.
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