Abby and SEAC 2018

Dear Diary,

I am now rested from my recent, exciting visit to the second largest city in Georgia! Yep, that would be Augusta, Georgia, located just across the Savannah River from South Carolina. As it was my first visit to Augusta, I was happy to learn more about it. Did you know, Diary, that Augusta was named after Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha? She was the mother of British King George III. (Yeah, the one that many American colonists came to loathe.) But at the time Augusta, Georgia was established in 1736, no one was thinking of revolting against Great Britain and becoming independent. Anyway, Diary, Augusta has a rich past, beginning with Native Americans from at least 12,000 years ago, through its colonial history and more recent past.

Augusta sits on the fall line, the place where the flat coastal plain meets the hilly piedmont. The fall line helped attract Native Americans to the environment’s diversity. It also attracted European settlers to use the falls along the rivers for powering grist, saw, and textile mills, and for other industries. Towns such as Augusta that were established along the fall line could prosper from shipping, as the fall line was the highest point upstream that large vessels could travel. Goods had to be removed at this point and loaded onto smaller water craft or wagons, which entailed many support services and businesses. This helped Augusta become a main market for goods as well as for the unfortunate trade in enslaved Africans and African-Americans. Many of the enslaved were sent into the piedmont areas north of Augusta to work cotton plantations. Both the American Revolution and the American Civil War touched Augusta. During the latter, the town housed the main powder works for the Confederacy. Today Augusta is known for the Masters Golf Tournament that it hosts annually, the U.S. Army base Fort Gordon, and as the home of legendary singer James Brown.

But really, Diary, I did not venture to Augusta JUST for its interesting history. Nope. I was on a mission. You see, The Southeastern Archaeological Conference (SEAC) invited me back to its annual meeting, which happened to be in Augusta in November of this year. Apparently I was so popular at the SEAC meeting in Athens two years ago, that they wanted me back again! AND, it was the 75th meeting of SEAC – a momentous occasion that required the presence of yours truly! Of course I can understand why they wanted me there, but nonetheless I was humbled by the invitation.

It was grand to see archaeologists again and some of my old friends. I had a primo spot at the James Brown Blvd/9th Street Circle, adjacent to the Marriott Conference Center and the Augusta Riverwalk (Figure 1). It doesn’t get any better than that, does it? I have to say that being so colorful; I really stood out against the brick buildings (Figure 2). It was a chilly, but thankfully sunny day for my many helpers who manned the four tables of interactives outside (Figures 3, 4, 5). Thanks to all of them including, Rhianna Bennett, Beth Gantt, Tom Gresham, Karen Medina-Lomba, Lori Thompson, Jenna Tran, Lauren Walls, Anne Dorland, Will Britz, Jared Wood and my old handler Veronica. And thanks to the anonymous hardworking folks who also volunteered. Jenna Tran, Susan Olin, and Scot Keith helped me get to Augusta and back, which is no small feat! Important ground support was provided by Joel Jones, Kathy Mulchrone, Gisela Weiss Gresham, and Dan Elliott. And special thanks to my hostesses and host Karen Y. Smith, Tammy Herron, Keith Stephenson and the other fine SEAC folks for inviting me and ensuring key logistics, and thanks to the Marriott staff for assistance!! And a shout out to our raffle winner, Ashley Wilson, who won copies of Frontiers in the Soil archaeology cartoon book and teachers manual, and assorted archaeology journals. Congrats, Ashley! Thanks to Amanda Thompson, Keith Stephenson, Dan and Rita Elliott, and The Society for Georgia Archaeology for making the raffle possible.

In closing, I must say that SEAC participants, homeschoolers, and the Riverwalk passers-by all gave me high praise (Figures  6, 7 ,8 ). Diary, I don’t think they were just being nice! Modesty prevents me from telling you all the fabulous things they said about my activities and good looks. Suffice it to say, I think they enjoyed the experience (Figures 9, 10). I sure did enjoy my visit to Augusta and another outstanding SEAC! Let’s hear it for archaeology!

Figure 1. Here I am, Abby the ArchaeoBus with my tables of activities, between the trees and soothing fountain.

Figure 2. I sure make the building less drab, don’t I?

Figure 3. Decoding palynology, one pollen grain at a time!

Figure 4. Are they puzzled by the sherd puzzle?

Figure 5. Hands-on activities next to the Augusta Riverwalk.

Figure 6. Recreating stamped pottery designs.

Figure 7. Visitors get a little assistance with the botanical boards.

Figure 8. Nothing beats a heart-to-heart conversation about archaeology at the ArchaeoBus!

Figure 9. Checking out the archaeo-astroturf near the entrance.

Figure 10. Who says learning can’t be fun?