Full issue as PDF: Spring 2006

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Research articles

St. Catherines Island Archaeological Collection at Fernbank

Submitted by Dennis Blanton (dennis.blanton@fernbank.edu)

Transfer of the St. Catherines Island Foundation and Edward John Noble Foundation Collection of archaeological material to Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta was begun early in 2004. This very large, high quality archaeological collection was amassed during 30 years of island investigation led by Dr. David Hurst Thomas of the American Museum of Natural History. Dennis Blanton joined Fernbank in July 2005 as Curator of Native American Archaeology to manage the collection and develop new programs.

At Fernbank, the St. Catherines collection will anchor a regional archaeology program, serve as the basis for ambitious new exhibits, and provide content for new educational programming. In addition, it will ultimately be managed as a working collection that will support the research of visiting scholars.

Present work with the collection focuses on organizing and housing the massive quantity of material according to curatorial standards. An overview of the island research and recent progress with the collection is presented on a new Fernbank web page.

Also, a fabulous team of volunteers, including many from the Greater Atlanta Archaeological Society membership, have been helping inventory several other large artifact collections that have been donated to Fernbank over the years. The results have been rewarding already as a surprising number of Paleoindian tools from around the state have been identified.

For information about the collection and archaeology at Fernbank please contact Dennis B. Blanton, Fernbank Museum of Natural History, 767 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30307, 404-929-6304.

Georgia Mountains Archaeological Society

Mountains Chapter tests quartz quarry

Submitted by Jack Wynn

Members of the Georgia Mountains Chapter have recently conducted a preliminary test on the newly discovered Hummingbird Hill Quartz Quarry on the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve near Gainesville.

A few months ago, Elachee volunteer “Doc” Johnson recognized a spread of quartz rocks on the lower part of a ridge nose in the preserve as a possible quarry site. He called Elachee Nature Science Center’s CEO Andrea Tempone’s attention to it, and then led chapter advisor Jack Wynn to inspect it. Soon after, Primitive Technologist Scott Jones was invited to examine the site, and with Wynn, plans were made to grid and possibly test the site.

Once the plans were made and SHPO notified, the GMAS members met on Saturday, February 4, to grid the site and begin the test. They decided to do very limited testing on the 20×50-m quarry area, in part because of the steep location. There was concern that digging there might exacerbate the already severe erosion into the Walnut Creek area. It was also expected that a limited amount of data could be retrieved from such a resource area, since it did not show signs of being used for finishing artifacts.

The test team was first composed of Lorraine Norwood, Erin Andrews, Joe Randazzo and his son Joseph Randazzo, supervised by Wynn. They began with a small, 50-cm test unit, more or less in the middle of the site area, and excavated it by 10-cm levels, parallel with the slope. The excavation methods included screening and removing all the stone from each level. The amount of stone there was truly amazing. The first work day, the crew removed nine bags of stone to the lab for washing and identification. Since it all had to be hauled uphill all the way back to the vehicles, the amount and weight of the stone became important.


Joseph and Joe Randazzo, Lorraine Norwood, and Erin Andrews working on the site.

The crew was so stimulated by the project the first day that they returned on Saturday, February 18 to finish the test into the red sandy clay subsoil at about 35 cm below surface. That day, they were joined by David Hughes, Janice and Tom Bagwell, Greg Britt, and site’s discoverer, Doc Johnson. At the base of that level, most of the square was taken up by large quartz boulders, but the crew still removed 5-6 bags of materials. Lab cleaning and analysis was conducted that day by Dan and Diedre Page, Pat LoRusso, and David Hughes.

The club members have begun the washing and examination of the stones removed, but much remains to be cleaned and sorted. They have found a few flaked tools and some bipolar percussion pieces, as well as lots of general shatter. Once it is all cleaned and initially sorted, Scott Jones has agreed to examine it for additional indications of stone working techniques.