Our DNR service responsibilities are set out in Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.)12-3-53 et seq. and O.C.G.A. 12-3-80 et seq. Our primary duty is to carry out surveys of DNR-administered lands. We conduct between fifty and seventy-five such reconnaissance-level surveys each year across the state.
However, we don't stop there. We have used our surveys to develop close relationships with our Parks and Historic Sites Division and Wildlife Resources Division that have created other opportunities. For instance, our archaeology workshops offer an opportunity for personnel from other divisions to learn about what we do by participating in an actual field survey. These workshops have proven to be enormously popular and are an effective means of educating our DNR partners through a combination of field and classroom activities.
Our DNR service extends to interpretive assistance; for instance, we routinely work with our Parks and Historic Sites Division to establish baseline information for programming. A highlight of our year is participation in Weekend for Wildlife (WFW). Every year in February, the Nongame-Endangered Wildlife Program hosts the Weekend for Wildlife. Held the second full weekend in February at the Cloister resort on Sea Island, Weekend for Wildlife mixes adventure excursions to Georgia's wild barrier islands with a spectacular auction and banquet to create the ideal getaway for concerned wildlife enthusiasts. Last year more than $260,000 was raised for nongame management projects. Registration for this unique event opens in October. You may obtain a brochure by contacting the Wildlife Resources Division Headquarters at (770) 918-6400 after November 15. As our contribution to WFW, the Archaeological Services Unit helps lead an archaeology and history tour of Sapelo Island.
Usually these archaeological sites are not under any threat and hence do not require mitigation. However, it is DNR's policy to encourage research that is minimally-destructive, answers pertinent research questions, and yields information useful for interpretation and management purposes.
Under Code Section 12-3-52 the State Archaeologist is responsible for permitting or entering into contractual agreements with recognized scientific institutions or qualified individuals to conduct research on state owned or managed lands. To better promote the preservation of Georgia’s archaeological and historic resources, the Office of the State Archaeologist on behalf of the State of Georgia, reserves the right to retain ownership of all data derived from state owned or managed lands as well as products produced from such data. Individuals may be allowed to retain the rights to the data when those individuals are exceptionally well-qualified, have a track record of peer-reviewed publications and grants related to the research in question, and/or have an established history of research on State owned or managed lands. Individuals allowed to retain ownership rights must grant the State a license to use the data.
Please read the following documents carefully, and then contact the State Archaeologist with any questions.
However, our internal resources to enable us to investigate those sites is limited. Further, there are certain types of projects that require expertise outside of what our staff members command. Thus, we work proactively with universities and other entities to carry out mission-critical research on archaeological resources. Some of our most recent sponsored research projects include:
This initiative has evolved into a larger survey project, co-sponsored by the National Park Service Long Distance Trails Office. Working with historian Dr. Sarah Hill, we are attempting to locate the Cherokee Removal forts, temporary encampments where tribal members were held briefly before assembling in larger groups that walked the Trail of Tears. We anticipate completion of this project in late 2004/early 2005.
Another long-term project is the Flint River Basin Archaeological Survey. A joint project of our office and the LAMAR Institute, the survey is a direct outgrowth of the Georgia Underwater Archaeology Council recommendations. The goals of the project are:
Our most recent sponsored research project was a shovel test survey of Nacoochee Mound, carried out in a partnership with the University of Georgia. Working under the direction of Dr. Mark Williams, Director of the Georgia Archaeological Site File, we helped field school students test the extent and depth of the village midden associated with this outstanding mound site, which is now under the protection of Georgia DNR.
Fort Morris State Historic Site
Archaeological research carried out by Southern Research Historic Preservation Consultants, Inc. revealed rich documentary and archaeological records at Fort Morris. Documentary research has helped to establish an in-depth timeline for the use and occupation of the fort, detailing military units and officers present at various times at Fort Morris. Additionally, ground penetrating radar was used to guide limited archaeological excavations which yielded considerable numbers of artifacts including military buttons and weapons, ceramics, glass, animal remains, and shrapnel related to the British siege on January 9,1779. The research at Fort Morris was funded through the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Archaeology at Fort Morris - July 2010
Archaeological Investigations at Fort Morris State Historic Site, Liberty County, Georgia - August 2003
Visit the Fort Morris State Historic Site web page for more information.
Archaeological research at Kolomoki was first carried out by Charles Fairbanks and Robert Wauchope in the 1930s. Their work was followed by further excavations by William Sears in the following decade. While there has been debate in the last fifty years surrounding both the time period in which the Kolomoki mounds were constructed and the nature of the site itself, recent archaeological excavations by the University of South Florida's Thomas Pluckhahn for his 2002 Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Georgia have helped to refine both the dates assigned to the sites occupation as well as the overall interpretation of the Kolomoki mounds. Pluckhahn's research, which received in-kind support by DNR, has revealed that Middle to Late Woodland people occupied the site primarily between A.D. 350 to 750 and that during this time period Kolomoki was the heart of a rich ceremonial tradition. Over the hundreds of years of Woodland occupation at the site, the focus on group ritual at Kolomoki gradually gave way to an increased focus on individual and personal status. Today, Kolomoki stands as a reminder of Georgia's dynamic American Indian past.
In 1974, thieves broke into the museum at Kolomoki Mounds State Park and stole over 90 whole pots. The vessels are important for more than their archaeological or scientific value; they are also special to the decedents of the native people who inhabited the site. These artifacts are beautiful pieces of art with several effigy pots representing animals including panthers, deer, owls, and ducks. Since the burglary, only 13 of the pots have been recovered. We hope that the vessels will be found. Now, more than 40 years later, some of these vessels may reappear in collections as unknowing family members inherit the artifacts, unaware that they were stolen. Please help us spread the word about these vessels. A brochure that includes images of the stolen vessels is available here (PDF).
Read "City Beneath the Mounds: Mapping a prehistoric American metropolis" by Mike Toner in the November/December 2008 issue of Archaeology magazine.
The Sapelo Island Archaeological Research Consortium is a loosely organized group of archaeologists who are dedicated to the research and study of Sapelo Island's amazing history. Funded partially by in-kind support from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Research Consortium members bring to Sapelo Island their own background, perspectives, and research topics. All the archaeological work on Sapelo Island is brought together by one very important theme: students. Both undergraduate and graduate students work on each project on Sapelo, gaining valuable field experience and, hopefully, a love for the peoples and cultures that have made Sapelo what it is today.
Sapelo Island during the Spanish Period
Fellow Consortium members Richard Jeffries and Christopher Moore have been excavating the area just north of Shell Ring II, one of the three Shell Rings on Sapelo Island. Their excavations have yielded Spanish artifacts and Native American ceramic types dating to the 17th century, a date that coincides with the intense contact between the Guale and Spanish Missionaries. Additionally, Jeffries, Moore, and their students have discovered a number of archaeological features such as pits and post molds. Though there is still work to be done at this site, it seems likely that the uncovered features and artifacts represent Mission San Joseph de Sapala, the flagship of the Spanish Missionary efforts on Sapelo Island and the center of the daily interaction between the Spanish and Guale cultures. Norma Harris of the University of West Florida Archaeology Institute is investigating Bourbon Field, a very large prehistoric site that may include components related to the earliest Spanish presence on the island.
Sapelo Island during the Plantation Period
Slave cabins on Sapelo Islands South End Plantation
Locating the cabins posed a significant challenge. Built of wood, and with foundations of wooden posts, the archaeological signature of the cabins consisted primarily of thousands of nails. Archaeological testing revealed that there are significant features such as trash pits and stains left from structural members throughout the site area. Particularly heavy artifact concentrations appear to be located around the windows and doors of the structures, a phenomenon known in archaeological circles as the Brunswick Pattern, named for the colonial site in North Carolina where it was first identified. The Brunswick Pattern results from the day in-day out disposal of household refuse by tossing it out the doors and windows of a house. Knowing where these resources are located is critical to their future management and interpretation.
Slave cabins on Sapelo Island's South End Plantation discovered - September 2009