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DNR-managed Lands

Jennifer Weber,  Staff Archaeologist - WRD -- 770.389.7858

Aimee Bouzigard, Staff Archaeologist - SPHS -- 770.389.7857

DNR Service

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.

HPD archaeologists Dave Crass (center) and Ronnie Rogers (center right), with HPD's Vivian Pugh (right) inspect a screen full of artifacts during a workshop on Ossabaw Island.


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.

A Weekend for Wildlife tour group enjoys the Sapelo Light.

Research on DNR-managed Lands
HPD's Archaeology Section receives many requests from graduate students, professors, and others wishing to conduct research on DNR-managed lands.

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.

Archaeological Research on DNR Lands
Checklist and Memorandum of Understanding
Protocols Memo

Archaeological Research on DNR Collections
Checklist and Memorandum of Understanding

Sponsored Research
DNR manages some of the premier archaeological sites in the southeast.  The only way to efficiently interpret and manage those sites is through carefully controlled and limited investigations. 

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:

·Chocolate Plantation (above), Sapelo Island (University of Mississippi Masters Thesis, Chris Simmons, author)
·Sapelo Shell Rings, Sapelo Island (University of Kentucky, Victor Thompson, author)
·Fort Morris State Historic Site (Southern Research Historic Preservation Consultants)
·Nacoochee Mound village testing (Dr. Mark Williams, University of Georgia, author)
·Kolomoki Mounds State Historic Site (University of Georgia doctoral dissertation, Thomas Pluckhahn, author)

We also participate in several long-term sponsored research projects.  One of these is the Trail of Tears Initiative.  The Trail of Tears Initiative started when technical assistance was requested of our office to help in the location of an early-19th century Moravian cemetery located near the Chief Vann House State Historic Site, outside of Chatsworth, Georgia.  Working with a ground penetrating radar crew, we were able to find the grave shafts of the cemetery, which was reconsecrated by the Principal Chiefs of the Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee on July 27, 2002.

Spring Place Gods Acre after rehabilitation and reconsecration.

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:
·To encourage research and information exchange between professional archaeologists and artifact collectors
·To use a well-developed research design to guide investigations
·To focus professional archaeological interest on southwest Georgia, and
·To create educational materials for citizens of the region.

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. 

DNR archaeologist Bob Entorf (kneeling) assists in excavations at Nacoochee Mound.

Case studies
The Popper Site - April 2012
Archaeology at Bush Head Shoals - December 2011
Ossabaw 2011 Archaeological Field Investigations - August 2011

Camp Lawton at Magnolia Springs
On August 18, 2010 the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Southern University and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), announced a major historic discovery: the excavation of numerous Civil War artifacts from the Camp Lawton Site. The announcement was made at Magnolia Springs State Park, where the majority of Camp Lawton's stockade and Fort Lawton earthworks exist. Part of the site is on the property of Bo Ginn National Fish Hatchery, which the FWS administers.  Following the announcement, the public was able to view many of the artifacts, including some of the prisoners personal items, at an open house at the park.

Camp Lawton Archaeological Discoveries Unveiled - September 2010
Camp Lawton update - January 2010
The brief life of Camp Lawton - June/July 2009

Georgia Southern University's Camp Lawton website
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Camp Lawton website

Fort Morris State Historic Site

Located in Liberty County south of the historic town of Sunbury, Fort Morris is best known as an important and strategic fort during the Revolutionary War.  Constructed and garrisoned by the Americans in 1776, Fort Morris was used as a staging ground for several military attempts against British East Florida.  None of these were successful and Fort Morris eventually fell to British forces in a siege on January 9, 1779, after which it was renamed Fort George.  Fort Morris saw further action during the War of 1812 when it was renamed Fort Defiance.  Today, the Fort Morris Historic Site is managed by the Department of Natural Resources and is open to the public.

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

Fort Morris Discovery: An Educational & Archaeological Odyssey for 4th Graders - August 2003

Visit the Fort Morris State Historic Site  web page for more information.

Kolomoki Mounds State Historic Park

University of South Florida archaeologists investigate a Weeden Island Period house at Kolomoki.

Located in southwest Georgia's lower Chattahoochee Valley, Kolomoki Mounds Historic Park includes one of the state's most valuable cultural heritage sites.  The mound mound group includes at least nine mounds as well as the surrounding village and outlying sites.

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).

Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site
The Etowah Indian Mounds were one of the most important political centers of the late prehistoric southeast.  They have been investigated by archaeologists since the late 19th century, but the application of remote sensing technology is resulting in important discoveries about exactly what the mounds and surrounding town looked like. 

Read "City Beneath the Mounds: Mapping a prehistoric American metropolis" by Mike Toner in the November/December 2008 issue of Archaeology magazine.

Sapelo Island
Sapelo Island, one of Georgia's thirteen major barrier islands, has seen an astonishingly wide array of people, cultures, and colorful characters throughout its long history of human occupation.  From the earliest American Indians to the present-day Geechee of Hog Hammock who call Sapelo their home, these groups have left their own unique traces on the face of the island.

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 Shell Rings
People first began to live in villages on Sapelo Island during the Late Archaic Period, roughly 4,200 to 3,000 years ago.  While Archaic people left behind many smaller sites on the island, perhaps their most enduring landmarks are the Sapelo Island Shell Rings.  The Shell Rings are a group of three ring-shaped mounds of discarded shell and other materials that built up over time around American Indian dwellings.  Previous research carried out by C.B. Moore in the late 1800s and Antonio Waring and Lewis Larson in the 1950s have shown that the oldest portions of the Sapelo Island Shell Rings date to 2,500 B.C.  Research Consortium member Victor Thompson and his colleagues Wesley Stoner and Harold Rowe have recently investigated the Native American ceramics recovered from these Shell Rings in an attempt to understand the evolution of ceramic production on Sapelo Island and determine if the Late Archaic people utilizing the Shell Rings were trading with other groups off the island.

Sapelo Island during the Spanish Period
The arrival of the Spanish along coastal Georgia marks the first contact between Native Americans and Europeans in the region.  Consortium member John Worth has carried out exhaustive documentary research into the contact and interaction between Spanish colonists and Missionaries with the local Guale Indians who inhabited Sapelo Island and the surrounding area.  Worth's research traces the history of the first Spanish slave raiding excursions along the Georgia coast between 1515 and 1516, the upheaval and change caused to Guale culture by the Spanish Missionary and military presence, revolts against the Spanish by the Guale Indians in 1576-1580 and 1597, and the final retreat of the Spanish Missionaries and their Guale followers to St. Augustine, Florida in 1702 and 1704 following raids by English and French pirates.

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.

Ground penetrating radar (GPR) has proven an effective technique for locating archaeological features on Sapelo Island.  Here Dan Elliott (left) and Nick Honerkamp (right) watch as GPR is used at Chocolate Plantation.

Spanish Mission Research on St. Catherines and Sapelo islands - November 2009

Sapelo Island during the Plantation Period
For a brief period following the Spanish retreat to St. Augustine in 1702 and 1704, Sapelo Island seems to have been relatively deserted.  By the middle 1700s, however, Sapelo became home to several historic plantations.  Two of these plantations, High Point and Chocolate, have been the focus of recent research by Nicholas Honerkamp of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  Exhaustive documentary research by historian Buddy Sullivan has revealed parts of the complex history of Sapelo, including the claiming of the island in the mid-1700s by a Creek woman named Mary Musgrove, the purchase and occupation of the island by a small group of Frenchmen escaping the Reign of Terror in France, and the eventual establishment of Chocolate and High Point Plantations in the late 1700s.  Honerkamp has conducted large-scale archaeological surveys at both Chocolate and High Point Plantations to better understand how the documentary history relates to information recovered archaeologically from each site.  These current surveys are part of a long-term effort by Honerkamp to study and compare the overall site structure at Chocolate and High Point.

Slave cabins on Sapelo Islands South End Plantation
Archaeology graduate students from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga have recently discovered the slave cabins associated with Thomas Spalding's South End Plantation on Sapelo Island.  Spalding, one of the wealthiest and most influential southern planters of the antebellum era, owned most of the island before the Civil War.

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.

University of Tennessee-Chattanooga graduate students excavate at one of the slave cabins as State Archaeologist Dave Crass examines their finds.

Dr. Nick Honerkamp of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, who led the search for the cabins, is currently developing a research design that will involve members of the Hog Hammock community, some of whom are descended from enslaved Africans who worked South End and the other plantations on the island.  Opportunities for the general public to participate in Honerkamp's Sapelo Island projects are a regular feature of the Department of Natural Resources Weekend for Wildlife, an event that benefits the departments Nongame Conservation Section.

Slave cabins on Sapelo Island's South End Plantation discovered - September 2009

Sapelo Island Natural Estaurine Research Reserve

Sapelo Island Preserve and Reynolds Mansion

University of Georgia Marine Institute