Day 1 by Jess Hendrix

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Today, June 7, 2010, began the first ever Coastal Carolina University Archaeological Field School. Our team is made up of six students and two Coastal professors, Dr. Cheryl Ward and Dr. Carolyn Dillian, who are in charge of the field school.  The team met at the archaeology lab in Coastal Carolina’s Burroughs and Chapin Marine and Wetlands Studies Center at 9:00 A.M. There the team was introduced to Dr. Dillian, as she is a new and welcomed member to Coastal Carolina University’s faculty. The team also became acquainted with one another because most of the team members had not yet met one another. Afterwards, we loaded all of the equipment needed for the day into a truck borrowed from the Marine and Wetlands Studies Center. Dr. Ward began the morning by going over the syllabus for the field-school and telling the team what we would be doing that day. Dr. Dillian covered proper field safety and health concerns. Her field experience stories and push-ups policy will be sure to keep everyone in check.

on the spoil pile

Shortly before lunch, the team headed for the site where a 19th century government shipyard had once been located. The dig site was located in the corner of a church parking lot in downtown Conway along the banks of the Waccamaw River.

Connection area for buried cables

Telecom companies had been doing some work there when they began to unearth large lumps of resin, which was a common substance used in 19th century shipyards. Dr. Ward was called and so it was decided that the field-school would begin there at that site. The construction crew had dug a very large hole approximately 10’x20’ and placed the dirt in a large pile next to the hole were it sat waiting for our team to come sift through it.

Once at the site, our team walked over the area while Dr. Ward and Dr. Dillian briefed us about what had been found, what to look for, and what we could expect to do for the day. After unloading the equipment it was time for lunch. After a delicious lunch at Wendy’s our team returned to the site where we broke into three groups of two. Each team had a rocker screen and a shovel. One person would fill the rocker screen with dirt from the pile next to the hole while the other person would rock the screen back and forth sifting the dirt looking for any artifacts that may be in the dirt.

working hard

rocker screen teams

We recovered many artifacts such as lumps of resin, pieces of glass and pottery, pieces of mortar and brick, as well as whole bricks, pieces of splintered wood, nails, various types of fresh water and sea shells, and even a small piece of rope.

The team also did a walk over of the mound, in which members of the team spread out over the mound and collected artifacts visible on the service of the mound. Many more artifacts were found during the walk over including a broken barrelhead and a shark’s tooth. It was also during the walk over that members of the team found a plank of wood covered in resin buried in the mound.

After some careful excavating of the artifact it was revealed to be several planks nailed together. The planks may be a piece of a boat crafted with what appears to be hand forged nails. Several more large planks were also found buried in the mound.

Around 3:40 P.M. the team began to document our activities for the day in our field journals and pack up our equipment. It was an exciting day and a great start to Coastal’s first archaeological field-school. Dr. Dillian and Dr. Ward were both impressed and excited with the team’s effort. The entire team is excited and looking forward to a great field school. The local community members and people of the surrounding areas who are interested in history, archaeology, or just curious about what is being done at the site are strongly encouraged to come out and visit the site. There is a table set up displaying artifacts found at the sited. Members of the team would love to talk with you about what is being found at the site and answer any questions you might have about the work Coastal Carolina University’s archaeology department is doing in the area.

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