Day 4 – Julia Mills

Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge, Site 38GE560

Starting the visual survey

Today was our first day out on this site and our goal was to familiarize ourselves with the area and prepare the site for our project. We spent this morning doing an archaeological survey of the area surrounding our intended site. This entails combing the area looking for visible artifacts or land features in order to help us focus our excavation. Luckily, we did have a map from a previous project to work from.

We formed a line and completed several passes through the area using the old wagon trail to guide us. It sounds simple, but the brush was thick and thorny and full of big bugs! It was hard work getting through the woods, but we pushed through. We placed bright orange pin flags near anything of interest to our project; this way we would be able to take a step back and see how these things are spread out. We located three piles of rubble, a rectangular feature on a ridge, and several independent artifacts that may be associated with the site. After our survey, we had a much-deserved break for lunch.
During the afternoon, we worked to clear the brush from the area around the rectangular feature, believed to be a cabin of undetermined period. While we were removing leaves and branches, we unsettled a young rattlesnake! Fortunately, the snake left us all alone and no one got hurt. Unfortunately, this kind of thing can happen a lot during survey and excavation. We found a few pieces of older glass, a piece of what seems to be a lamp, a glass panel bottle, a tin bowl, and a great number of bricks. There seems to have been a brick foundation as well as a chimney. The rest of the cabin would have been built out of wood and has not survived.

Close observation results in small discoveries that can help a lot to pinpoint when a site was used.

The late afternoon was spent analyzing and sorting the prehistory pottery pieces we received from the Horry County Museum. It was really incredible to see all the types, but it can be difficult to place them all into context. There’s still so much to go through, but it’s important to give these pottery pieces some organization and figure out where they come from and what they mean.

Labwork includes sorting prehistoric pottery.

We will have more time to work on the pottery pieces tomorrow and learn more about the pottery in this area from a special guest. Stay Tuned!

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