Today, we went on our first excursion. We left our camp around 6:30 to visit a prehistoric site about forty minutes away. We would be doing survey work there, and the goal was to assess the site and understand the spacial and chronological boundaries of the site.
Before arriving at the site, we stopped at a local place to have breakfast. Nothing beats a hot plate of grits in the morning, mmm mmm good!
After stopping for breakfast our site was just a short drive down the road. Once we arrived at the site were did an informal walk around a large mound
that is believe to have been constructed by Native Americans. Along one side of the mound ran a small dirt road that cut into the side of the mound.
As we walked along the dirt road looking closely at the exposed side of the mound, we could easily spot artifacts that had eroded out of the earth. Having previously spent hours analyzing prehistoric Native American pottery and lithics (stone tool workings) in our temporary lab at Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge, we could easily
identify the various artifacts we were finding. As we spotted the artifacts we would leave them and flag them with red and orange pin flags so that we could mark their position later.
Just as we were finishing up our short walk, our good friend, Adam Emrick of Horry County Planning Commission, joined us at the site, bringing along with him his GPR or ground penetrating radar. We would be using the GPR, which looks something like a push-mower with a visual readout screen between the handles, to locate anomalies beneath the surface of the mound.
So with each of us taking turns pushing the GPR,
we walked in a systematic grid-like pattern back and forth over the mound using red and orange flags to mark the many various artifacts that covered the ground. We marked many pieces of pottery, lithic flakes, arrowheads, and other broken stone artifacts. We also marked any anomalies indicated by the GPR using pink flags.
After the team had covered the entire mound and hundreds of artifacts had been flagged we returned to the same local restaurant for some chicken bog and biscuits, a local favorite of the area. After lunch several members of the team used a Trimble handheld computer with a built-in GPS to electronically mark the locations of the various artifacts and anomalies flagged on the mound.
The other five team members walked a recently plowed field near the mound, but found only a few tiny broken pieces of pottery. The lack of artifacts present in the field allowed the team to rule out the field as hiding any archaeological material. Around 3:00 PM the day’s survey work was winding down. We packed up our gear and returned to camp were we ate a delicious dinner of bar-b-q chicken.