A non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of South Carolina's history and culture through archaeology, research, public outreach, and education. Our non-profits mission is to provide proper guidance and consultation for the better treatment of historical and archaeological sites. We promote the restoration, protection, and enjoyment of the natural and historic values of historical and archaeological sites. And we foster increased public awareness of and advocate for the responsible development and use of the historic resources of South Carolina.

Ceramics and Cultural Interactions on the Colonial Frontier

A project that we are currently participating in is the Lord Ashley site, located outside of Charleston, South Carolina. The Lord Ashley site was the 1675-1685 fortified plantation and trading post for Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper, one of the original eight Lords Proprietors of the Carolina colony. Archaeological research here has identified the foundation of oldest British brick foundations in the Carolinas, and the defensive moat. Research here has furthered our understanding of the Proprietary period and Lord Ashley’s involvement in the development of the Carolinas, even though he never had a chance to visit his Carolina estate. The artifacts have allowed us to identify specific groups of Native Americans who interacted with the colonists and the likelihood that at least some of the fifteen enslaved adult Africans there made their own pottery.

Nicole Isenbarger, our president, conducted an analysis of the locally produced earthenwares recovered during the 2011 College of Charleston/The Charleston Museum archaeological field school excavations. These ceramics, otherwise known as Colono Wares, are the non-European low fired hand built pottery found in the colonial sites of the eastern United States that were produced by both free and enslaved Native Americans and Africans. Her analysis gave us an idea of the different groups of people who interacted with one another at the site. A brief blog on her work can be seen on the Lord Ashley site blog at http://lordashleysite.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/making-pots-and-mixing-traditions/ One of our main questions was to look for evidence of cultural mixing or the sharing of potting traditions within these ceramics. So far the ceramics are very distinct and separate and we have not seen any evidence that the potters were sharing their ideas and techniques for making ceramics.

This year, Nicole volunteered with the field school excavations, which now also included students from Salve Regina University. She spent 3 weeks in the field working with students and teaching them proper excavation techniques. The artifacts from this field season will be processed at The Charleston Museum by student interns from the College of Charleston. Once the artifacts have been cleaned and catalogued, Nicole will study the Colono Wares we found looking for evidence of specific pottery traditions/styles and possibly even wares that show the sharing of traditions between these different groups.

To learn more about the Lord Ashley site you can follow the blog at http://lordashleysite.wordpress.com
where we will be keeping you up to date on the progress of our research as we begin to research the artifacts we uncovered during this year’s excavations.

Planning a New Project

Archaeological Research Collective is a non-profit organization based in South Carolina that is dedicated to the preservation of South Carolina’s history and culture through historical archaeology, research, public outreach, and education. We do archaeology on historic period sites which involves everything from consulting clients as to how to manage their cultural resources, research of the historic documents related to sites and projects, archaeological excavations, analyzing artifacts, presentations on our research, and public education programs. So what we do each day changes quite a bit depending on which part of a project we are currently working on.

For Day of Archaeology we actually spent the day working on the very beginning of a new project, which will give you an idea of how we start our research. We had an out-of-town meeting with a potential client. We drove a couple of hours out-of-town to a property where they have a known historic plantation from the 18th to 19th centuries. We toured the property while we talked with the client about the history and different parts of the plantation including the houses, work areas, and cemeteries. The client needs to build some new buildings in areas where we know people once lived. We discussed where these buildings would be going and their construction techniques so we can better understand how much they plan on disturbing the site. We also met with students who are doing non-archaeological scientific research there who we are going to be able to work with to get a better understanding of the original landscape of the plantation.

From these discussions we can now design a research plan for the site. Anytime you build something or dig into the ground you have the potential to destroy any archaeological record that there may be. So we have to make sure that we have an understanding of how the site was used in the past before they do any construction. We look to see where buildings were, the size of the buildings and how they were built, who may have lived in them, when did they live in them, and what did they do inside and outside of these buildings. Once we have an understanding of these basic questions, and if we don’t find anything that is really important that would require us to do more excavations and research – then it would be safe for them to build the new buildings.

We had a great day and look forward to working on this project. Even though we didn’t dig in the ground or find any artifacts we did archaeology all day. We talked about and planned future work, which may be the most important part of archaeology. Without a good plan and questions we would be digging for no reason, which should never be done. Great work starts with great planning!