South Carolina

Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve Documentary Film Series Public Screening

Archaeologists from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Heritage Trust Program hosted a film screening of the Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve documentary film series in Columbia, SC, USA for the 2015 Day of Archaeology. Also in attendance were archaeologists who worked with DNR from the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology (SCIAA) and the South Carolina Archaeology Public Outreach Division (SCAPOD).

FFHP Film Screening 24 July 2015

Archaeologist Sean Taylor (left) answers questions at the screening of the Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve documentary film series.

The film series documents archaeological excavations, tabby restoration, and public tours that took place at Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve during the winter of 2014-2015. The films and supplemental educational resources (lesson plans and vocabulary list) are available for free on the films web page and HD film versions are available through the filmmaker’s website and Vimeo.

Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve Artifacts

SCIAA archaeologists have cataloged over 12,650 artifacts excavated from the site during the winter of 2014-2015, and the number continues to grow daily as more artifacts are analyzed.

Funding for the film series was provided by the DNR Heritage Trust Program, and grants received from the Harry Hampton Memorial Wildlife Fund and The Humanities Council SC. A survey is provided to gain feedback from viewers.

Tabby Restoration and Documentary Filming

Tabby restoration expert, Rick Wightman fills molds with recently mixed tabby at Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve while filmmaker Jamie Koelker documents the process.

The Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve is a 3-acre property owned by the DNR and located in Port Royal, Beaufort County, SC, USA. Situated along the Beaufort River, the preserve contains the remains of a tabby fort built by the British between 1730 and 1734 to defend against possible attacks from the Spanish at St. Augustine, Florida. The preserve acquisition was made possible by a donation of the site from the National Park Service’s Federal-Lands-to-Parks Program and funds from the DNR’s Heritage Trust Fund.

Sean Taylor with visitors at Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Heritage Trust Archaeologist Sean Taylor (left) shows artifacts to visitors at Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve.

The fort, also known as Fort Prince Frederick, is thought to be the oldest tabby structure in South Carolina and possibly the oldest tabby fort in the Southeastern United States. Provincial scout boats were stationed here periodically. A relatively small fort, it measures 125 feet by 75 feet with an obvious bastion on the southwest side. The eastern wall was lined with a battery and cannon. The interior of the fort held a barracks and a magazine, and was garrisoned by an independent Company of Foot British Regulars until their transfer to Georgia in 1736.

Artifacts in hand at Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve

Nineteenth century artifacts excavated from the Smith’s Plantation component of the Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve.

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 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
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.

The Many Hats of Directing an Archaeology Program

My name is James Newhard, and I am Director of the Archaeology Program at the College of Charleston (SC), a position which I have held since July of this year.  This is the second time that I’ve held this position (the first time, between 2005-2008).  In between my first and second term, I served as chair of the Department of Classics (2008-2010).

In my training, I held a focus early on in classical archaeology, earning degrees in classical languages and classical art and archaeology at the University of Missouri, before graduate work in classical and pre-classical archaeology at the University of Cincinnati.  Along the way, I also worked as a staff archaeologist at the CRM firm of Gray and Pape, Inc., and held a geoarchaeological fellowship at the Wiener Laboratory at the American School for Classical Studies in Athens.

The diversity of experiences has served me well in understanding the variety of archaeological approaches and methods in play in an active, multidisciplinary program.  Charleston, SC is a unique place in terms of archaeological activity, possessing in its environs evidence for Native American, Euro-American contact, colonial, ante-bellum plantation, and post-civil war systems of organization.

CofC students excavating at Hampton Plantation, SC

College of Charleston students excavating at Hampton Plantation, SC. Photo courtesy of Dr. Barbara Borg

In addition, there are significant sites of military conflict in the area (American Revolution and Civil War). All of these activities and periods of history are found both on land and offshore.  Archaeological studies by faculty and other entities are constant in the area, providing local opportunities for student engagement that few other areas of North America can offer.  In addition to the local archaeological wealth, the College is home to scholars actively involved in the Mediterranean, Near East, eastern and western Europe, and Egypt.

As in many American universities, archaeology at the College of Charleston is an interdisciplinary program, pulling its coursework, faculty, and students from cognate programs.  As Director, my role is to coordinate and communicate the course offerings provided by the constituent programs (Anthropology, Art History, Biology, Chemistry, Classics, Computer Science, Geology, History, Historic Preservation, and Mathematics) to faculty and students, receive and distribute information about internship opportunities and supervise their academic components; build community across the program via social media and events; engage with departmental chairs, program directors, and deans on academic programming to strengthen the program and cognate areas; promote the research and other activities of faculty and students; lead discussions among the program’s Steering Committee in regards to curriculum design and management; advise students; recruit new students; and in general to promote academic and research cooperation across the institution and with relevant local, state, federal, and private entities in the area.  In these activities, I am provided with some administrative assistance to facilitate communication with various stakeholders and maintain records useful for tracking the program’s progress and activities.

I still retain my appointment to the Department of Classics, where I teach typically in the areas of introductory Latin and classical archaeology (focused upon Aegean Prehistory and Classical Greece, landscape archaeology, and computer applications in classics and archaeology), and contribute to discussions of curriculum, program development and promotion, and the general academic community.

As a scholar in my own right, I am involved as the Assistant Director for the Avkat Archaeological Project in central Turkey and

Fieldwalking in the Avkat region, central Turkey

Fieldwalking in the Avkat region, central Turkey. Photo: AAP Archives

Peter Bikoulis and Jim Newhard review in-field database systems on the Avkat Project, Turkey.

Peter Bikoulis and Jim Newhard review in-field database systems on the Avkat Project, Turkey. Photo: AAP Archives

the Göksu Archaeological Project in the Taurus Mountains.  My interest in survey archaeology has turned my attention to the intersections of survey methodology, geospatial applications, and informatics.  I am currently designing the computing data systems for the study of the Linear B deposits from the Palace of Nestor and a number of other informatics and geospatial topics.  Currently in the analysis and publication phases for Avkat and Göksu, I am busy with processing these datasets, writing relevant sections of the publications, and managing ‘spinoff’ ideas that are an inevitable by-product of fieldwork.

Fortunately, these various roles tend to not happen all at once.  On the appointed ‘Day of Archaeology,’ my day was spent working in one of our GIS labs on campus, where we are developing methods to refine chronological and functional information derived from survey data.  Throughout the day, there was the scheduling of several meetings with students, faculty, and administrators for the week ahead; updating members of the archaeology staff on the development of a database to track internship opportunities; forwarding employment opportunities to Classics majors; reviewing abstracts for a professional conference; and communicating with collaborators on the progress of the publication for the Avkat project.  In the early afternoon, I briefly met with several students in geospatial informatics about the status of several ongoing research projects and how they may become engaged, and reviewed the efficacy of recently-obtained 3D visualization software.

Newhard, wearing a hat

Newhard, wearing a hat. Photo by permission of author.

As an academic archaeologist with administrative duties, one wears many hats.  As I work in the field of archaeology, I find that the skills and knowledge critical to most tasks are not the ones that were the subject of comprehensive and final exams.  Archaeology is as much a process of working with people as it is with the artifacts.  No day is the same, but in most cases, the day is full with any number of activities that engages the mind, other people, and our combined understanding of the past and its applications to our present condition.

Making Artifacts Talk… How do you do that?

Can archaeologists make artifacts talk?

Perhaps, as I asserted in an earlier post today,  the greatest challenge to archaeologists is successfully relaying the nuances of our discipline to a broad audience.  In order to be successful we must try to make the mute artifacts talk. The Johannes Kolb site on the Great Pee Dee River at Mechanicsville in Darlington County, South Carolina, USA provides a unique opportunity to dovetail archaeological research with a concerted public education program.  This archaeological site spans the last 13,000 years with evidence for repeated occupations all thru time.  Prehistoric Native Americans, 18th century European immigrants, 19th century slaves of African descent, Early 20th century loggers, and hunters and fisherman of the mid 20th century all called the Kolb site home. If home is truly where the heart is, the site offers a chance to breathe life into the past and make it’s pulse come alive by investigating the home place of past peoples. In reality we strive to make artifacts talk and oh but if only we could make walls and artifacts talk. Instead we rely on our science and our collective imagination to transcend time in an effort to better understand the human past in South Carolina and we ask you to listen and invoke your own imagination.

A Second Student has Arrived in the Lab

Andrew arrived at 10:45am.  I have him conducting the next step in the process–rebagging the artifacts that were washed on Weds. and were left to dry for 48 hours.  We have purchased 4 mil ziplock bags of all sizes from 2×3 inches on up to 12 x15 inches.  Just yesterday $300 worth of bags shipped overnight to Columbia, SC. These bags fit the standards for permanent curation established by the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of South Carolina.  Each artifact type gets its own bag. Eventually the Kolb Site artifacts will be curated in perpetuity at the Institute… for $200 per bankers box.  Remember in an earlier post I said we had 600 plus boxes.  If you do the math don’t tell me just send me some money!

Johannes Kolb Site

Good Morning its 8:22am and the temperature will reach 100 degrees today. My name is Chris Judge and along with colleagues Carl Steen and Sean Taylor we are co-directors of  a 25 year researcha nd education project to explore a site spanning 13,000 years in South Carolina.

Today Carl is editing a chapter we three wrote on the Kolb site for a book on South Carolina to be published by the University of South Carolina Press.

I am in the lab expecting student volunteers to help wash artifacts from our two week field season in March, editing the 2011 South Carolina Archaeology MonthPoster featuring the Johannes Kolb Archaeology and Education Project, and beginning to plan our 2012 field season.

Sean is asssiting local law enforcement with a looted site in the western portion of the state.




Johannes Kolb Archaeology and Education Project

Today, July 29th  we are in the lab at the University of South Carolina in Columbia washing artifacts from our two week field season in March 2011.  Our site has evidence from Ice Age hunters on up into the 20th century and everything in between.  We have all the Native American cultures known in South Carolina, USA.  These are followed in time by an early 18th century German American occupation when Johannes Kolb and his family moved here in 1737.  During the 19th century there was a slave occupation and a saw mill and loggers camp in the very early 20th century.

Since 1997 we have been working with volunteers in excavating 50cm squares and one 2 meter square in every 5 meter block in order to obtain a 17% over all sample of the site.

See our website: