Archaeology in South Carolina: Exploring the Hidden Heritage of the Palmetto State

Archaeology in South Carolina: Exploring the Hidden Heritage of the Palmetto State

Archaeology in South Carolina: Exploring the Hidden Heritage of the Palmetto State

Archaeology in South Carolina: Exploring the Hidden Heritage of the Palmetto State

Synopsis

Adam King's Archaeology in South Carolina contains an overview of the fascinating archaeological research currently ongoing in the Palmetto state featuring essays by twenty scholars studying South Carolina's past through archaeological research. The scholarly contributions are enhanced by more than one hundred black and white and thirty-eight color images of some of the most important and interesting sites and artifacts found in the state.
South Carolina has an extraordinarily rich history encompassing the first human habitation of North America to the lives of people at the dawn of the modern era. King begins the anthology with the basic hows and whys of archeology and introduces readers to the current issues influencing the field of research. The contributors are all recognized experts from universities, state agencies, and private consulting firms, reflecting the diversity of people and institutions that engage in archaeology.
The volume begins with investigations of some of the earliest Paleo-Indian and Native American cultures that thrived in South Carolina, including work at the Topper Site along the Savannah River. Other essays explore the creation of early communities at the Stallings Island site, the emergence of large and complex Native American polities before the coming of Europeans,the impact of the coming of European settlers on Native American groups along the Savannah River, and the archaeology of the Yamassee, apeople whose history is tightly bound to the emerging European society.
The focus then shifts to Euro-Americans with an examination of a long-term project seeking to understand George Galphin's trading post established on the Savannah River in the eighteenth century. A discussion of Middleburg Plantation, one of the oldest plantation houses in the South Carolina lowcountry, is followed by a fascinating glimpse into how the city of Charleston and the lives of its inhabitants changed during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Essays on underwater archaeological research cover several Civil War-era vessels located in Winyah Bay near Georgetown and Station Creek near Beaufort, as well as one of the most famous Civil War naval vessels--the H.L. Hunley.
The volume concludes with the recollections of a life spent in the field by South Carolina's preeminent historical archaeologist Stanley South, now retired from the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of South Carolina.

Excerpt

IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME since an entire book devoted to current research in South Carolina archaeology has been published. Honestly, this book has been a long time in the making, and the vision for what it was to look like has changed over the years. In this book the authors and I have tried to balance two important considerations. On the one hand, we wanted the book to stand up to scholarly scrutiny and be a resource for our colleagues to use. At the same time, we all realize that we need to communicate directly to the interested public what we do and what we have learned. After all, in one way or another, that public pays for most archaeology and certainly keeps the political will in the state positively predisposed to our shared past. This book is written to be accessible to nonarchaeologists while presenting information that is interesting and informative to both our research colleagues and those in our state who support us. That can be a tricky pair of objectives to meet. Some papers in this book are more technical than others, some are longer than others, and some are more easily accessible to nonspecialists than others. If we have done our jobs, all the essays should have something that everyone can gain from them.

This book is a collection of essays written by archaeologists currently doing research in the state of South Carolina. As such it is not written in one voice but, like the archaeology in South Carolina, has many voices and perspectives. This is an important aspect of archaeology for everyone to understand. Archaeology is not a unitary science: it has multiple ways of gathering data, and there are often multiple ways of interpreting the past. That makes perfect sense when you remember that we are ultimately studying people and their behavior in the past. The reasons why people do what they do are varied, complex, and often contradictory. Given the complexity and variability of what we study, it remains important to be as broad and flexible as we can as a profession.

In this book we have contributors from universities, state agencies, and private consulting companies. This is not uncommon and reflects the variety of entities that collect information about our past and interpret it. The essays discuss everything from the earliest people in the state to Native Americans at the dawn of European colonization to colonial Charleston and even some Civil War history. Archaeology is a way to collect information about the past, and lots of people use it as part of their study of the past—from anthropologists to historians to ecologists. In general, our intent is to capture the breadth of interests archaeologists pursue in the state. This is by no means an exhaustive showing, but it is fairly representative.

What Is Archaeology?

At its most fundamental level, archaeology is a set of methods designed to gather information about past behavior. Those methods range in scale from detailed excavations to the use of satellite imagery, and in technology from digging in the dirt with shovels to using nuclear physics to derive chemical compositions or . . .

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