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Ossabaw Island has had over 4,000 years of human occupation, with evidence of over 225 archaeological sites. Historic Perservation Division (HPD) archaeology section recently participated in two archaeological investigations on Ossabaw Island.

The first was an HPD and Ossabaw Island Foundation-sponsored archaeological field school conducted by Dr. Nick Honerkamp of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. This partnership provides HPD with the labor to conduct small to medium scale field and laboratory investigations that enhance our ability to effectively manage and interpret Georgia’s historic resources. The field school concentrated its efforts on the North End Plantation site. This investigation complements a previous archaeological and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey, conducted by Dan Elliott of the Lamar Institute. The 2011 archaeological field school expanded the search area in an attempt to define the extent of the site and to characterize different land use patterns over time. Initial field observations indicate Dr. Honerkamp was successful in identifying several historic occupations but more detailed information will be available after laboratory analysis is complete.

The second investigation took place at the Cane Patch site. Cane Patch has been characterized as a Late Archaic period (4500-3500 Years Before Present) shell mound or ring; roughly 196 feet in diameter and 10-feet high prior to disturbance. Historically, the site’s shell was mined for use in tabby buildings and later road construction and repair across Ossabaw Island. Due to the mining activity, portions of the site are slowly slumping into the surrounding marsh, and large vertical cuts are in danger of collapsing. The current archaeological investigations were designed to gain a better understanding of the site and its composition prior to site stabilization efforts. HPD’s efforts confirm the site was a rare coastal shell mound, rather than a shell ring. Although the functions and meanings of rings and mounds are still debated, the two likely formed in different ways as a result of different activities. Correctly identifying the site as a mound is the first step in better understanding the processes and people who made it. Additional fieldwork is planned to learn more about the site and the actions that created it.

More information on archaeology in Georgia is available on our website.

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2011-2013 Archaeological Field Investigations