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Major collection moves to Laboratory of Archeology

Thursday, April 13, 2017 - 10:32am

St. Catherines Island, located along the Georgia coast, is a culturally and ecologically unique barrier island that contains diverse evidence of human occupation that spans more than 4,000 years. It is home to the most completely excavated Spanish mission in the Southeast; archaeological work on the island has been taking place for more than 42 years. The extensive archaeological collection that includes artifacts and other paleoenvironmental materials recovered by the American Museum of Natural History during a decade of excavation has now been moved to UGA:

The St. Catherines Island Collection contains more than 109,000 cataloged artifacts, 2,650 radiocarbon samples, and paleoenvironmental assemblages of animal bones, mollusk shells and plant remains. The collection coming to UGA includes prehistoric ceramics, partially reconstructed ceramic vessels, prehistoric ceramic pipes, lithic projectile points (arrowheads), bone tools, shell beads, shell gorgets and shell ear plugs.

The materials are accompanied by a comprehensive digital database that contains relevant field notes, photographs, catalogs, reports and publications that relate to the excavations conducted on the island from 2005 to 2015. The university will also receive any future artifacts excavated on the island.

"This is one of the most important archaeological collections to come to the Laboratory of Archaeology since its founding in 1947," says Mark Williams, director of the UGA Laboratory of Archaeology. "It will enhance our already extensive coastal collection and allow current and future researchers to continue answering questions concerning the role that islands and coastal regions played in the development of human societies over time."

The Georgia coast offers a fascinating glimpse into the past, one only made more interesting as investigation venture into pre-historic times. This is an important collection for students and researchers and UGA will now steward its perservation and utilization going forward. Congratulations to the many faculty and administrators who brought this collection to campus.

Image: (From left): Anna Semon, lab director of the Nels Nelson North American Archaeology Laboratory at the American Museum of Natural History; Mark Williams, director of the UGA Laboratory of Archaeology; Victor Thompson, associate professor and director of the UGA Center for Archaeological Sciences; and Amanda Thompson, assistant director of the UGA Laboratory of Archaeology, examine a Late Archaic period shell tool from the St. Catherines Island Collection. (Photo credit: Dorothy Kozlowski)

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