The UGA Laboratory of Archeology might be a hidden gem, but the facility holds a wealth of history and culture in its vast artifact repository, providing an ongoing connection to the past for scholars around the world – and a pathway to deeper connections to Georgia's past than most of us might have ever considered. Our colleagues in the Office of Research provides the details that go into curating a living warehouse of human history:
In a nondescript brick building on Whitehall Road, miles away from the bustle of UGA’s campus, thousands of years of history wait quietly to give up their secrets.
The UGA Archaeology Lab’s newest home may have only opened its doors in 2018, but the collections inside tell a story that spans the millennia of human habitation in the land now called Georgia. There are sherds of pottery fired by indigenous Americans while the Han dynasty ruled in China, human effigies molded as Charlemagne was being crowned, glass vials of “pharmaceuticals” sold during Reconstruction—all markers of the cultures that have called this land home.
During the pandemic year, archaeological fieldwork ground virtually to a halt. But inside the Archaeology Lab, discovery continued as faculty, staff and students turned inward to the collections already in hand, using 21st-century technologies to peer more deeply into ages past.
“Archaeology is one of those really interesting disciplines in that there’s this inherent curiosity that we have about where we come from,” said Victor Thompson, professor of anthropology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Archaeology Lab since 2019. “Regardless of whether you saw Raiders of the Lost Ark when you were a kid, you’re going to have an interest in it because it gets back to that fundamental question: Who are we?”
Image: Archaeology Lab Director Victor Thompson (Photo by Nancy Evelyn)