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Archaeology

Archaeology

The Office of the State Archaeologist and Archaeology Section serve as the center of disciplinary expertise in state government. 

The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 sets forth our responsibility to assist federal agencies in assessing the impacts of their undertakings on archaeological resources, which we do through review of development projects all over the state. We also work with a range of other state and federal laws. The most important of these state laws are Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) 12-3-52 and 12-3-80, which set forth the role of the State Archaeologist, and OCGA 12-3-621, which outlines landowner rights over the archaeological sites that they own. 



 What we do:

 - DNR Service (see:DNR Service)

Within our own Department of Natural Resources, we work closely with our agency's land managers to identify and protect archaeological resources on state-owned property. We have established strong, mutually beneficial relationships with DNR's Parks and Historic Sites, Wildlife Resources, and Coastal Resources Divisions.

We also work closely with agencies and organizations both inside and outside state government. Some of our most important public partners are the Society for Georgia Archaeology, the Georgia Council of Professional Archaeologists, the Georgia Council on American Indian Concerns, and the Georgia Archaeological Site File.

The Archaeology Section provides assistance to the public, offering technical advice, information, and educational opportunities related to archaeology.

 - Planning and Policy

The Archaeological Services Unit works closely with allied organizations in both the natural and cultural preservation fields to develop policies that benefit archaeological resources. Our office directly supports the Georgia Archaeological Site File at the University of Georgia as the official archaeological site registry for the state. 

 


General Information

(also see: Frequently Asked Questions)


 - Explaining Archaeology

Welcome to Georgia's Statewide Archaeology Site Protection and Education Program web page.  Archaeology is a science that focuses on learning about the past from the material remnants that people left behind. We are much like detectives putting together the scattered clues from a crime scene, except that our crime scenes are archaeological sites. An archaeological site is simply a place where people did something in the past. Our clues might be garbage from an 18th century trash pit, a broken pot made by an Indian 2,000 years ago, or a shipwreck.

What all these things have in common is that they have stories to tell that are not written down for us in books or other records. The average frontier housewife in 1740s Georgia didn't write down what her family ate, where they bought their goods, what their house looked like, or what types of illnesses they suffered from. American Indian cultures were pre-literate, so there are no written records at all about them until DeSoto made his entrance onto the world stage in 1540.  And people rarely take the time to write down what is happening when their ship sinks in a gale.

Consequently, the only way to know about the real lives of real people in our past is through archaeology.

 - Being a Good Steward of the Past

Archaeological sites are non-renewable resources. That means we have to be good stewards of those resources so that our grandchildren, and archaeologists of the future, can learn from them as well.  Being a good steward means not picking up artifacts from a site without making a record of where they were found and not selling artifacts, thereby fueling the looting of sites for profit. It also means never picking up or digging for artifacts on public lands or in public waters because those artifacts, and the sites they come from, belong to all Georgians. Georgia law prohibits digging artifacts from property you don't own without the written permission of the landowner, including state or federally owned lands.

As you browse our website, please remember that archaeological sites provide a window to our past.  We can be proud that Georgia, where people have lived for more than 12,000 years, has one of the richest archaeological records in North America. It is up to all of us as Georgia citizens to pass that record, and the lessons it holds, on to our children and grandchildren.

 


External Resources

  •  Videos

Archaeology - originally aired Friday, September 8, 2006
From sunken battleships and river boats to the burial mounds of long vanished native cultures to mysterious shell rings found on our barrier islands& archeology helps us to discover secrets of Georgia's history hidden beneath our soil and scattered along our waterways.

Monuments of the Past - originally aired Friday, October 31, 2008
Across Georgia, reminders of our states rich human history abound. From lighthouses to ruined factories and plantations to gravestones--- well take a closer look at some of these monuments of our past.  
 

  •   Classroom speakers

If you are interested in having an archaeologist come speak to school students:

· Contact a professional archaeologist in your part of the state or check with a nearby university for an available archaeologist or anthropologist. Due to staff and time constraints, our office is unable to respond to all the requests we receive for classroom presentations.
· A directory of professional archaeology firms you may contact is available in our Consultants Directory
· Contact the Society for Georgia Archaeology, the state-wide volunteer archaeology organization.

  •   American Indians in Georgia

Georgia is home to thousands of American Indians today, even though there are no large tracts of land reserved for Indian groups in Georgia, such as in some western states. The State of Georgia formally recognizes three tribes under Official Code of Georgia Section 44-12-300. The Georgia Council on American Indian Concerns was formed under Code Section 44-12-280 and is active in current Indian affairs in Georgia. There are two state-owned historic sites associated with the Cherokee Indians: New Echota  and Chief Vann House. Other state parks with prehistoric resources: Etowah Indian Mounds Kolomoki Mounds Historic Park  and Fort Mountain

  •   Report an Archaeological Site

The Georgia Archaeological Site File (GASF) is the official repository for information about known archaeological sites in Georgia from all periods of prehistory and history. Located on the campus of the University of Georgia in Athens, the GASF maintains a website containing the form to fill out to report a site and other information: http://archaeologylab.uga.edu/gasf/siteform.html or contact the office at: The Georgia Archaeological Site File, UGA Laboratory of Archaeology, 110 Riverbend Road, Athens, GA 30602-4702, phone: (706) 542-8737, gasf@uga.edu

  •  Web Resources and National Archaeology Organizations

· The Archaeology Channel
· The New Georgia Encyclopedia
· The Society for Georgia Archaeology
· The Archaeological Institute of America 
· The Society for American Archaeology
· The Society for Historical Archaeology
· American Cultural Resources Association