For a couple of weeks, a team from the Southeast Archaeological Center came to Frederica. The archaeologists on the team were studying an area of the town that has never been excavated. It was fun to send guests out to talk with them and to watch them work.
People love to talk about the things they are passionate about, and archaeologists are passionate about finding stuff buried in the ground. The team from the Southeast Archaeological Center laid out grids on the north side of town. Then they worked with ground penetrating radar to map the items under the soil surface. The radar looked like a lawn mower and one of the archaeologists patiently walked back and forth over acres of ground to cover all of it.
Two other tools the archaeologists used were new to me. They used an electromagnetic induction meter, which looks like a long, skinny box held over the ground. It measures the conductivity and magnetic susceptibility of items in the ground to a depth of five meters. The final tool looked like a wide stick with two prongs that the archaeologists stuck into the ground every foot. They would send a electronic wave into the ground and it would beep, then they would move on. The machine measured a different kind of magnetic field. There was also some surveying going on so that the grids were precisely situated.
I particularly enjoyed watching the archaeologists work around our guests. Sometimes the guests were so curious that the archaeologists didn’t get much done. Other times the guests would stand in the way of the archaeologists using the instruments. The archaeologists were very patient and good-natured. I think you have to be a patient person to do archaeology!
The mission of the Southeast Archaeological Center is to provide the best archaeological and collections management assistance possible to national parks and partners. Teams from the Southeast Archaeological Center travel to the national parks in the southeast, helping them with research, education, collecting artifacts, and managing the artifacts.
We are still waiting for the report on what the archaeologists found at Frederica. We do know that there was a large building in a part of the park that has never been excavated. At this time, however, we do not know what it was. It might have been a Spanish mission from before the British colonial days. It might be the remains of a barn from the Plantation era. The suspense is part of what makes archaeology fun.