Field Work

Field work was conducted the week of August 8, 2022. A crew of professional archaeologists excavated shovel tests (~1 ft. x 2 ft., depth to subsoil) in private yards and available public spaces. Homeowners were conducted to obtain needed permissions, and to conduct mapping of underground utility lines that must be avoided. Processing of the finds will take place through the fall at the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology (SCIAA) in Columbia. Depending on the artifacts found, there may be follow up excavations later in 2022 or early 2023.

The search area, in what is now known as the The Point neighborhood, is bounded on the west by Carteret St. and on the north by Prince St. This area was chosen based on a thorough reading of the available documents, a map showing this area as a possible location, and the absence of evidence at Spanish Point.

How do we excavate the site?

The technique used is called ‘shovel testing’ and involves digging rectangular holes, hand dug to the depth of the subsoil (generally 1-2 ft.). All areas dug are returned to their original condition. Before digging, we arrange for Dig Safe (SC-811) to mark nearby utilities (gas, water, electrical), and care is taken by the crew to detect and avoid other obstructions, such as irrigation systems and significant roots. The plan is usually to excavate between 200 and 300 individual shovel test pits, scattered throughout the search area, using a specialized and insured crew of archaeologists who regularly do this type of work. Factors such as weather and property owner agreements to dig determine the final work schedule.

First the sod is carefully removed and put aside, then the soil scraped using a flat blade shovel, removed from the hole, and placed onto a screening device with plastic sheet laid underneath. When shaken, the soil falls through, and all remaining items are removed to labeled bags for later cleaning and analysis. The exact location of each shovel test ‘pit’ is recorded by GPS, so maps can be created. Once the subsoil layer is reached, digging stops and the soil is replaced in the hole with the sod laid back in place.

Prior to any actual excavation, Dr. Chester DePratter determined which properties and locations would be dug, and marked all selected locations with small flags. Only project staff and excavation teams were on private properties near the shovel test area(s), unless the owner was present accompanying any guests.