In 2011, I was a sophomore at the University of Tennessee. I was enrolled in my first archaeology course when I found out about a spring break field work opportunity for undergraduates at the Topper Site in Martin, South Carolina. I arrived at the site without a clue what this experience was going to be like or where it was going to take me. The Archroma property (then, Clariant property) was incredibly beautiful and I made some amazing friends, but it was the Clovis assemblage that won me over, and I promptly became an Anthropology major upon returning to Tennessee.
Now, as a graduate student, my thesis research is centered around an area just North of Topper on the same piece of property owned by Archroma. While work has been done in many areas on the property over the last 30 years by Dr. Al Goodyear, a systematic survey of the property has never been done. The goal of the survey field school was to systematically survey an area of the property just north of the Topper site to test whether there are other deeply buried archaeological deposits on the property. With the help of 14 graduate and undergraduate field school students, 50 cm diameter, 1 meter deep shovel tests, stratified in 25 cm levels were placed at 30 meter intervals across the research area. Within 2.5 weeks, the dedicated group of students had covered the majority of the research area with 459 shovel tests.
Jonathan Belanich and undergraduate Ariel Johnson were excited to dig a 1.51 meter deep shovel test when they encountered deeply buried lithic debitage
Allendale chert outcrops are in several locations on the property, so it came as no surprise that most of our shovel tests were positive for lithic debitage. Although most of our shovel tests produced some artifacts, we were able to identify a few areas that had potential for deeply buried deposits. In the remaining two weeks of the field school, we returned to some of these areas and excavated eight 1×2 meter test units in 10 cm levels to assess the stratigraphy in these locations. These test units produced promising results, and hopefully these sites can be examined more thoroughly by future MSU field schools.
Natalie Birch excavates a 1×2 meter test unit
As a field school, this project was excellent. The amenities at the Archroma campsite are excellent for supporting large groups. The students were able to experience both phase I and phase II archaeological investigations. Due to the ubiquity of artifacts, the students were able to learn some of the basics of lithic analysis. Additionally, students learned that their hard work can pay off in big ways; they won two bets against Dr. Miller and got a trip to the beach (46 shovel tests in one day) and a free lunch while at the beach (55 shovel tests in one day).
As far as my thesis research goes, the piles of tubs full of artifacts are evidence that I have my work cut out for me.
Archaeology Graduate Student