The Beginning of the Topper Excavation Field School

This year, MSU has partnered with the University of Tennessee, the University of West Georgia, and the University of South Carolina to run field schools at the Topper site and surrounding areas. The MSU crew is working at the Swag Site, about a mile north of the Topper site.

I strapped a GoPro to the dash of the van and it took photos every five second. About half-way through you see where we had to make a side trip to pick up another student who had car issues in Atlanta. Driving a 15 passenger van through downtown Atlanta is an adventure. (The song is “Lights On” by Big Grams).

Tuesday we had an orientation, a tour of the Big Pine Tree, Topper, and Swag sites, and then started staging gear in the lab and at the site.

Martin Tour Martin Walker (University of Tennessee) describing excavations at Topper

Wednesday we laid out our first units on the eastern edge of the Swag Site (i.e. Swag East), where we found an several overshot/overface flakes during last year’s field school. The University of West Georgia crew are working on “Swag South” – an area that produced a biface with overshot flaking last year.

Swag Map

For the MSU crew, we laid out two perpendicular rows of 1x1m excavation units off of last year’s test unit because 1) I want to see a cross-section of the sediments in that area and 2) we didn’t want the students fighting for elbow room.

Swag East Sketch

So on Wednesday morning we opened up the units…

By Thursday they were getting the hang of it…

…and they also got to see a flintknapping demo by Stephen Williams, were fed by Dr. Goodyear, and got to hear Andy White give a presentation on his research.

By Friday, the MSU students got in a groove and peeled through several levels…

…and we capped off the week with sunset over the Savannah River.

Dr. Shane Miller

Assistant Professor of Archaeology