Our next archaeological field season is just around the corner (and this blog is a way for YOU to be a part of it as it is happening! Join this blog by clicking on “Follow blog via e-mail” (to the right, below) and entering your email address. Each time there is a new entry, you will receive an email message that will link you to the blog to find out new information and see any photos. The Lord Ashley site presents us with an incredible opportunity to learn about the early colonial history of our state – we hope you will explore it with us….
As part of Historic Charleston Foundation’s initiative to expand the Ashley River National Register District, a team of local archaeologists and HCF staff conducted archaeological testing and limited excavation in 2009 on a privately owned property along the upper reaches of the Ashley River in Dorchester County. There, archaeologists uncovered the foundation of one of the oldest – if not the oldest—brick structures in the Carolinas. The brickwork is a part of the 17th century settlement of Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper, one of the original eight Lords Proprietors of the Carolina colony. It was a fortified plantation and Native American trading outpost, actively used for just a decade, 1675-1685. This outlying settlement may be studied on its own and in relation to the contemporaneous first English settlement site in Carolina, today known as Charles Towne Landing.
Because of the pristine nature of the site and its importance to South Carolina and American history, a second phase of archaeological investigation took place at the Lord Ashley site in the summer of 2011 when the College of Charleston assisted by The Charleston Museum http://www.charlestonmuseum.org/home used the site for a portion of their bi-annual field school in historical archaeology http://sociology.cofc.edu/student-ops/field-schools.php. Funding by MWV made it possible for anthropology students from the College of Charleston to spend the last two weeks of the field school at the Lord Ashley site, following several weeks of excavation at Charles Towne Landing.
The third phase of archaeological investigation is taking place this summer with another College of Charleston archaeological field school. We are once again extremely grateful to MWV for their generous funding support. Further archaeological research at the site will increase understanding about our states origins and some of Charleston’s earliest inhabitants and will allow comparisons with similar archaeological features and artifacts. The interactions between the different cultural groups at the Lord Ashley Settlement will provide African Americans, Europeans, and Native Americans today a chance to reflect on how these dynamic groups interacted on this early Colonial settlement.
This summer, we also hope to positively identify the moat and palisade that surrounded the settlement, and to explore the cellar of at least one structure that was identified in the 2011 season. Later- the focus will move to analysis and study of artifacts such as early cow bones, colonoware and Barbadian ceramics. Additionally, we will undertake pollen and other ethnobotanical analysis to better understand the origins of Carolina agriculture and colonial diet.