Archaeology at an Aquarium?

Next up in our second student series is Rebecca Hinely, who loves taking her kids on field trips. This week she was surprised to find archaeology in an aquarium.

Archaeology at an Aquarium??

I took my children to visit the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium and was pleasantly surprised. Not only do they have a beautiful array of marine animals but they also have a section dedicated to archaeology of the Grove’s Creek area.
It was known that Native Americans inhabited the area but there was very little visible evidence. In 1986 Larry Babits, a local* archaeologist, began excavating Grove’s Creek hoping to find evidence of the wattle and daub construction that was used. Not only did he find what he was looking for, but he found many other interesting artifacts as well. These artifacts were curated, and some were set out for display at the aquarium.
Along the wall when you first enter sits a display of Native American artifacts ranging from tobacco pipes to Irene pottery dated between 1300AD and 1550AD. Some of the pottery is in such good condition you can clearly see the complicated stamped design on the outside. Several pieces even had the Filfot Cross design that was popular during this cultural period.
On the opposite wall is a fossilized Atlantic gray whale mandible that was found on JY Reef just off the coast of Georgia. This mandible was carbon dated to be approximately 41,000 years old. The display thoroughly explains the process of excavating underwater and how the mandible was dated, stored, and reassembled.
Thanks to these archaeologists (and their student helpers) we are able to understand our past a little better, and thanks to the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium, we are able to physically see it.

*Editor’s Note: Larry Babits was an Armstrong professor when conducting these digs. He is currently Professor Emeritus at East Carolina University.

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