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Get ready to dig into Savannah with AASU archaeology series
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Armstrong Atlantic State University announces its first semester-long program devoted to archaeology, Digging Savannah.

The grant-funded program, led by archaeology and anthropology faculty members Barbara Bruno and Laura Seifert, will bring a number of noted leaders in the field, including the American Museum of Natural History’s David Hurst Thomas, to Armstrong to offer their expertise on a variety of archaeological marvels in the area, from Jenkins County to St. Catherines Island. All lectures begin at 6 p.m. in Armstrong’s Ogeechee Theatre, 11935 Abercorn St., and are free and open to the public.

The Digging Savannah lecture series kicked off Jan. 24 with Rita Elliott’s talk, “Savannah, What’s Under Your Feet?” Elliott, education coordinator and research associate with the LAMAR institute and lead archaeologist on the 1779 Savannah Battlefield project, addressed the wealth of intriguing secrets in the soil, why they are important and how they can be rescued them from being lost forever.

On Feb. 12, the American Museum of Natural History’s David Hurst Thomas will come to the Armstrong campus to illuminate the many mysteries of Georgia’s St. Catherines Island with his lecture, “Romance and Reality in Georgia’s Mythical Mission Past: How We Found the Lost Spanish Mission on St. Catherines Island.” This lecture addresses the nostalgia and romance that has long surrounded the Franciscan and Jesuit missions in America. This illustrated talk will draw upon the most recent archaeological evidence from St. Catherines Island and suggest a more historically appropriate perspective on America’s mission heritage.

Thomas has been the curator of anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York since 1972. The author of 30 books and myriad articles, he has also held teaching positions at Columbia University, New York University, University of California, Davis and the University of Florida among others.  Thomas also discovered and excavated the 16th- and 17th-century Franciscan mission on St. Catherines, the Santa Catalina de Guale.

Digging Savannah will go underwater March 27 with Chris McCabe’s “Georgia’s Archaeology Underwater: A Coastal Perspective.” McCabe, Georgia’s Deputy State Archaeologist-Underwater, developed the state Historic Preservation Department’s Archaeology Field Station in Savannah, recognizing where much of Georgia’s maritime heritage lies. The underwater archaeology field station oversees the investigation, management and protection of Georgia’s submerged cultural resources. McCabe’s talk will highlight the underwater archaeology program’s mission and responsibilities while examining a few significant regional projects, including shipwrecks and other maritime-related sites, along the Georgia coast.

The final lecture in the series on April 16 will feature Georgia Southern University (GSU) archaeologist Lance Greene and his talk, “Life in the Prison Pen: Archaeology at Camp Lawton.” “Life in the Prison Pen” will illuminate Greene’s work with GSU at the Confederate POW Camp Lawton in Jenkins County and what future excavations at the camp might uncover.

Future events in the Digging Savannah program will include a visit from the Society of Georgia Archaeology’s (SGA) Archaeobus, and the development of the DigSav app, a student-created smartphone app that will lead users through a walking tour of Savannah’s archaeological sites.

For more information on Digging Savannah, visit the web site and Facebook page. For location directions, see Armstrong’s interactive map.