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Article for March - April 2010

Features Tell A Story of Different Cultures

Archaeologist Demonstration - photograph by Phillip JonesThe Kolb site is loaded with what archaeologists call "features," below ground soil disturbances caused by the excavation of postholes and trash pits. All of the people that once called Kolb home—Native Americans, Africans and Europeans—excavated holes for the construction of houses, barns and fences, as well as for storage and trash pits.

By studying these features, archaeologists have been able to determine the location of the Johannes Kolb homestead. Kolb and his family were German immigrants who moved to the banks of the Great Pee Dee in the 1730s. Many people living in the area today can trace their ancestry back to Kolb and his children.

Features created by the Native Americans who lived on the site for thousands of years before the Kolb family arrived also hold clues to what their environment was like, such as evidence of the types of plants and animals they ate. Native American antler and bone artifacts, which are rarely preserved, have been recovered from the site. Analysis of these types of archaeological artifacts is ongoing.

Where Did Native Americans Get Their Rocks?

Showing Arrow head artifact - photograph by Sean TaylorThe Kolb site is situated on what is commonly referred to as the "dead river," an active channel up the Great Pee Dee until the end of the 19th century when a flood event caused the river to change course. The dead river has since silted in, and its bottom is no longer visible.

Stone tool flakes from the Kolb site often exhibit a cobbled surface, which indicates the raw material was collected from a river bottom. Investigations along the main channel of the Great Pee Dee located deposits of tool grade stone material identical to the flake artifacts recovered from the site. Archaeologists working in South Carolina once postulated that native peoples traveled into North Carolina to acquire acceptable tool stone from well-known terrestrial sources such as Morrow Mountain. But through the examination of artifacts from Kolb and the location of similar raw materials in the current river channel, many now believe that travel into North Carolina was unnecessary—rocks suitable for arrowhead making could have been obtained from the Great Pee Dee River itself.

Project benefactor Chip Helms first recorded the Kolb site and other sites on the preserve in 1975 and has been one of the driving forces behind the project's success. Helms would like to thank his parents for their role in nurturing his love of the land and its history. Additional information about the site and the Kolb project can be found on the Internet at 38da75.com. Or contact Sean Taylor at TaylorS@dnr.sc.gov or (803)734-3753.

Sean Taylor is the archaeologist for the DNR's Heritage Trust program and can hurl an atlatl like nobody's business.

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© 2010 South Carolina Wildlife Magazine, March - April 2010 - www.scwildlife.com 

 

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