“Unearthing the Past: Archaeology in Cherokee County” opened to the public Wednesday and runs until April 12.
The exhibit explores the last 80 years of archaeological investigations in Cherokee County, highlights some of the more than 1,000 archaeological sites in the area, and features rarely seen artifacts found in Cherokee, the Historical Society said.
The 50 objects on display are all from private collections and are on display for the first time. They represent more than 8,000 years of Native American occupation and include ceremonial objects, game pieces, weapons and tools, said Lisa Tressler, archivist for the Cherokee County Historical Society.
Tressler compiled the data and wrote the panels for the exhibit.
“Native Americans called Cherokee County home for 13,000 years. The Cherokee accounted for approximately 50 of those years. With this exhibit, we hope to open a window to the lives of not just the Cherokee but also these earlier cultures,” Tressler said in a release.
The museum is in the Cherokee County White Marble Courthouse and is a part of the work of the Cherokee County Historical Society.
Executive Director Stefanie Joyner said artifacts from the major archaeological sites are represented, including Long Swamp, Wilbanks Mound and Hickory Log.
“This is a great chance for the public to view these rare objects.” Joyner said.
Some of the items on display are from the collection of James “Skip” Spears of Ball Ground, who is well-known for his knowledge of local history.
Spears said he started collecting artifacts when he was a child.
“I started developing an interest when I found my first arrowhead or pottery, when I was hunting at age 10 or 12. I used to rabbit hunt and camp out at the lake,” Spears said.
He said in those days, when farmers plowed their fields, they would allow him onto the property to look for items that were unearthed.
“I started picking it up when people plowed fields. Then I started to put it together; most of the bowls were missing pieces because most areas had already been plowed. Unless they were deep, they had been plowed and broken,” he said. “When you find an intact piece that is really neat, that it has made it that long.”
Spears, a Canton businessman, said at one time, he wanted to be an archaeologist.
“For some reason, I have always liked arrowheads and log structures. It is also fun to find them. It used to be a game to find things,” he said. “Any time you find an ax head or celt, that is pretty exciting.”
Spears said a lot of artifacts were unearthed when the bridge in Ball Ground on Highway 372 was constructed.
“One of the neatest things was when they built the bridge in Ball Ground, it went right through the middle of Long Swamp,” Spears said.
Intact pottery is featured in the exhibit that was discovered by others, he said.
While at one time it was not illegal to find artifacts on public property, Joyner warns those who might want to start their own collections that is no longer the case.
“It is against federal law now to pick up artifacts on federal land and there are strict penalties,” she said.
However, certain artifacts found on private property are still all right to collect, she said.
The museum is located in Suite 140, 100 North St., Canton. Museum hours are Wednesdays to Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Admission is free.
of North Georgia, 1938-1940
As part of the effort by the Depression era Works Progress Administration to provide work for the unemployed, this survey was led by Robert Wauchope. In all, 31 sites were identified in Cherokee County. During this survey, Wauchope established the pottery classification system for Georgia.
Smithsonian River Basin, Survey 1946
A nationwide effort to build dams as flood and water control was planned by the U.S. Congress in the first half of the 20th century. The future Lake Allatoona basin was examined during a six-month period in 1946-47 by Joseph Caldwell of the Smithsonian. The survey located 180 sites in the river basin. They included simple stone chipping areas, temporary encampments, villages and towns.
UGA Wilbanks Site, 1948
Dr. William Sears from the University of Georgia, with locally raised funds, excavated the Wilbanks Site in the Sixes community.
Smithsonian River Basin, 1949
With the dam scheduled for completion in 1950 and at the urging of Sen. Richard B. Russell of Georgia, Congress approved $20,000 for the Smithsonian to begin excavations. Work began in July 1949, only six months before the area was flooded. One of the most significant locations excavated, Woodstock Fort (9CK85), was a double walled palisade found only days before the site was covered.
USCOE Allatoona Survey, 1985
During 1985 and 1986, the U.S. Corps of Engineers funded a surface survey to identify and protect the cultural resources of the Allatoona basin. In all, they identified 642 sites in Cherokee County and a total of 1,063 sites in the entire river basin, ranging from PaleoIndian to historic period (10,000 BC to AD 1940). The significance of the sites were then evaluated using the National Register of Historic Places eligibility criteria.