Report flood-exposed archaeological sites

The recent historic flooding in South Carolina may have exposed archaeological and paleontological sites. The South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of South Carolina and the South Carolina State Museum are urging residents to report these potential sites to appropriate authorities for official identification.

To record these sites, the institute and other state agencies are embarking on a project called the South Carolina Archaeological and Paleontological Flood Impact Assessment.

Project researchers, who include state archaeologist Jon Leader and state underwater archaeologist James Spirek, will investigate known sites to assess potential erosion or damages caused by the floods, as well as respond to reports from the public concerning newly discovered sites exposed through erosion or scouring. The South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology has received several public reports concerning the exposure of underwater sites including some barges, a dug-out canoe and the fossilized remains of a mammoth.

The influx of water that caused major damage to houses, roads and bridges has eroded riverbanks and waterways, in areas that have been inhabited for hundreds of years. This could expose sites that predate recorded human history. 

“Due to the large volumes of water draining from the impacted areas in the Midlands and Lowcountry, we anticipate scouring and erosion to have exposed a variety of archaeological sites adjacent the banks. These may include Native American habitation sites consisting of pottery and lithic points, and other sites on the bottoms of the rivers that may have caused scouring at shipwrecks,” Spirek says. 

Additionally, the floods likely uncovered submerged fossil deposits in state waterways, he says. 

These new sites need to be assessed, documented and prepared for preservation. 

For artifacts and sites on land, contact Leader at 803-576-6560 or by email.

For artifacts and sites under or near water, contact Spirek at 803-576-6566 or by email.

For fossilized remains, contact David Cicimurri, curator of natural history at the State Museum, at 803-898-4946 or by email.

If you see damage to existing state monuments or markers, contact Elizabeth Johnson, the deputy state historic preservation officer, at 803-896-6168 or by email.

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