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ArchaeoFest seeks to educate the public as part of Georgia Archaeology month

Good old Indiana Jones. After a 19-year absence, he’s back on the screen just in time for Georgia Archaeology Month. Organizers of the event think interest in the fictitious archaeologist will spark renewed interest in archaeology.

Georgia Archaeology Month is celebrated in May, and this year’s theme focuses on the Spanish Period in Georgia. The Coastal Heritage Society will celebrate with the return of ArchaeoFest, set for May 31 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Battlefield Park, located at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Louisville Road.

CHS archaeologist Rita Elliott is the event’s organizer. “We have two new activities this year,” she says. “One is an addition to the culture tent. Last year, we had all sorts of really cool pictures of things from different cultures. This year, we’re adding spices from around the world. It will be more interactive and will ask everyone to use their sense of smell to guess what country the spice came from.”

Also new this year is an activity called Digtective. “They don’t actually get to dig -- it will be more like CSI,” Elliott says. “They’ll have to use clues from the site and lab to figure out what the artifacts are.”

One of Elliott’s goals is to focus on archaeological activities other than digging. “It’s important to note that digging is just the tip of the iceberg. Archaeologists study soil samples, plants, and do a whole range of things in the lab, trying to extract information about the artifacts.”

It might seem that ArchaeoFest is geared towards children, but Elliott says the event is designed for people of all ages. “We’re trying to focus on activities, hands-on things, that encourage inter-generational learning. Children can do these things, but the caregivers with them are also engaged.”

Elliott says Georgia Archaeology Month provides a valuable opportunity. “We see so much about archaeology, but a lot of it is Indiana Jones and the Hollywood version,” she says. “If we’re able to educate the public about what archaeology really is, people will recognize the importance of archaeological sites. If people recognize their importance, we’re one step closer to preserving them.”

Development is the biggest threat. “We have a wonderful range of archaeological sites in Georgia from 12,000 B.C. all the way to 50 years ago,” Elliott says.

“There are Native American, African American, rural, domestic, a whole range. There are about 50,000 sites in Georgia,” she says. “Because we have such a wealth in numbers and diversity, as development increases, more sites are being impacted and destroyed than ever before. Wise stewardship of archaeological sites doesn’t have to mean no development. It means we study first, then let the development proceed.”

Jocelyn Xamis, CHS director of special events and projects, says the variety of events will intrigue everyone. “Parents can really get into this. They even have one exhibit about what garbage tells archaeologists.”

Archaeologists will be on hand to answer questions. “This is something the public should be aware of,” Xamis says. “There aren’t a lot of Revolutionary War sites, and we’re lucky to find these artifacts here and document them.”


When: May 31, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.Where: Battlefield Park, MLK & Louisville Rd.Cost: $6 adults, $5 children, under 6 free

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