Experts in Milledgeville help identify artifacts

wcrenshaw@macon.comJuly 12, 2014 

MILLEDGEVILLE -- A group of amateur archaeologists, with help from the general public, strives to uncover the story of Middle Georgia’s past that is hidden in the dirt.

Saturday marked the eighth year that the Ocmulgee Archaeological Society has held Artifact Identification Day at the Old Capital Museum. People from around the midstate brought in arrowheads and various other artifacts they had found or acquired.

John McBride, president of the group, said they do it both to help people learn about what they have found and to document what has been found and where. Artifacts are typically found by landowners while plowing or working on their land.

“It’s good for us because we don’t have to get out and walk and find it,” he said. “We learn about what’s around area.”

They can identify the time period items were made by the style, especially pottery. McBride said the artifacts brought in represent a wide range, going back 12,000 years.

One item brought in Saturday that they were excited about was a small effigy of a human face carved in limestone. It was found in Bibb County and is believed to have been made by the Swift Creek Indians about 2,000 years ago. It had a peg at the base to fit down into a piece of wood. McBride said that was a rare find and it was the first time any of them had seen one like it.

The leading expert on arrowheads and pottery at Saturday’s event was Lloyd Schroder. He has written two books about the subject.

Schroder said the best way to find artifacts is to look for a place that would be a good for building a house or grow crops.

“A good house site is a good house site,” he said. “It was a good house site a 1,000 years ago and it’s still a good house site.”

He examined a collection brought in by Jason Graham, of Eatonton, who has hunted arrowheads since he was a boy.

It was the first time Graham had his finds examined by an expert, and he learned that he had arrowheads from a wide range of time periods.

“I had no idea they were that old,” Graham said. “He told me a lot of them were around 10,000 years old, and I was kind of amazed by that.”

Although Indian artifacts were the most common items brought in Saturday, the group also helped people learn more about other relics, including Civil War era items.

The society has artifact identification days in other communities, although the one in Milledgeville has been the most regular. At 1-4 p.m. July 26, members will have their first one in Houston County at the Perry Area Historical Society near the library.

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