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Archaeological dig this week at state historic site

MCCLELLANVILLE, S.C. (WCIV/AP) -- A weeklong volunteer archaeological dig is underway at the Hampton Plantation State Historic Site on the Santee River between Charleston and Georgetown.The excavation, which began Monday, focuses on uncovering what is thought to be the brick foundation of old slave cabin on the one-time rice plantation.Since beginning five years ago, state archeologists and volunteers have dug into history over hundreds of square feet of what is thought to have been plantation's slave row.The main attraction at the site is the large white plantation house owned by five generations of the Horry-Rutledge family from the 18th century until 1971 when the state acquired the property.Archaeologists along with volunteers spent Monday excavating part of a slave quarters that was discovered on the property years ago. Under blue skies and among the pine trees in McClellanville, archaeologists and volunteers hard at work chipping away at a piece of history."We are excavating part of a slave quarters which we found about five years ago now," said David Jones, Archaeologist for State Park service. "We are sort of operating under the assumption that this may be an area where the Horrys housed their specialized workers. They owned several plantations so it's possible they had their specialized workers living here; tailors, seamstresses, coopers, masons, carpenters, that sort of thing."But there are still many questions to be answered which is where Stacey Young, the site archaeologist, comes in."Our first goal was to expose the entire foundation of the house to get an idea of how big it was, how it was constructed. So now we are starting to work on the interior of the house," said Archaeologist Stacey Young. "We were trying to see was there any evidence of a central partition or any difference in the things that they had. All the dirt that we excavate from the units we screen it and basically anything that we find that doesn't fall through we collect, so I'm sifting the dirt, picking up the artifacts that are in there. Everything will get bagged up and we will take it back to lab and wash it and then do further analysis."So far the crew has found a wide range of items."Broken plates and bowls that the slaves were using, different size nails. This is kind of cool they just found a thimble over here," said Young.These bits and pieces of history are slowly being discovered thanks to the meticulous work of those not afraid to get their hands dirty."We do this dig twice a year. We follow the spring break and fall break for the colleges to try to get the college students to come out and help so it's for two weeks during the year," said Dale Purvis, Park Manager at Hampton Plantation.Historians say as many as 340 slaves may have once lived on the plantation.It's a task Anna Hayes is thrilled to be a part of."It's actually really awesome, kind of like a history buff so the fact that we are here looking at stuff from an old slave house is really cool," said Anna Hayes, a UNC-Charlotte student.The team will finish up this week and left in its place will be a sign helping visitors to the Plantation visualize what stood here in the 18th century.There will be an Archaeology Day on Saturday, March 7. There will be an open house and guided tour from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. followed by a mini lecture series that night.For more information, click{}here.???
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