Paper No. 5-17
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM
RECONSTRUCTING ARCHAIC LANDSCAPES IN THE SANDHILLS: A GEOARCHAEOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF EOLIAN DEPOSITIONAL ENVIRONMENTS AT FORT BENNING, GEORGIA
Climatic and landscape site reconstructions are essential to archaeology. Because the modern landscape at any site can be significantly different than it was at the time of original deposition, landscape reconstruction is important for understanding environments during past occupation. Within the inland Southeastern Coastal Plain, landscapes shaped by episodes of Pleistocene eolian dune activation have been relatively well-documented. Recently, studies have also suggested evidence of Holocene eolian activity in the Sandhills physiographic region. However, the timing, intensity, and geographic spread of Holocene eolian deposition remain poorly understood. Archaeological site 9CE1041, Fort Benning, Georgia is an ideal location to test for potential Holocene eolian activity because it lies in a topographic saddle between two sandy uplands. The site contains archaeological evidence of Archaic Period (11,500-3,000 BP), Woodland Period (3,000-1,100 BP), and later occupations buried within sandy sediments. Through the study of sediment samples from this site, the depositional environment of the site was reconstructed. In conjunction with the artifacts collected, the sediments from stratigraphic column samples were analyzed, and the particle-size distribution and carbon content as estimated by loss-on-ignition were compared. Preliminary results indicate that artifacts were buried by primary deposition during episodes of Holocene landscape instability. Trends in granulometry suggest alternating periods of surface reworking and environmental stability during the Archaic Period. Additional sedimentological analyses, in combination with optically-stimulated luminescence dating, may help distinguish whether the Holocene sedimentation was a result of eolian, colluvial, or bioturbative processes.