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Archaeologists Investigate Eroding South Carolina Shell Mound

Friday, April 14, 2017

South Carolina shell moundCOLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA—According to a report in The Post and Courier, a prehistoric shell mound on South Carolina’s Edisto Island is eroding rapidly due to recent damage from hurricanes and tropical storms. Some 100 years ago, the mound, which is made up primarily of oyster shells, was recorded to stand some 15 feet tall, while today only a three-foot portion of the mound remains. “We’re probably looking at a handful of months [before it’s gone],” explained archaeologist David Jones of South Carolina Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. While conducting salvage excavations earlier this spring, archaeologists from the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology discovered a pit filled with shells in the heart of the mound, known as the Spanish Mount. “Maybe [the mound] started out as a trash pit and they continued to dump,” added dig leader Karen Smith. Her team recovered a whelk drilled with two holes from a layer of whelk shells thought to have been eaten at a feast. For more on archaeology in South Carolina, go to “A Bold Civil War Steamer.”

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