The Archaeology Site at Green River Preserve

By Green River Preserve

Since 2012, there have been amazing discoveries through Archaeological investigations at Green River Preserve.

In the summer of 2012, 3 shovel tests were excavated in Girlsville near Spirit Winds cabin. The first two shovel tests were very shallow, only 15 cm in depth before sterile subsoil was exposed. The third shovel test was 60 cm in depth with several large rocks at the base of the shovel test, which appeared to be cultural. Notes and drawings were made and the shovel tests were back filled until future investigations could be made.


In 2013, a unit was excavated over shovel test 3 with the cluster of rocks at the bottom. A large ring of rocks was discovered at about 60 cm below the surface. It was a beautiful textbook example of a Native American fire ring, 2 rocks wide in a perfect circle with ash in the center and red clay around the outside of the ring of rocks. Several spear points were discovered during the excavation that dated the fire ring to the Savannah River era which is approximately 1000 BC to 4000 BC.

Another exciting find during the summer of 2013 was the discovery of a Gorget fragment at the GRP farm. A Gorget is a necklace adornment that the Native Americans wore as decoration and to protect the vital neck area in battle. This was an exciting find because the material of the Gorget was a sandstone found in the Tennessee/Ohio area some hundreds of miles away from Green River Preserve.

In addition to the Gorget, other examples of evidence of trade have been found on Green River Preserve. Many spear points and arrowheads have been found throughout The Preserve that are made from chert/flint which is found hundreds of miles away from this area.


During the summer of 2014, a survey was conducted at the GRP farm at the base of the mountain next to the Green River. Shovel tests were dug every 30 meters in a grid to determine the location of possible sites and the density of artifacts. During that survey, several shovel tests yielded evidence of fire rings.

Also during the summer of 2014, was the discovery of three bivouacs (rock shelters) near the base camp, marker trees pointing to those bivouacs, the documentation of the petroglyphs on Long Rocks, the Turtle Drums on Long Rock and Lower Balds, a possible Native American burial mound and the discovery of the location of a rock quarry near base camp used by the Native Americans to harvest the local rocks to make spear points and arrowheads.

The summer of 2015 was the year of lab work and networking. All of the artifacts that had been collected in the previous three years were washed and catalogued. Unit 1 over the fire ring had yielded over 1000 flakes, several performs and a few broken points. In addition, several regional archaeologists came to GRP to see the discoveries and brain storm about the possibilities for future excavations.

The summer of 2016 has been the first year that the campers have been able to participate in an Archaeology activity. The campers have been able to help dig shovel tests at the site in Girlsville where the fire ring was excavated in 2013. The campers have helped draw a site map and learn the reason for digging these shovel tests to determine the size of the site around the fire ring near Spirit Winds Cabin.


The campers have also been able to wash the artifacts collected in the shovel tests they excavated. While they were in the lab washing the artifacts, they learned about flint knapping (making a spear point from a core rock) and types of artifacts found on GRP from spear points and arrowheads to stone axes and gorgets.

The campers have shown incredible enthusiasm in wanting to learn about the processes of archaeology and the people that inhabited this area thousands of years ago. It has been an amazing experience for me to share the science of archaeology with the campers, and I look forward to exploring more of Green River Preserve in years to come with the campers. We can help each other to uncover the story of the past cultures and the people who shared this land thousands of years before we came to Green River Preserve.

-Martha Wallace