JSU Newswire
Jacksonville, Alabama

Archaeologists Make Incredible Discoveries in Foothills
of Choccolocco Mountain

Jamie M. Eubanks
JSU News Bureau

JACKSONVILLE -- January 26, 2001 -- Looking out for unexploded bombs and being careful not to get in the way of the “Men in Black….”

This may sound like a war zone in a foreign country. But it is actually a day in the life of students and faculty in Jacksonville State University’s Anthropology Department.

JSU was awarded a $130,997.00 contract by the Alabama Highway Department to perform a "phase three investigation of a cultural resource." In layman’s terms: They are being paid to study artifacts found on the proposed Anniston Eastern Bypass on areas of Fort McClellan. This area is in the foothills of Choccolocco Mountain.

Their job is to collect as much data as possible before the site is destroyed. “The artifacts we are studying are smack in the middle of where the bypass will come through,” says Dr. Harry Holstein, professor of anthropology at JSU.

But why all the talk of land mines and shells and secret police? There is the possibility of grenades, bombs and shells that have not been detonated. For safety precautions, each member of the archaeological team had to undergo military training to identify these hazards. There is also a military specialist on the site ‘round the clock.

Military police constantly patrol the area looking for trespassers and illegal hunters. We must remind the public that the area is strictly prohibited.

Despite all the safety measures, JSU faculty, staff and other trained archaeologists have made some incredible discoveries.

The site has produced numerous artifacts, such as spearheads that date to 8500-7500 B.C. The archaeologists suspect now that Native Americans were using this area as a place to gather stones to make their spearheads and other objects. This process is called flint napping.

Another interesting find was made on the site, but it had nothing to do with aboriginal peoples. An old homestead was found that possibly dates back to the post-Civil War era. At the homestead, broken pots, pieces of lanterns and old iron nails were found. There is also the likelihood that two grave sites lie behind the site.

Adjacent to the homestead a small industrial area was found. Archaeologists think it was used to extract iron ore or coal from the nearby hills.

Once all the investigating is complete, the team will file a report that will be available to the public. Many of the artifacts will be curated at JSU, but most of them will be sent to Moundville State Park in Moundville, Alabama.

Because of the growing demand for more space to accommodate our growing population, many of these sites are being destroyed. “Progress is progress,” comments Holstein. “There’s nothing we can do to stop it.”

In the meantime, all he and his team can do is try to beat progress to these important clues to our history before they disappear forever.


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