Madison Square

Madison Square
Savannah Under Fire archaeologists work in Madison Square, Savannah, GA, surrounded by visitors and citizens interested in our dig.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


You may recall that in a previous post I discussed our minimal success in finding archaeology sites from the 1700s. We spent much of our first three weeks of fieldwork focused on finding where the American and French armies camped during the Siege of Savannah. We have maps showing the approximate locations, but no solid leads yet.

Map of the 1779 Siege of Savannah, from the Coastal Heritage Society Collection.

Finding the soldiers' camps is difficult for several reasons.

1- Our method of locating sites is georeferencing historic maps in GIS. Translation: I use a computer program called ArcMap to match up historic maps with a modern map of Savannah. However, when we line up the maps, our matching points are all located downtown. So as the historic maps is stretched and resized the edges can become distorted and somewhat inaccurate. This is why we were so successful finding sites downtown, but have had much less luck mid-town.
2- Historic maps simply are not as accurate as modern maps. We have looked at almost 30 historic maps and each varies. Some of the maps even conflict with each other.

3- The camps were only occupied for several weeks. The soldiers would probably have only lost or discarded a minimal number of artifacts.

4- As Savannah grew and more land was developed, the sites may have been destroyed or buried very deeply under lots of soil, making them hard to reach.

5- We have dug small pits called shovel tests in seven parks throughout mid-town Savannah looking for the camps with little success and without finding any military artifacts. This technique is limited in the area we can cover and the depths we can reach. Metal detectors are frequently used to find military sites because of the high percentage of buttons, bullets, and gun parts on military sites. But in modern Savannah, we have found that there is too much modern trash for this technique to work. We do find pennies and nickles though.

Therefore, we need your help to find these sites. Have you ever found any artifacts in your yard? Send us pictures of these artifacts and the address where they were found to We would be happy to give you more information about the artifact if possible.

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