Madison Square

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

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Savannah Under Fire?

I am frequently asked, why is the title of our project "Savannah Under Fire"? The answer is twofold. First, as the French and American Allies laid siege to British-held Savannah in the fall of 1779, the city was literally under fire. Mortars and cannons were fired into the city from the French fleet on the Savannah River and from batteries constructed south of the city. French and American troops also conducted sorties, attacking the British defenses surrounding the city.

Today, Savannah's archaeological sites are under fire from a less obvious source: development. It is a myth that archaeology holds up development. Once archaeology is properly integrated into the permitting process, it becomes simply another step in improving our city. Archaeology also has much to contribute to the culture of the city, just as the historic preservation movement has done wonders for Savannah.

Bull Street, just south of Broughton Street. Picture taken on 21 Feb 2010.

Close-up of the hole in Bull Street, note the brickwork.
Was an archaeological site destroyed here? I don't know. No one was allowed (or required) to check or document the area before work began. Unlike our beautiful live oaks, we cannot simply grow another archaeological site. Once it is destroyed, it is gone forever. Savannah still has archaeological sites long buried and waiting to share their history. Let's not squander them.

For more detailed information on the rate of destruction and the great potential of archaeology, please read the 7-page final chapter of our 2008 report on the first "Savannah Under Fire" grant available here, under documents.

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