View Full Version : 12th Annual South Carolina Archaeology Month, the Parris Island Museum

10-05-03, 03:20 PM
Submitted by: MCRD Parris Island
Story Identification Number: 20031021368
Story by Cpl. Jennifer Brofer

MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C.(Oct. 3, 2003) -- With events being held statewide from September through October to commemorate the 12th Annual South Carolina Archaeology Month, the Parris Island Museum took part in the celebration by setting up a special temporary display, entitled "Sharing the Spirit of Discovery," to educate others on archaeology, as well as the Depot's rich, cultural heritage.

According Dr. Bryan Howard, Depot archaeologist and curator for the Parris Island Museum, the Depot has been inhabited for more than 4,000 years and is the site of some of the earliest European settlements of North America.

"Archaeological investigation into that rich cultural past has been going on here for [more than] a century," said Howard.

The first recorded dig on Parris Island took place in the 1850's when researchers teamed up to uncover an ancient gateway leading to what they believed to be the French Charlesfort of 1562, said Howard.

Charlesfort, a French outpost constructed on Parris Island in Port Royal Sound, was the first French settlement in the present-day United States. During the 1980's, archaeologists located its site on Parris Island.

According to Howard, the Marine Corps began sponsoring excavations on Parris Island in 1923 when Maj. George H. Osterhout supervised a dig at the Spanish Fort San Marcos, believing it to be Charlesfort.

In 1926, Governor Thomas McLeod, Secretary of the Navy Curtis Wilbur and Marine Corps Commandant Maj. Gen. John A. Lejeune dedicated a monument to the French colonists, which can still be visited on the site today.

Depot residents may even be walking on history without realizing it - history that was uncovered more than 24 years ago.

"Archaeological investigations on the Depot came into maturity starting in 1979 when Stanley South began exploring the now National Landmark site of the Spanish colony of Santa Elena (1566-1587), near today's golf course," said Howard.

A formal dedication of that designation will be held later this fall, he added.

Archaeology is an ongoing activity aboard the Depot, and now a part of everyday operations, said Howard.

"The Parris Island Museum staff works with federal, state and historical preservation offices to assist the Marine Corps in managing the many archaeological resources here and ensuring their preservation for the future," he said.

The Museum, which houses the special exhibit and permanent displays on local archaeology, is open from 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., daily with extended hours on Thursdays and Fridays of graduation weeks.