The Beginning Of Charleston

Archaeologists are learning how South Carolina’s first permanent colony took shape.

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A European gold-plated brass cover for a wheel lock pistol depicting Adam and Eve. Credit: Patrick hall
A European gold-plated brass cover for a wheel lock pistol depicting Adam and Eve. Credit: Patrick Hall

Fall 2015: By Gail Crouch.

On a sultry spring day in the South Carolina Lowcountry, students from Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, and their instructors work in an excavation unit at Charles Towne, where the English founded the first permanent colony in South Carolina in 1670 on marshy Albemarle Point. Some 25 miles up the Ashley River, another group established a fortified settlement with a trading post known as the St. Giles Kussoe plantation.

The colony Carolina, which was populated by the English, Native Americans, and enslaved African, was not a royal enterprise run by the king. It was instead a venture by a group of individuals to turn a profit. And a profit was far from certain. While the Lowcountry’s (South Carolina’s coastal region) 18th– and 19th-century economies were based on lucrative rice, cotton, and indigo plantations, the 17th century was a period of trial and error during which the colonists searched for products that guaranteed their success.

Jon Marcoux, an archaeologist at Salve Regina University, is codirecting an investigation of the Charles Towne colony’s beginnings along with Andrew Agha, an archaeologist with the Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site. They’re focusing on two areas: the Miller site, which is located where the colony was founded, and the Lord Ashley site, where St. Giles Kussoe was established. The two sites “are two different aspects of the colonial experiment,” says Jon Marcoux.

Summary. Read More  in our Fall 2015 Issue of American Archaeology, Vol. 19 No. 3

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