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Archaeologist to excavate in Pee Dee

FLORENCE, S.C. — A new Francis Marion University faculty member plans to unearth the Pee Dee’s history.

Christopher Barton, an archaeologist, is preparing for future excavations in the Pee Dee. Barton also is teaching classes in history and archaeology.

Barton said South Carolina is the center for historical archaeology in the states, but there is still much to be explored in the Pee Dee region specifically.

“I want to bring the Pee Dee and Francis Marion into that area and really help develop the archaeology of this area to show that the Pee Dee has stuff that people should be proud of,” Barton said.

Potential dig sites include sites associated with Gen. Francis Marion, such as Snow’s Island, and the Francis Marion campus. The land where the campus stands was once a plantation. Barton also will collaborate with Coastal Carolina University to work at Hobcaw Barony in Georgetown County.

Barton said that while not all parts of the past are pleasant, it is critical to spark discussions that will change mindsets for the better.

He plans to include university students and the community in his work. Barton said he has a unique set of skills, but he does not own history.

“My perspective is that you get as many people to come in and have talks and conversations about the past,” Barton said. “Through all these different conversations, it helps us lead to a better recreation of the past.”

This semester, Barton plans to give public lectures and speak with area historical societies and schools. As he introduces himself to the community, Barton wants people to know that they have a place in the archaeological process.

Barton said excavation is the shortest part of the archaeological process. Sites must be researched, maps drawn, equipment gathered and items cleaned and catalogued. While the workload is heavy, the thrill of discovery is what drew Barton to archaeology.

“You don’t know what is going to be under your next shovel,” Barton said.

Barton is channeling that fascination for discovery to his students this semester.

Whitney Timmons, a senior history major, said the tangible objects on Francis Marion’s campus affect the school’s history, the state’s history and even the nation’s history.

“Since, historically-speaking, this is a former plantation, it is important for us to actually dissect the things that are here,” Timmons said.

Elizabeth Floyd, a sophomore biology major, said experiences help her retain information. This semester she is most looking forward to going on class field trips and experiencing history through the archaeological process.

Barton will be in Ireland next semester on a Fulbright scholarship, but once he gets back, he will be ready to dig further into the Pee Dee’s past.

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