BHM Lunch and Learn to highlight Leake site Feb. 19
by Marie Nesmith
Feb 14, 2014 | 597 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Leake site will take center stage once more as Bartow History Museum revisits the ancient civilization Wednesday. At the venue’s Lunch and Learn program from noon to 1 p.m., Georgia Department of Transportation Archaeologist Transportation Planner Pam Baughman will present a lecture focusing on the site’s ground penetrating radar investigation.

“[We began using this equipment] when we started developing the trail with Bartow County and the city of Cartersville because we wanted to have a little bit more survey done, especially the areas that the city and county had preserved,” Baughman said, referring to surveys conducted around 2011. “The benefit of using this type of equipment to look into the ground is that it’s noninvasive, meaning that you’re not destroying anything [when using] the equipment because the basic concept of it is that it’s electromagnetic signals that are sent into the ground from an antenna that sort of pulls back and forth across the ground at different intervals.

“It’s kind of like a push lawnmower. So you just run it back and across in a sequence of squares that we call grids. It takes readings into the ground. The electromagnetic signal goes a certain distance into the ground and that distance usually depends on numerous factors — soil compaction, composition and other interference-type things. In that area, I think we [had] it between 1.5 and 2 meters into the ground and that would equate to 4 to 6 feet.”

Instead of detecting individual artifacts, Baughman said the ground penetrating radar enabled the archaeologists locate features, such as the remnants of houses or hearths, and areas that were excavated, including ditches and trenches.

“One particular feature that we were looking for with it at the Leake site was a ditch,” Baughman said. “During the excavations that they did in advance of the road widening, they found evidence of a ditch that was surrounding the mounds, almost putting them on an island. But it was unclear where that ditch really was. One of the girds that we did with the ground penetrating radar showed it perfectly.

“… That was a really neat finding for this site because we had seen it during the excavations. Then we were able to see it at a much larger scale and in 3D with the radar. … We do hope to go back and that is the unique opportunity that you have when sites like that are conserved and preserved like it has been by the city and the county. We can go back and continue to collect data there.”

In October 2013, a dedication ceremony was conducted for the Leake Mounds Interpretive Trail. Held near the intersection of Highway 113 and the Etowah River, the gathering introduced attendees to the 1.5-mile walking trail developed on Bartow County greenspace property, which also contains more than 15 information panels.

From 300 B.C. to A.D. 650, the Leake site was considered by archaeologists to be a vital ceremonial and economic center for societies residing across the Southeastern and Midwestern U.S. Propelled by the Georgia Department of Transportation’s need to widen Highway 113, 50,000 square feet of the historical site was studied along the road near the Etowah River in the 2000s. Two excavations — November 2004 to September 2005 conducted for the Georgia DOT and December 2006 carried out for the Bartow County Water Department — resulted in an abundance of artifacts, some of which include pieces of pottery and effigies, quartz, animal bone and stone projectile points.

While attending the Bartow History Museum’s Lunch and Learn program, individuals also can view the venue’s temporary exhibit, “Pieces of the Past: Bartow’s Leake Site,” which originally was going to conclude Feb. 28.

“We’re extending the run of the exhibit,” said Trey Gaines, director of the Bartow History Museum, 4 E. Church St. in Cartersville. “We’re going to close [the exhibit] March 22, so we’re keeping it open for a few more weeks. We’ve had a good response to the exhibit. People are coming out to see it and learning from it, learning more about where it is, because there’s a trail system around the site.

“… Primarily the artifacts in the exhibit came from the most recent archaeological excavations that took place out there around [2004, 2005], 2006 — in that time frame when the Department of Transportation was doing some research around the road being widened,” he said, adding the artifacts include pottery shards, arrow points, stone items and effigies. “… [Through this exhibit], I hope people come to a better understanding of our ancient past. This was a culture that existed here in what’s now Bartow County thousands of years ago. … So this is just a real important piece of our history that goes way back.”

For more information about the Bartow History Museum’s exhibits and programs, visit www.bartowhistorymuseum.org or call 770-382-3818. Entrance to the Lunch and Learn offering will be included in the regular cost of admission.