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      Digging up the past in Darlington County

      Archaeologists are deep in the forest on five acres in the Mechanicsville community of Darlington County, digging, scraping and searching for answers into life there 12,000 years ago.

      Questions like, "What can we learn from the artifacts that we dig up? What do they tell us about people here? What their lives were like? What were they doing here?," said Sean Taylor, Archaeologist, Department of Natural Resources.

      Researchers started getting answers to those questions in 1996, when they began the first excavation project on the site.

      It wasn't just a wooded area in 1740, the land was home to Johannes Kolb and his family.

      "Johannes Kolb was a German settler who came over to Pennsylvania in the early 1700's," Taylor said. "Then he came south and brought his family with him and settled on this little piece of land."

      But the Kolbs weren't the first settlers. Archaeologists have learned Native Americans lived on the land and left behind pottery and hunting tools buried in the ground.

      "Native Americans have used the site for 12,000 years . The work that we've done initially looking for Johannes Kolb and where his family lived has also shown us that the Indians have been here in historic times," said Taylor.

      After the Kolbs, African American slaves settled on the land.

      "We know that through historic record the land had changed hands in the 1800's and there was African American slaves living out there throughout the 1820's to the 1860's," Taylor said.

      Archaeologists say the project has really evolved over the past 16 years. They say the artifacts have taught them a lot, and the project has also helped to educate the public. Every year, they welcome school-age children to come and volunteer and actually get their hands dirty working with researchers.

      Brantlee Taylor of Batesburg and her two children are helping out. She says the field work is very educational to her kids

      "Today allows me to put my children's actual hands on their education opportunity. So, it's vital. It's vital for them, it's vital for every child in this state," said Brantlee Taylor.

      The archaeologists couldn't agree more and say they plan to get more kids involved for next year's dig. They want to help children learn about the different artifacts at the site and the science of archaeology.