Digging SC history at archeological site

As volunteers are finding out this week in Darlington County, you can learn a lot by digging in the dirt.

For two weeks each spring, students, professionals and everyday folk come to the Great Pee Dee Heritage Preserve near Mechanicsville to uncover a few things about South Carolina's history.

"Most people have no idea what's beneath their feet and this gives them a great opportunity to see what is out in their backyard," said SC Department of Natural Resources archeologist Sean Taylor.

The DNR hosts the annual dig that's near the site where a German settler named Johannes Kolb made his home in the 1740s.

Will Britz, a recent archeology graduate at the University of South Carolina, is among those getting his hands dirty this week.

"We found a lot of nails, a lot of brick, we found some chain links, different things like that. Some glass, some ceramics," said Britz.

Britz and the others are not just looking for recent history, but ancient prehistory.

One of the big finds Wednesday were pottery shards from early Native Americans.

"It's been dated to 4,000 years ago," Taylor said.

The Kolb site is rich in what Taylor calls features; things like post holes dug by early American settlers or storage pits from some of the first humans on the continent.

Whether it's a tiny button that's 200 years old or a pottery shard from thousands of years ago, every artifact they find is exciting and each one has a story to tell.

"We're out here looking for things that can tell us more about the past and what people were doing, what their lives were like for the last 12,000 years," said Taylor.

He says the annual dig is more than just finding cool things to put in a museum. It's about learning how our ancestors progressed through the years.

The 17th annual Johannes Kolb Archeology and Education project continues through this week, with the public invited this Saturday.