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Community Engagement Highlights

Community Engagement Updates

  • We are excited to share that we have begun conversations and engagement with African American communities who have cultural ties to the archaeological collections at the Lab.
  • We are currently working to link Tribal land maps to our community engagement page for easy viewing.
native garden

Petroglyph Boulder & Native Garden

Decades ago, two petroglyph boulders were donated to the University of Georgia. Adorned with spiral designs, and other motifs, these boulders are a testament to Georgia's Native American heritage. Our goal is to better protect these unique objects of Native American history, create a dedicated and permanent space at the University of Georgia's Laboratory of Archaeology, as well as educate the general public about Native heritage and culture throughout the state.

Working together with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, our plan includes the rehousing of the smaller petroglyph boulder inside our atrium, a task that has now been completed, as well as the development of an outdoor green space.

This outdoor space would host a Native garden full of indigenous plants of Georgia, a bronze arbor, designed by Muscogee Creek tribal artist Dan Brook, and the larger petroglyph boulder, as well as an additional learning landscape focused on an instructional area and "dig pit" to train budding young archaeologists in the science of investigating the past.

If you would like to help with the creation of this new learning experience and supporting Georgia’s Native American heritage, click here to donate to the Laboratory.


Renovations at the Laboratory

In June of 2021, the smaller petroglyph boulder in front of Baldwin Hall was moved to the Laboratory and in 2022 we continued to work to renovate the atrium to highlight this petroglyph boulder, including its history and the history of the Indigenous people who have ancestral homelands to Georgia.

Advances in Archaeological Practice

We are very excited to share a collaborative publication in Advances in Archaeological Practice titled “The NAGPRA Nexus, Institutional Integrity, and the Evolving Role of Archaeological Laboratories.”  Beginning in 2019, the Laboratory staff renewed their initiatives with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and engagement with descendant tribal communities that became the catalyst for change in the Laboratory's philosophy as a curation repository.

This shift in thinking set the Laboratory on a path toward building a descendant community–informed institutional integrity (DCIII) level of engagement with consultation and collaborative efforts in all aspects of collections management and archaeological research.

This article outlines the steps that the Laboratory has taken toward implementing meaningful policies and practices created with descendant Tribal communities that both fulfill and extend bounds of NAGPRA compliance. Click here to read the article!

brooklyn cem

GPR at Brooklyn Cemetery

Established in 1882, Brooklyn Cemetery was one of the first African American cemeteries in Athens, GA. In honor of MLK Day of Service 2023, current Laboratory staff and UGA Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Hally, volunteered to investigate Brooklyn Cemetery using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) in an effort to rediscover unmarked grave sites. This investigation, coordinated with the service organization, Friends of Brooklyn Cemetery, resulted in the finding of many unmarked burials and assisted the organization with their continued mission to restore the rest ground of Athens residents.

vdt cherokee sym

10th Annual Cherokee Archaeological Symposium

Laboratory Director, Dr. Victor Thompson, presented a paper titled “Considering Democratic Institutions in the Ancestral Homelands of the Southeastern Tribal Nations” at the 10th Annual Cherokee Archaeological Symposium in North Carolina. This annual event is hosted by the Tribal Historic Preservation Office – Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (THPO-EBCI) and allows for professional archaeologists, government agencies, and educators to present their research and exchange information with Cherokee tribal and community members.

Laboratory Lecture Series

“The Intersection of Archaeological Science and Tribal Perspectives” 2021-2022 series included presentations regarding the basics of several specialized archaeological science techniques and how those can intersect with tribal perspectives regarding sampling, destructive analysis, consultation, and NAGPRA. Each lecture concluded with input from various tribal discussants from the Muscogee Nation, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and Seminole Tribe of Florida.

This series was for students and professionals who wanted to learn about some of the specialized methods employed in archaeological investigations and how they can be better integrated with tribal interests.

Check out more information and links to our speaker presentations on the Laboratory Speaker Series webpage.