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Preliminary Archaeological Investigation at the Crooked River Site

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Preliminary archaeological investigations, consisting of detailed topographic mapping and limited test excavation, were conducted at the Crooked River Site (9Cam118) over a ten-day period during December 1983 and February 1984. The site is located on the southern Georgia coast within the extreme northeastern part of Crooked River State Park in Camden County (Figure 1). This location lies just north of the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Support Base, about 14 kilometers north of the town of St. Marys and 7 kilometers west of Cumberland Island. The site is bordered by salt marsh on its eastern side and is situated about 350 meters south of Crooked River and 100 meters west of an unnamed shallow tidal creek. The landscape of the Crooked River Site gently inclines from the marsh edge and is characterized by discrete and overlapping shell middens dispersed over an 8-hectare (20 acres) area within the dense vegetation of a live oak hammock. The extent of the site corresponds closely with the limits of Pottsburg soil as shown on the U.S.D.A. soil survey map (Rigdon and Green 1980:Sheet #78). A narrow nature trail winds its way through the site to provide park visitors access to the hammock environment (Figure 2). The purpose of the archaeological investigation was two-fold. First, a detailed topographic map of the site showing the distribution and extent of associated cultural features was required. This map would provide information critical to effective management of the site in future development plans for the park and also would provide basic scientific information necessary for future research, preservation, and interpretation. Quite simply, details concerning the form, internal arrangement, and extent of the resource are required if serious efforts are to be made to consider the site in the planning stages of either development or research. The second goal was to acquire needed information concerning the cultural associations and significance of the Crooked River Site. Although initially recorded during an archaeological survey of the Naval Submarine Support Base at Kings Bay, little time was devoted to the site because it was peripheral to the primary survey effort. Survey was limited to surface inspection and, as dense vegetation obscured the ground, few artifacts were encountered that would suggest a cultural provenience for the site (Smith 1978). The present investigation, therefore, includes controlled excavation of test pits in selected areas of the site to allow a preliminary determination of cultural associations, integrity, and significance.