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Archaeology Survey along the Upper Savannah River; Including Underwater Investigations at the Rembert Mound Group

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In August and September 1990, 38 person-days of fieldwork were spent in intensive archeological survey of approximately 440 acres of upland terrain and two miles of shoreline and channel immediately below the Russell Dam along the upper Savannah River in Elbert County, Georgia. The survey area, to be affected by the proposed Russell Dam Tailrace Dredging Project, included ridgelines adjacent to the river, upland flats farther away, and shoreline and channel bottom deposits in the upper reaches of Clark Hill Lake. A total of 48 archeological sites were found during the project: 14 in the upland tract, 33 along the shoreline, and one adjacent to the submerged river channel in the lake. The upland sites included late-19th- and early-20th-century farm/tenant complexes on level terrain near drainage channels, as well as prehistoric lithic scatters located primarily along the ridgelines and knolls near the river.

The sites along the shoreline, which were all prehistoric, were found on the lower slopes of the ridgelines overlooking the floodplain, on sloping terrain that is not typically examined during cultural resource management surveys in the Georgia Piedmont. Although most of the sites represent limited activity areas, appreciable use of the floodplain/ridgeline margin, specifically the lower ridge slopes, is indicated during the prehistoric era.

Underwater reconnaissance at the presumed location of the remnants of the Rembert Mound Group under the waters of Clark Hill Lake located a dense scatter of Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian period remains, indicating the mound area was occupied throughout much of prehistory. A side-scan sonar survey of the channel bottom for six kilometers below the base of the Russell Dam did not locate evidence for submerged cultural resources in the area to be affected by the proposed construction, although submerged house foundations were found at the junction of the Broad and Savannah rivers where the town of Petersburg was located.

Three of the archeological sites in the project area (9EB108, 9EB429, and 9EB513) require additional testing to determine whether they are eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). These sites include a historic tenant farm complex, an upland lithic scatter, and the presumed submerged location of the Rembert Mound Group. One other site (9EB195) is a historic cemetery that should be avoided. The remaining sites are considered ineligible for inclusion on the NRHP, and no further work is recommended at them.