2015 Fieldwork – March 9-14, 16-20, 2015

Public Day March 14, 2015 from 9am to 4pm

You are invited to join us for the 19th annual field season of the Kolb Site! Help us continue the long history of archaeological investigation in the Pee Dee by volunteering or visiting the site. The two-week excavation is staffed by professional archaeologists, students, and volunteers. We’ve invited a host of historic reenactors and primitive skills demonstrators for Public Day, and kids’ activities will also be available. We look forward to seeing you at the site!

Directions to site

This Year’s Demonstrators:

We will have demonstrations of African American lifeways, leatherworking, and reenactors in addition to our demonstrations by Fuz, Scott, and Keith. The South Carolina Archaeology Public Outreach Division (SCAPOD) will provide kids’ activities including pottery re-fit and sand stratigraphy.

Fuz Sanderson

Day long presentation focused on the interpretation of the prehistoric use of natural resources, specifically those items that do not survive the archaeological record. Demonstration includes; friction fire materials, pitch sticks, soapstone materials and other natural resources.

Keith Grenoble

Demonstrates prehistoric pottery manufacture, firing and use in cooking. Archaeological sites rarely produce whole vessels and the public interpretation of the site benefits greatly from seeing replicas of ancient pots and their use.

Scott Jones

General demonstration of primitive technologies. Demonstration will focus on interpretation of archaeological record, activities include: Flint knapping, Stone axes, Woodworking, Stone tool hafting and the Atlatl spear thrower.


The Kolb Site was the focus of South Carolina’s Archaeology Month, October 2011. Archaeology Month is sponsored by the University of South Carolina and the State Archaeologist’s office. See the schedule of events here: http://www.cas.sc.edu/sciaa/archmonth2011.html The Archaeology Month poster also features the Kolb Site. You can download a copy at the web site, or request a paper copy.



The 2010 season saw the completion of the excavation of a cellar feature thought to be related to the early 20th century saw mill and loggers camp at the Kolb site. Also in 2010 we continued excavating in a 4 x 4 meter square block excavation that we began in the 2008 season. We have been very carefully excavating this area by dividing the block into 64- 50cm squares each 5cm thick. At the completion of the 2010 field season, we were half way thru Level 16 for a total of 992 individual squares. Based on the recovery of a bifurcate point and a Palmer point in Level 15 we feel we are right about to get into a dense Early Archaic occupation (10,000-8,000 years ago), that we have identified in our excavation squares across the site.

The block has produced evidence of a number of occupations most notably a dense Late Woodland shell midden (700 AD-1200 AD), a sparse Middle Woodland Deptford component (2500 years ago) denoted by the presence of check stamped pottery, and a Late Archaic occupation with Savannah River points, Stallings Island fiber tempered ware and Thoms Creek sand tempered ceramics (ca. 5000-3000 years ago).

Numerous features have been discovered in the block including a deep storage pit filled with refuse and capped with mussel shell, a number of 19th century postholes and a posthole for the era of Johannes Kolb who lived on site from the early 1730s until his death in 1765.

Just east of the block we excavated a Woodland hearth feature in 2011. Ethnobotanical studies of this feature indicate folks at Kolb were eating corn, acorn, walnut, hickory nuts, and persimmon. A full list of plant foods discovered at Kolb and identified by Dr. Kandace D. Hollenbach of the Archaeological Research Laboratory at the University of Tennessee can be found in Table 1:

Table 1.Plant Remains Recovered from the Great Pee Dee Drainage Samples.

Common Name Taxonomic Name Seasonality Count Weight (g)
Acorn Quercus sp. fall 294 0.52
Acorn cf. Quercus sp. cf. fall 1 0.00
Acorn meat Quercus sp. fall 1 0.00
Acorn meat cf. Quercus sp. cf. fall 8 0.04
Black walnut Juglans nigra fall 9 0.14
Hickory Carya sp. fall 594 5.78
Hickory cf. Carya sp. cf. fall 8 0.04
Hickory husk cf. Carya sp. cf. fall 2 0.01
Walnut family Juglandaceae fall 32 0.26
Black gum Nyssa sylvatica fall 1 0.02
Grape Vitis sp. summer 1 0.00
Grape cf. Vitis sp. cf. summer 2 0.00
Hackberry, uncarbonized Celtis sp. fall 3 0.07
Persimmon Diospyros virginiana fall 1 0.00
Persimmon cf. Diospyros virginiana cf. fall 1 0.00
Persimmon seed coat Diospyros virginiana fall 6 0.00
Persimmon seed coat cf. Diospyros virginiana cf. fall 15 0.01
Edible Seeds
Bearsfoot Polymnia uvedalia late summer/fall 1 0.00
Maygrass Phalaris caroliniana spring/early summer 1 0.00
Corn cupule Zea mays late summer/fall 9 0.01
Corn cupule cf. Zea mays cf. late summer/fall 5 0.02
Corn glume Zea mays late summer/fall 1 0.00
Corn kernel Zea mays late summer/fall 1 0.00
Corn kernel cf. Zea mays cf. late summer/fall 6 0.01
Cucurbit rind cf. Cucurbitaceae cf. 2 0.00
Aster family cf. Asteraceae cf. 3 0.00
Bark 58 0.39
Bark/wood 6 0.08
Bedstraw cf. Galium sp. cf. 2 0.00
Bud 3 0.00
Cane Arundinaria sp. 8 0.01
Gall 6 0.00
Nightshade family cf. Solonaceae cf. 1 0.00
Pine cone Pinus sp. 53 0.19
Pine cone cf. Pinus sp. cf. 1 0.01
Pine needle Pinus sp. 1 0.00
Pitch 171 1.03
Spore clump 14 0.01
Stem 3 0.00
Unidentifiable 93 0.38
Unidentifiable seed 23 0.03
Unidentified seed 2 0.02
Wood, part carbonized 3 0.02


In 2009, due to the events of 2008 mentioned below we paid close attention to geoarchaeology, and invited experts to visit and consult. Drs. Mark Brooks and Christopher Moore of the Savannah River Archaeological Research Program and Dr. Terry Ferguson of Wofford College continue to work on soil samples collected at the Kolb site that year. We also found a large cellar feature that produced an 1896 Indian head penny suggesting it was related to logging activities in the early 2oth century.

In 2009 fieldwork began March 9 and ended March 20, 2009.   In 2008, we  broke out of our traditional mold of sampling with two meter squares and started excavating a four meter block. We hoped to take this to the base of the topsoil to try to expose enough features to trace out a house pattern. This year we will finish, hopefully.

Last year we were very pleased to find a  Dalton type point that is about 11,000 years old. We have fragments of points this age or older, but this is the first whole one we have seen. We plan to excavate units in the surrounding area in hopes of pursuing this early occupation.

In 2008 researchers presented a new theory on the ancient environment. They believe a comet impact caused a massive die-off in North America  about 13,000 years ago. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/323/5910/94  This year we will pay close attention to geoarchaeology, and have invited experts to visit and consult.

In the 2008 field season  we also recovered a small, coin silver spoon engraved with the initial E over LB. Johannes Kolb’s granddaughter Elizabeth Kimbrough married Lemuel Benton around the time of the American Revolution, so it is assumed that these are their initials.

Colonial silver expert Grahame Long believes that this is a Colonial piece, if not Southern, and that it dates between 1720 and 1740. Further, he says it would not be unusual at all for a family to “update” an existing heirloom for a wedding gift.

Johannes Kolb was a German from a Mennonite family who settled in southeastern Pennsylvania around 1700. He and his brother Dielman moved south in the 1730s with the Welsh Baptists who were granted lands in the “Welsh Neck.” Hard coinage was in short supply at that time, and often a family’s assets would be stored in the form of silverware and passed down through the generations.

This artifact provides us with a clue for understanding the site’s history. We know that Johannes Kolb was there in the 1730s, but he seems to have died by about 1760. Archaeological evidence shows a continuing occupation that lasts at least until the American Revolution, then appears to pick up again in the 1820s – 1860s era.

The documentary record is not helpful, because the only time the property changed hands, and a deed was recorded, was in 1849 when Bright Williamson passed it along to his son, Thomas. It has been speculated that the property was passed down in the family, but to which family member it was not known. Now we can argue that it was passed to granddaughter Elizabeth through her mother, Hannah. The Kimbrough, and later Benton lands abutted the Johannes Kolb property on the north and west sides. The people who worked the land and lived here after Johannes Kolb’s death were probably slaves and overseers. His son’s Peter and Martin had farms of their own, across the river on what is now Byrds Island.

Col. Lemuel Benton was born in NC in 1754, but came to the Pee Dee region before the American Revolution. He became a major in the Militia in 1777 and served with Francis Marion in the war. He served as a member of the state house of representatives in the 1780s, and as a US Congressman in the 1790s. He was related to Thomas Hart Benton, senator from Missouri, and grandfather of the artist of the same name.


During the 2008 field season we were very pleased to find a Dalton type point that is about 11,000 years old. We have fragments of points this age or older, but this is the first whole one we have seen. We planned future excavation units (2009-2010) in the surrounding area in hopes of pursuing this early occupation.

In 2008 researchers presented a new theory on the ancient environment. They believe a comet impact caused a massive die-off in North America  about 13,000 years ago. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/323/5910/94

SEAC Grant

In 2007 we were honored to receive a grant from The Southeastern Archaeological Conference (SEAC) to assist with our public education efforts. Our grant report can be found at the link.

A public outreach and educational site.


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