This site is dedicated to the Rhodes College Archaeology Program’s ongoing research at Ames Plantation. Please feel free to familiarize yourselves with the exciting results of the 2007 season via the daily blog link as we prepare for a productive, intriguing season of digging in 2008. We hope you will consider joining us in the field!!
Since its creation in 2005, the Archaeology Program at Rhodes College has quickly grown into a vibrant interdisciplinary center for faculty and student research concerning the ways in which material culture informs and shapes social, economic and historical forces. The Program features courses in art history, the archaeology of Greece, Rome, the Near East, Egypt, and North America, prehistory, hominid evolution, death and burial, GIS, archaeological methods, material culture theory, as well as the chemistry of archaeology and art.
The Program currently sponsors two major excavations in which Rhodes students and faculty are welcome to participate.
(1) The Ames Expedition and Field School
The Field School, which students affectionately call “Fossil Camp” at Ames Plantation, is located about 50 minutes east of Memphis. Rhodes Professors Ryan Byrne and Milton Moreland have begun a project addressing two principal areas. The first focus is the elucidation of nineteenth-century plantation life from the material perspectives of both slaves and slave owners. The second focus concerns the prehistoric period of the Mississippian culture in the area from about 1000 years ago, when local chiefs conscripted labor to build four large ceremonial mounds on the Ames property. Students participating in the Field School get to work at the plantation sites as well as the mounds, ensuring that they receive a broad exposure to the historical study of exploitation that forms the common thread of the historical and prehistoric projects.
Students expose the root cellar at the manor house of Woodstock Plantation.
(2) The Zion Cemetery Project
Moreland and Byrne also oversee the archaeological recovery and conservation of the Zion Cemetery in Memphis. With 22,000 burials over 17 acres (mostly overtaken by brush and forest), Zion is the oldest recorded postbellum African-American cemetery in the Mid-South. We believe its gradual renewal and examination will shed important light both on the origins of the inland community of nineteenth-century Memphis and the obscure burial customs among early Mississippi River port cities.
Under Dr. Moreland’s direction, Rhodes students provide service to the community by clearing foliage from around historic gravestones.