Students and faculty hope to unearth remnants that help tell the stories of the men, women, and children who lived and worked as slaves during the antebellum era on the Fort Hill property of what now is the Clemson University campus.
Archaeologist and visiting sociology lecturer David Markus told South Carolina Radio Network that it is a hands-on experience for students. “An opportunity to train students in the department of sociology, anthropology and criminal justice at Clemson how to do an archaeological excavation.”
The Fort Hill property in the core of Clemson’s campus was home to the legendary and controversial U.S. Sen. John C. Calhoun and, later, the university’s namesake Thomas Green Clemson.
While the plantation owners’ time on the property is well-recorded, the lives of enslaved African-Americans are largely undocumented. “We’re looking for principally a couple of structures off of the west side of the plantation house,” Markus said. “Things like laundry, smokehouse, storage room, domestic slave quarters.”
The Clemson board of trustees in 2016 adopted the recommendations of its task force on the school’s history, which pledged to do more so that underreported lives are told, specifically those of slaves at the school and its previous plantation.
The next phase of the archaeology field school at Fort Hill is a two-week analysis course taught by Markus this summer. Students and faculty will document the material found and produce a report.