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College of Arts & Sciences
Maritime Research Division

Photo Courtesy of CNN

Hurricane Matthew

Matthew Rocks South Carolina and New Archaeology is Exposed

By J. Irwin

Hurricane Matthew has come and gone. While we are still recovering along with the rest of the east coast many of the archaeological and paleontological sites in the state will never be the same. We have heard from our friends and partners all around the state.  While our friends at the Park service have a lot of cleaning up to do our friends at DNR have fared a little better.

We did not suffer any direct damage but had to cancel our annual Oyster Roast for the second year in a row. Our event, along with many of the International Archaeology Day events around the country could not happen because of damage around the coast and the hardship that many of our supporters suffered. Even more disappointing than our own event being cancelled was the postponement of the Arkhaios Film Festival. This festival is one of the premier archaeology related film events in the country. We have been assured that it will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

While the storm caused a lot of damage shifting sands and water also exposed new and old archaeological sites. We have had reports of possible timbers and ship debris that was temporarily exposed immediately after the storm.  Fortunately the storms that have sunk ships for centuries off Carolina's coast have a way of repairing the damage that they do to the coast. So many of the initial reports of exposure have since been covered over with sand once again.


Those most exciting of all of these reports you have probably already heard about. Civil war era cannon Balls were uncovered at Folly Beach.  The activity in this area during the Civil War is well documented and was investigated archaeologically by SCIAA in the 1990s. You can see those reports here.  You can also see more photos of the recovery here.

After the storm divers and metal detectorists went out in force to see what the storm turned up. We have already seen a great number of reports of some amazing finds. It seems that we will continue to hear about and see changes to well-known sites for months to come. We hope to be able to investigate some of the new sites that have been uncovered soon.

The MRD is always happy to go out and look at any potential sites that may have been uncovered or help you identify artifacts that may have washed up. Please call us or email us with any reports, even if the sites or artifacts that you have discovered are not related to underwater archaeology or maritime history, we can help you find the right person to speak with.