An Archaeological Study of the Minim Island Site: Early Woodland Dynamics in Coastal South Carolina


Data recovery excavations and analyses were undertaken at the Minim Island Site, 38GE46, Georgetown County, South Carolina. Excavation at this Early Woodland site consisted of a three by nine meter block with a maximum depth of 2.2 meters below surface. Ten cm arbitrary levels were excavated, and the general level fill was screened through 0.25 inch mesh. Fill from features and six 50 by 50 cm column samples per level was saved for flotation separation. Specialized analyses were undertaken to address: ceramic technology; shell and bone tool technology; dietary faunal composition and seasonality; hardclam seasonality; oyster seasonality, source environment, and preparation methods;

plant utilization for foodstuffs and fuel; pollen preservation; human osteology; and site specific and regional geoarchaeological history.

The earliest occupation of the site was evidenced by a Thom's Creek/Refuge assemblage, associated with a corrected radiocarbon date of 1440 BC. This initial settlement occurred shortly after the first establishment of a brackish water marsh in the site vicinity. A spring to summer occupation was indicated, with subsistence focused upon estuarine fish, especially sturgeon and gar. Oysters were utilized during the Thom's Creek/Refuge span, but represented a relatively minor dietary contributor. The ceramics from this component represent two distinct technological series, and the major types recovered include: Thom's Creek Plain, Thom's Creek Incised, Thom's Creek Scraped, Refuge Scraped, and Refuge Dentate Stamped.

The major shell midden was deposited during an early Deptford occupation, probably spanning 600 to 250 BC. The assemblage was dominated by Deptford Check Stamped pottery. The subsistence data for the Deptford occupation indicate a greater emphasis on oysters, with estuarine fishes and mammals also major contributors. The seasonality of the species captured suggests that Deptford subsistence was seasonally focal. The late winter and early spring apparently was a time of limited site use, as evidenced by the hardshell clam data. Sturgeon and gar fishing was pursued in the spring and summer, with mammal and turtle hunting as secondary activities. The fall was the season of

intensive oyster gathering, and possibly hickory nut harvest. No positive indicators of cold weather occupation were recovered. The Deptford remains represent a seasonally permanent encampment of a few family units.

Later occupations at Minim Island included a Deptford/Deep Creek component, and material from the Mississippian Period and the nineteenth century. The Deep Creek/Deptford component is limited to disturbed contexts, but attests to the addition of extralocal decorative modes to the existing technological

tradition. The Deptford/Deep Creek component has a suggested temporal span of AD 100 through 300. The limited post-Deptford use of the site is apparently related to the continuous rise in sea level through the Early Woodland to the present, which effectively removed productive oyster beds from the immediate

vicinity of the site, and which altered the aggregation and movement patterns of the estuarine fishes.

Cite this Record

An Archaeological Study of the Minim Island Site: Early Woodland Dynamics in Coastal South Carolina. Christopher T. Espenshade, Paul E. Brockington, Jr.. Brockington and Associates, Inc. 1989 ( tDAR id: 391068) ; doi:10.6067/XCV80C4WM2

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -79.687; min lat: 33.096 ; max long: -79.143; max lat: 33.495 ;

Record Identifiers

Brockington and Associates, Inc., report number(s): 0018

Contract #(s): DACW60-87-c-0005


General Note: Curation facility: South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology

File Information

  Name Size Creation Date Date Uploaded Access
minim-island-38ge46-data-recovery.pdf 20.23mb May 10, 2013 11:05:08 AM Public