Chuck Denney (UT Institute of Agriculture)
Often our past is right under our feet. What’s buried in the ground tells a story. When you dig deep at Ames Plantation, who knows what you might find.
Dr. Milton Moreland (Rhodes College)
“So this is giving students really a two thousand year historical scope.”
Dr. Milton Moreland with Rhodes College calls Ames a treasure box of West Tennessee lore. He leads a team of students conducting archeological digs this summer. The artifacts here have been surrounded by a protective coating of dirt for years, but archeology is the science where some destruction is necessary for discovery. Dr. Moreland says you have to be delicate in handling history.
Dr. Milton Moreland
“We very carefully grid our site. We’ll take a one-by-one meter or two-by-two meter square, essentially a unit, and then just very carefully work that down.”
Ames Plantation covers 18,000 acres, roughly 30 square miles. This area has a rich history, from the first native Americans through the Civil War.
Dr. Jamie Evans (Ames Plantation)
“Man has occupied this land for thousands of years.”
Dr. Jamie Evans says Ames is covered in native American artifacts like arrow and spear heads, unearthed after centuries. Closer to the present day, this research has identified 250 families who lived here during the 19th century, and chronicled 600 land ownership changes. The students found bricks, as well as pottery shards and lots of broken glass. They also came across this ornate button, perhaps from a woman’s dress, and this small silver piece with engraved numbers that may have been part of a metal calendar.
Dr. Jamie Evans
“What this has done really is allowed us to have a fairly complete archival understanding of the history of the land base - who these settlers were, when they arrived here.”
The digging will go on at Ames into the future. There are some 200 potential sites with historical riches here - many still untouched. These students and scientists want to bring the past to the surface, and our history can’t become knowledge until it’s uncovered.
NOTE: Faculty and students from the University of Memphis are also involved in this project.