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Georgia Southern offers archaeological field school at Confederate POW camp

Ryan McNutt, Ph.D., and some students work with a metal detector at Camp Lawton.

Georgia Southern University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology will continue its spring and summer archaeological field schools held at Camp Lawton, a former Confederate prisoner of war (POW) camp, located in Magnolia Springs State Park in Jenkins County, Georgia. The spring session of the field school will meet every Friday until May 3, and the summer session will meet Monday through Friday from May 20 through June 20.

“Camp Lawton has become a time capsule, locking into the soil the stories and experiences of those who were guarded, and those who guarded them, in the lonely Georgia pines as war raged ever closer,” said Ryan McNutt, Ph.D., assistant professor of anthropology at Georgia Southern and director of the Camp Lawton archaeological project.

The department was invited to investigate the archaeology of Camp Lawton in 2009 and has since made several discoveries including remnants of four stockade walls, a potential Confederate camp site and several POW shelters. Among some of the items recovered are picture frames, eating utensils and military items from guards and POWs.

Built in the summer of 1864, Camp Lawton reached a peak of more than 10,000 POWs before being closed down in December of the same year. The site is now managed by Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

The project welcomes visits by members of the public, interested students and local school groups. Throughout the coming spring and summer, public days will be announced on Saturdays for those who are busy during the week. The Magnolia Springs State Park visitor’s center can direct visitors to the excavations.

For more information, please visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu/Camp-Lawton.

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving nearly 26,500 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu.

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