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Historic Contexts

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SC Archaeology Month


Historic Contexts

Historic contexts play an important role in evaluating the significance of archaeological sites and historic resources. As defined by the National Park Service, “historic contexts are those patterns or trends in history by which a specific occurrence, property, or site is understood and its meaning (and ultimately its significance) within history or prehistory is made” (National Register Bulletin 1990). Historic contexts also aim to define property types, take stock of sites (known and projected), pose research questions, provide evaluation criteria, and discuss key bibliographic material.

This section of the website includes historic contexts that have been developed in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). Some of the historic contexts presented on this page were developed as mitigation components for archaeological sites lost to development. Other contexts were either developed through the SHPO’s federal grants program, the Council of South Carolina Professional Archaeologists (COSCAPA), or independent research. See also Historic Contexts, Survey Reports, and Other Historical Background Studies. All contexts are in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

       Gold Mining in the Carolinas: A Context for Archaeological Resources Management. (10.7 MB)

Sumter National Forest Cultural Resources Overview. Provides information on the nature and distribution of cultural resources, placing these resources in a framework of the cultural history of upstate South Carolina, in addition to examining the U.S. Forest Service's predictive model. (8 MB)

South Carolina Land Phosphates in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries: Toward an Archaeological Context. Provides an archaeological context for the study of South Carolina's phosphate industry, with a special emphasis on phosphate mining camps.

Mills in the Upcountry: A Historic Context and a Summary of a Mill Site on the Peters Creek Heritage Preserve. (4 MB)

Rice Cultivation, Processing, and Marketing in the Eighteenth-Century. Discusses South Carolina's rice production from introduction through the American Revolution.

Context for Eighteenth-Century Overseers. Provides information about how overseers were retained, salaries, and social standing.

A Preliminary Archaeological Context for Greenville County, South Carolina.

       Earliest Americans National Historic Landmark Theme Study.

       Archaic Shell Rings of the Southeast US, National Historic Landmark Historic Context/Theme Study. (5 MB)

       Fig Island Ring Complex: Coastal Adaptation and Question of Ring Function in the Late Archaic. (8.1 MB)

Beneath These Waters, Archeological and Historical Studies of 11,500 Years Along the Savannah River, is an interpretation for a general audience of archeological and historical research conducted in the Richard B. Russell Multiple Resource Area from 1969 through 1985. This research preceded building of the Richard B. Russell Dam and Lake. Archeologists and others investigated prehistoric and historic sites in Elbert and Hart Counties in Georgia, and Abbeville and Anderson Counties in South Carolina.

In Those Days:  African-American Life Near the Savannah River, is an oral history from elderly African Americans in Elbert Co., Georgia, and Abbeville Co., South Carolina. The oral histories were collected by researchers as part of the Richard B. Russell Dam construction in the early 1980's.

National Register Multiple Property Submissions (MPS)

These MPS cover documents contain valuable historic context information on groups of archaeology related properties in South Carolina:

Civil War Defenses of Charleston

Congaree Swamp National Monument

Early Ironworks of Northwestern SC

Flue-cured Tobacco Production

Georgetown Co. Rice Culture

Shell Rings of South Carolina

Pacolet Soapstone Quarries

Yamasee Indian Towns


Introduction || Historic Preservation