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Hickory Hill set to play host to amateur archeologists in summer camps

It's a kids' dream come true - play in the dirt and your parents won't get mad at you. Children ages 11-17 years old can Dig History! at a summer archeology camp at Hickory Hill.

Campers will learn about the field of archeology - how to work with maps, survey and excavate archeological sites. Campers will then put into practice what they've learned in the classroom. Supervised by professional archeologists, the campers will excavate the Jeffersonian Publishing Plant site at Hickory Hill.

Last year's camp excavation went "beautifully," according to Michelle Zupan, the curator at Hickory Hill.

"The students certainly found more than we anticipated as far as bits of the building and artifacts. ... We weren't really happy with what we found on the north end, so that's going to be a big focus this year," Ms. Zupan said, explaining that archeologists still don't have a clear picture of the site area.

The site is where Senator Thomas E. Watson, an important figure in Georgia's history, published his newspaper and magazine, the Jeffersonian. Ms. Zupan said the plant was built in 1910, but burned down during the 1920's. She said there is one photograph of the exterior, a few interior photographs, and a physical description printed in a newspaper in 1910, but not much else is known about the plant.

"So we have used the description along with the photographs, and basically it's just been luck that we've been able to find the south wall and the west wall as quickly as we did," the curator said.

While the west wall is now well defined, Ms. Zupan said the north corner is still a mystery.

"We've got bits and pieces and hints, so we know it's there. The kids last year, they were working on those hints; but as far as a real wall, it isn't defined," she said.

Campers will discover more fun with hands-on activities of Native American techniques, such as flint napping and creating pottery, taught by guest lecturers. Activities will vary according to who is available during camp time and the weather. Space is limited to 15 campers per week.

"That way every student gets individual attention and every kid gets to have the opportunity to do a lot of digging. If you have too many kids, then they don't get to have the complete experience," Ms. Zupan said.

An advanced archeology camp will be available for the 28 campers who attended last year's camps.

"So, we're hoping to continue working, hopefully more quickly this year. We hope to move a lot more dirt during the advanced camp, and get the exterior of the building defined and working a couple of other portions," Ms. Zupan said.

Dig History! is sponsored by the Watson-Brown Foundation. Camps will run 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, June 12-16, July 10-14, or July 24-28. The advanced camp is June 26-30. The cost is $50 per camper per week. Call 706-595-7777 for details and reservations.

Web posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006

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