What is Archaeology?

Archaeology is the scientific study of the human past through material culture. Material culture includes objects and landscapes used and modified by people. These objects are generally referred to as artifacts. Archaeologists are people who study the human past by examining artifacts and data collected through systematic investigations which generally include excavations.

Archaeologists participate in documentary research, excavation, documentation and preservation of sites and artifacts, artifact analysis, report writing and publication, and interpretation to the public. Many archaeologists may have specialized fields of study such as: paleoethnobotany, zooarchaeology, bioarchaeology, historical archaeology, underwater archaeology, forensic archaeology/anthropology.

Objectives of the SC State Park Service archaeology program include: resource protection and compliance archaeology, archaeological research, and public archaeology.

  • Compliance Archaeology

Identifies and evaluates any archaeological resources prior to proposed undertakings within the parks that will result in ground disturbing activities.

  • Research Archaeology

Ongoing program that gathers data from archaeological sites in the parks. Provides insight and information to the various interpretive programs offered at a park.

  • Public Archaeology

Bridges the gap between research archaeology and interpretation.  It is an effort to educate the public regarding the value of archaeology, and allows the public to get involved in the research archaeology that is conducted on the parks.    Archaeological research and public archaeology programs are offered at Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site and Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site. Additional archaeology research projects and public archaeology programs are offered occasionally at various other parks. Visit the individual links to learn more.

Active Archaeology at Our Parks

Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site

Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site

Help Us Preserve the Past

The SC State Park Service protects and preserves the physical remains of our state’s cultural heritage. Use of metal detectors, digging instruments, and the removal of objects are prohibited on our state park properties.

How You Can Help

  • Stay on designated park paths/trails. 
  • Do not dig anywhere on park property.
  • If you happen to see an artifact, please leave them in place, Do NOT pick it up or take it with you. Report the location to a member of the park staff.
  • Do not touch, sit on, stand on, or otherwise disturb historic structures, architectural ruins, or cultural features.
  • Do not bring a metal detector with you on your park visit. 

By following these guidelines, you are doing your part to help preserve the historic and archaeological sites that exist within our state parks. Community stewardship in this manner is key in making future archaeological studies possible and to ensure that visitors can continue to learn from and enjoy these sites into the future.