JEKYLL ISLAND, GA. | Tropical Storm Irma complicated a lot of plans including adding work to Jekyll Island’s project on replacing failed rock revetments on the north end of the island.
When it tore at the dunes on the island’s northern end, Irma exposed a layer of shell middens that contained a spearhead or arrowhead and some pieces of pottery dating back 1,000 years, officials said Monday at the monthly meeting of the island’s governing board.
Bruce Piatek, director of Historic Resources for the governing Jekyll Island Authority, said that Ben Carswell, director of conservation for the island, had found shells two to three feet below the surface of a dune that had been eaten away by Irma’s storm surge.
Among the finds were a projectile point, some pottery and a piece of soapstone, Piatek said.
Those artifacts indicate “a fairly long people of occupation,” he said. Because he is an archaeologist, Piatek was qualified to dig up and preserve any additional artifacts.
Finding archaeological artifacts complicates the authorities application to repair a rock revetment, he said. The authority plans to build a revetment of quarried granite boulders from Driftwood Beach south in front of residential areas.
Gov. Nathan Deal already had allocated $4 million for the project, but promised to find more after Irma created more of a need.
The complication comes from obtaining permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Protecting historic artifacts is among the requirements in qualifying the permits.
Piatek said he met with a state archaeologist who suggested that any damage would most likely occur in paths that would be used in getting equipment onto the beach. Piatek said his investigation turned up one pot shard in one of the identified access routes.
“The revetment itself is the best thing to do to preserve the site,” he said.