June 14, 2019

At Palmetto Bluff, we have uncovered more than 13,000 years of history. It is because we have a full-time archaeologist, Dr. Mary Socci, on our team that we have been able to uncover these details of our past. Dr. Socci is dedicated to learning and preserving the rich history that surrounds the Lowcountry. We recently sat down with her during the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy’s new series “Lunch with …” to learn a little more about her and what she does at Palmetto Bluff.

What made you want to become an archaeologist?

When I was in college, I took a class on the Aztecs and Mayans and became fascinated by the work that was being done to uncover civilizations.

What brought you to Palmetto Bluff and what are some of your responsibilities?

I met the Director of the Conservancy and she was looking for an archaeologist to join the team and we got to talking and here I am. I educate residents and guests about the history our land holds, but I also make sure that Palmetto Bluff complies with the deferral and state regulations regarding historical and archaeological sites.

How did you go about discovering the past of Palmetto Bluff?

All 20,000 acres were surveyed by digging a test pit every 100 feet or so.

Take me through an average day for you on the Bluff.

Depending on the day, I could be guiding a cemetery tour through an old plantation, analyzing fragments of bone or pottery, writing descriptions of excavations we are doing here, or sifting through sand on a site in hopes of finding an interesting artifact.

How many excavations have been done on property?

Over 30. Every site must have potential to yield new information about South Carolina’s past.

What is the oldest artifact you have found on property?

A Paleo-Indian projectile point dating back to the Ice Age.

You often say that archaeologists love other people’s trash. What’s the best piece of garbage you have found on property?

I don’t really have a favorite artifact, but one I especially like is a small fragment of a ceramic pitcher made in 1800 that had a design commemorating George Washington. The vessel was produced in England and I wonder whether the maker (or the purchaser) appreciated the irony of that.

As Dr. Socci often says, if you don’t want archaeologists digging up your garbage and creating stories about you, be careful what you bury.

The dates for the rest of the “Lunch with” series are:

Lunch with a biologist: June 13 &July 18

Lunch with a wildlife manager: June 20 & August 1

Discover Palmetto Bluff