"De Soto's Footsteps: New Archaeological Evidence from Georgia" at Fernbank Museum of Natural History
In a photo at the beginning of this modest-sized but fascinating exhibit, Ellen Vaughn, then a high school senior, holds a tiny glass bead in the palm of her hand. Her 2006 unearthing of the red, white and blue orb, in South Georgia's Telfair County, was the first clear evidence that Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto may have taken a different route through the region starting in 1540 than history has recorded.
Or so Fernbank's lead archaeologist, Dennis Blanton, concluded, as the earth yielded more trade beads -- plus pottery, pipes and stone tools -- during that summer's dig and subsequent ones.
"Each time we come, new questions are raised, and we feel an obligation to come back and try and answer those," Blanton says in a five-minute video that's one of the exhibit highlights.
Beyond tracking the conquistador and his small army -- which was searching for food, information and riches -- the exhibit provides a intriguing glimpse at the archaeological process. There's information here appropriate for students age 6 through high school.
Getting the chance to study seven of the glass beads and other discoveries in a viewfinder doubtlessly will make some of the younger visitors take trowels and brushes to their back yards as soon as they get home.
Through March 1. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday. $15 adults, $14 students/seniors, $13 ages 3-12, free members and ages 2 and under. 767 Clifton Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-929-6300, www.fernbankmuseum.org.
I'm glad to see the artifacts going on exhibition. I don't know if I'll get up to ATL anytime soon, so if anyone does let me know how it is. The Museum's website shows a photo of beads, mostly faceted chevrons, but the article mentions metal objects.