Originally created 01/30/98

Diggers to hunt pottery



NORT AUGUSTA -- An area man hopes to unearth an important part of the history of North Augusta by digging into the city's riverfront near the site of Hamburg, a once flourishing town on the South Carolina side of the Savannah River.

Mark Newell, director of the fledgling Georgia Archaeological Institute, is opening a dig Saturday in the vicinity of the Old Dispensary to investigate the folk pottery once produced in the area. At one time, before what was left of the Hamburg community was destroyed by the flood of 1929, a thriving pottery industry flourished on the riverfront.

Mr. Newell expects the excavation to continue through February but said it's too soon to know just how long the project will last.

"We want to investigate what may prove to be the remains of three potteries, those of W.F. Hahn, Thomas L. Hahn and Hankinson," Mr. Newell said Thursday. "All three made similar stoneware jugs, churns and other wares at North Augusta during the late 19th and early 20th centuries." The old Baynham Pottery, a portion of which still stands, will also be included in the project, Mr. Newell said.

The Augusta-based Georgia Archaeological Institute, directed by Mr. Newell, is sponsoring the excavation and offering an introductory course on historic stoneware pottery with openings for 10 to 15 participants. Mr. Newell said participation in the course and the dig is open to the public for a small fee.

A certificate of participation is to be issued by the institute, he said.

Formerly employed by the University of South Carolina Archaeological Institute, Mr. Newell said the Georgia Archaeological Institute was in its formative stage -- "I'm its director and its janitor" -- and suggested that anyone wishing to join the excavation or enroll in the course contact him at his North Augusta office at (803) 279-8216. He will be assisted by research associates Fred Holcombe and Joe Holcombe of Clinton who have assembled a large collection of South Carolina pottery, including previously unidentified examples of North Augusta stoneware.