Stallings Archaeological Project

The Stallings Culture of the Middle Savannah River Valley, South Carolina and Georgia has drawn the attention of antiquarians and archaeologists since the 1850s. Dating from about 4500 to 3500 years ago, Stallings Culture was among several hunter-gatherer populations in the American Southeast to collect and eat shellfish and accumulate the inedible remains in mounds or middens. Known regionally as the Shell Mound Archaic, these various populations signify trends toward increased settlement permanence, economic intensification, and technological innovation. Stallings Culture is best known for its fiber-tempered pottery, among the oldest pottery in North America.

Since 1991 the Stallings Archaeological Project has undertaken limited excavations at five Stallings Culture sites in the middle Savannah River area. Each a victim of looting, these sites represent a suite of types, occupational sequences, and topographic settings. The goal of the project is to document and explain the circumstances that led to the genesis of this regionally distinct, geographically circumscribed culture, and, perhaps more importantly, the circumstances surrounding the demise of Stallings Culture some 3500 years ago.

Clip on links below to access summary reports and figures from our work at each of the sites.


Stallings Island (9CB1) in Columbia County, Georgia is the namesake of Stallings Culture. A 16-acre island in the Savannah River near Augusta, Stallings Island rose to prominence with the nineteenth-century investigations of C. C. Jones and the 1929 Peabody Museum excavations. Despite repeated investigations, Stallings Island remains poorly understood. Was it a massive settlement occupied year-round, or the seasonal camp of smaller groups over a longer occupational history?  Did it serve special functions in the settlement system, or was it just another typical, albeit larger and/or longer habitation?  How are the prepottery components of the site different from those of Stallings times?

Funding from the National Geographic Society in 1999 enabled the first investigation of Stallings Island since 1970.  After making sense of smaller sites in the vicinity (see below), we were prepared to return to Stallings Island to establish the internal chronology for the site and begin addressing some of the lingering questions.  Click here for our summary report to National Geographic.

Click here for 2006 American Antiquity article on Stallings Island

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