Tuesday, February 9th, 2010
Back from a weekend hanging with archaeologists and looking at things archaeological down on the Georgia coast. On Sunday morning, we took a ferry over to Sapelo Island, one of Georgia’s barrier islands that has (they tell me), been intensely occupied over the centuries, from native peoples who built shell ring mounds (one 100 meters in diameter) way way back in BC sometime to the Spanish to the French to sugar cane growers who forged their operations on the backs of slave labor to the descendents of those slaves (and, along the way, a Detroit auto engineer who bought up a big chunk of the island, North Carolina tobacco emperor R.J. Reynolds who built a big old house there, and bunches of researchers, some who live on the island full-time.)
On the ferry over (a zippy modern catamaran named after Katie Underwood, the island’s last resident midwife), three kids from what seemed like widely variant socialeconomic backgrounds (that is, some seemed to be dirt-poor and some didn’t) nevertheless had iPhones or iPod Touches, and they and their friends exhibited the now-familiar behavior “look at this cool app! look at this picture I just took of you! listen to this song!” Modern mobile kids, doing the new social, poking, pinching, and sliding on tiny glass surfaces.
Once on the island, at least for us, it was a decidedly low-tech wander, packed into a beat-up minivan, bouncing along dirt roads with deep puddles from Friday’s rain. We did collect lots of GPS points and digital photos, and we learned about the island’s history the old-fashioned way, listening to the stories of those who had spent decades investigating the centuries of human occupation on the island.