Cluskey Archaeology Project Timeline

Shinhoster Leadership Group Visits the GSU Archaeology Lab, May 30, 2013

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Members of the Shinhoster Youth Leadership Group visit the Georgia Southern Archaeology Lab to view artifacts excavated from the Cluskey Embankment Stores and learn about the cleaning, cataloging and analysis work that goes on in the lab after field work is completed.

Onsite Excavations Completed, April 19, 2013

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Left: Blake Ayala, GSU Graduate Assistant, excavates a large mass of fused iron cooking pots and glass wine bottles from the fourth vault. Right: A GSU archaeology graduate student completes mapping of the final unit, completing the onsite excavations.

GSU Field Day, March 8, 2013


Students with GSU's archaeology field school study different features in the units indicated by changes in soil color, as well as the presence of artifacts. Features have included remnants of wood posts, fire pits, and trash pits.

Vault 3 Scout Work Day, March 2, 2013

A special work day for boy and girl scouts interested in learning about archaeology and working towards their archaeology merit badges was held on March 2nd. Local scouts participated in two 2-hour sessions during which they rotated between three work stations: artifact identification and analysis; unit excavation; and screening for artifacts. 34 girl and boy scouts participated, ranging from age 7 to 17 years olds.


Girl and boy scouts are introduced to various types of artifacts by Dr. Sue Moore of GSU.


Above: Boy scouts assist GSU archaeology team with excavations.
Below: Daisy scouts get their turn.


Boy scouts work through the excavated dirt, looking for possible artifacts.

Vault 4 Public Work Day, February 16, 2013

During our third and final general Public Work Day, the GSU team, assisted by the public, excavated two units in the smallest of the four vaults, and opened up a double unit (2 meters x 2 meters) in the third vault. During the three Public Work Days, over 45 students, ranging from elementary school to college, assisted in the excavations, learning about the vault of archaeology in the process.


The public observes and assists in the excavation of two units in the fourth, or smallest, of the vaults.


Members of the Shinhoster Leadership Institute assist GSU archaeologist Blake Ayala as he screens for artifacts.


A member of the Shinhoster Leadership Institute carefully removes artifacts from the underside of concrete paving that was removed to open the excavation unit in the third vault.

SCMPD Forensics Unit Explores "Fifth" Vault, February 15, 2013

Adjacent to the Cluskey Embankment Stores is a fifth opening, which based on available documentation appears to be a later opening added into the retaining wall. It is unknown when it was added or when it was closed up. There has been a lot of interest from the public regarding what might be behind the bricked-up opening. Members of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department's (SCMPD) forensic unit provided assistance by using a small, lighted camera to snake through a small opening in the brickwork to determine what was behind it. Camera-work and probing determined that the opening had been completely filled in with dirt, probably for structural reasons. This work has been documented and there are no further plans to investigate this feature.


SCMPD Officer examines interior of "fifth" vault with micro camera.

SSU Museum Studies Class, February 7, 2013

Professor Felicia Bell's Savannah State University Museum Studies Class attended an orientation of the Municipal Archives in January in preparation for a class research project related to the Cluskey Embankment Stores. In addition, the SSU class met with Dr. Sue Moore and Blake Ayala of GSU for a special class where they got to assist with the archaeological excavation in Vault 4 (the smallest of the vaults).


Graduate Assistant Blake Ayala provides an update on the project to SSU Museum Studies students before they start class.

Vault 2 Public Work Day, January 26, 2013

During our second Public Work Day, the GSU team, assisted by the public, continued excavation on the second unit of Vault 1, including taking soil samples, and completed excavations of the two units in Vault 2.


Introducing archaeology to the next generation.


Excavating Vault 2, Unit 2, where there was a mass of pharmacy bottles incased in a concrete like mixture.


"Lawrence & Weichselbaum, Druggists, Savannah, Ga.," several of these bottles were found in Vault 2, Unit 2.


Taking soil samples from Vault 1, Unit 2.

Presentation to Chatham County Historic Preservation Commission, January 16, 2013

City of Savannah Library & Archives Director Luciana Spracher and Georgia Southern Graduate Assistant Blake Ayala provided the CCHPC an update on the project.

View Presentation (PDF)

Vault 1 Public Work Day, December 15, 2012

During our first Public Work Day, the second unit if Vault 1, the largest of the four vaults was opened by GSU archeologists. Under the top layer of pavement, a layer of brick was discovered. Students from the Shinhoster Youth Leadership Group, the Savannah Early College Historic Preservation Program, and Armstrong Atlantic State University's Public History Program assisted the archeologists as the screened dirt removed from the unit for artifacts. Glass, ceramic, metal, and bone materials were found. These artifacts will be cleaned, labeled and analyzed at the GSU lab. Excavation by GSU staff will continue in Vault 1 during January 2013.


Blake Ayala, GSU Graduate Assistant, opens second unit in Vault 1. Dawn Chapman, a specialist in brick and mortar, looks on as a layer of brick found under the pavement is removed.


Blake Ayala, GSU Graduate Assistant, talks about laying a unit out, while Savannah Early College students look on.


Members of the Savannah Early College Historic Preservation Program and the Shinhoster Youth Leadership Group screen excavated dirt for artifacts.


Matt Newberry, GSU, shows artifacts discovered in Unit 1 to students of the Savannah Early College high school program.


Unit 2 is mapped and soil samples are charted.

Vault 1, Unit 1 Opened, November 30, 2012

GSU staff and students opened the first unit in Vault 1, the largest of the vaults, and began excavation.


GSU Students screen excavated dirt for artifacts.

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), November 13, 2012

GSU and City of Savannah staff used Ground Penetrating Radar to identify areas in the vaults to avoid or concentrate on during excavations. The GPR showed areas of disturbance and large features, as well as areas with little disturbance. Based on the GPR data, GSU laid out 7 units to open up (two 1 meter units in three of the vaults, and one 2 meter unit in the fourth vault).

Watch December's City Span for interviews with Matt Luke and Blake Ayala as they discuss the LiDAR and GPR work onsite.


Blake Ayala, GSU Graduate Assistant, and City of Savannah Staff review Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) data.

LiDAR Scanning, November 4, 2012

Matt Luke, a specialist in LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), scanned the interior and exterior of the vaults to create a three-dimensional model. This model can be used by the archeologists to identify features in structure and it provides documentation for the City to use in future projects involving the vaults.


Matt Luke, GSU LiDAR Specialist, setting up LiDAR equipment to scan exterior of vaults.

Shinhoster Youth Leadership Group Presentation to City Council, February 9, 2012

In the summer of 2011, the Shinhoster Youth Leadership Group visited the Cluskey Embankment Stores during a walking tour of Savannah. Five young men of the group became interested in the history and use of the vaults and approached the City Manager about them. The City Manager asked Vaughnette Goode-Walker, a local historian, to work with the boys on a research project. At the conclusion of their project, the young men presented to City Council their recommendations, including removal of parking from the vaults and a archaeological investigation to supplement the historical research already completed on the vaults' history.

View the Shinhoster Youth Leadership Group's Presentation to Council (PDF)

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Shinhoster Youth Leadership Group members visit Cluskey Embankment Stores, fall 2011.