5. RFI Topic: Preservation of Jekyll Island’s archaeological resources 

Recommendation:  Include provisions in the Jekyll Island Master Plan
for a comprehensive program for the identification, preservation and management of archaeological resources

The 1996 Master Plan does not include consideration of archaeological resources in the management, preservation, protection, and development of Jekyll Island.   However, these resources are among the vital cultural and natural assets of Jekyll Island, and their full integration into a revised Master Plan is necessary to ensure their preservation for the enjoyment of all Georgians now and for future generations. 

Archaeological resources are the preserved physical remains of past cultures and this fragile evidence is vulnerable to the ground disturbance associated with most development activities.  These resources, properly managed and interpreted, also provide unique opportunities to engage visitors in the rich cultural heritage which spans more than 4,000 years on Jekyll Island. 

At least 44 archaeological sites have been recorded thus far on Jekyll Island and its nearby hammocks.  These represent an impressive array of Native American, British Colonial, Plantation, and Industrial period occupations.  However, as these known sites are the result of the sporadic and limited professional research conducted over the last 50 years, it is certain that they account for only a fraction of the total archaeological resources that exist on Jekyll Island.

As it is public policy of the State of Georgia to preserve significant archaeological properties (O.C.G.A. § 12-3-50.1) and whereas the State Archeologist has statutory responsibilities (O.C.G.A. § 12-3-52; O.C.G.A. § 12-3-53; O.C.G.A. § 12-3-58) for archaeological resources located on lands owned or controlled by the State of Georgia, it is recommended that the Jekyll Island Authority develop, in consultation and cooperation with the State Archeologist, a comprehensive plan for archaeological resources within the Jekyll Island Master Plan.  This plan should identify both policies and procedures for the protection, preservation and management of Jekyll Island’s archaeological resources and also include:

1.  A program for the identification, evaluation, and nomination of archaeological properties on Jekyll Island to the Georgia Register of Historic Places to further the protection of such properties (O.C.G.A. § 12-3-55).  This would involve systematic archaeological survey to record the locations and characteristics of previously undocumented archaeological sites.

2.  A program of information and publicity as to the archaeological resources on Jekyll Island designed to attract tourists and visitors (O.C.G.A. § 12-3-32).  This could consist of development of public archaeology and heritage tourism programs which include interpretive trails, educational signage, and opportunities to participate in archaeological excavations.

- By Dr. Ray Crook, Professor Emeritus, University of West Georgia; former Director of the Antonio J. Waring, Jr. Archaeological Laboratory [rcrook@westga.edu]