Archaeological group looks for treasures at Winn House

DACULA - Just outside the old Elisha Winn House, a few flat rocks barely jutted out of the grass.

They might have been a patio. Or a tiled floor. Or part of a walkway.

They might be something else entirely.

How else to tell but to start digging?

Careful not to move the rocks, members of the Gwinnett Archaeological Research Society marked off the land in squares Saturday, dug up the sod and sifted buckets full of dirt through screens, pulling out glass, nails, buttons, ceramic shards and even a big knife.

"I'm not entirely sure what we have here so far," Archaeological Adviser Jim D'Angelo said. "The flat rocks showing in the grass hint at an outline and there's an oral tradition of a kitchen. ... We analyze what we found and where. As we're digging, we try to make sense of it."

Saturday's finds among the rocks included lots of ceramics, old pottery and even some animal bones. Another area of the property - perhaps a fire pit - yielded nails, buttons, glass pieces and a zipper.

Eleven-year-old twins Alison and Sarah Woodard said they enjoyed sifting through the dirt looking for treasures. Even when a member of the archaeology group corrected them - they were looking for artifacts, not treasures - the girls weren't so sure there was a difference. After all, pulling objects out of the dirt is like finding a treasure.

Sarah took what looked like a spearhead out of a bag of glass bits and other finds.

"It's fun, getting all messy and dirty," she said. "We're shaking and finding new things."

Alison was impressed with how many objects were underground. She said she hoped to get other people to dig with her next time.

"I thought we'd only find a little bit of stuff, but we found a lot," she said.

Gwinnett Historical Society President Steve Starling said the objects found in the excavation would become part of a planned museum at the house. The home, likely built in 1811, retained its original fireplace mantles and rooms through additions and has been largely restored by the society.

Dacula resident Lance Ware came to the dig Saturday afternoon because his son, 7-year-old Cason, likes dinosaurs. He thought it would be neat for Cason and 8-year-old Whitley to see what a real archaeological dig looked like.

Ware said he enjoyed watching the archaeologists work and showing his children around the old home. Whitley, also, said she thought it was pretty neat but didn't know if she'd start digging in her own yard.

"There could be things buried under the grass," she said. "I haven't really checked."

The dig continues at the home until 3 p.m. today.