Historical Information about SIMS
The oldest civilization ever recorded in Columbia County was the Stallings Island culture, hunter-gatherers who built a series of shell mounds on Stallings Island in the Savannah River near our school site. A series of archeological studies in the 20th Century, including those by researchers from Harvard University’s Peabody Museum (1931), by the Works Progress Administration (1940) and by the University of Florida (1999) have attached astounding historical importance to Stallings Island. It is the site of the oldest pottery in North America, dated more than 4,000 years ago. A 1961 story in The Augusta Chronicle, as the site was being considered for status as a National Historic Landmark, called the inventive native American occupants of the island “CSRA Edisons.” The Stallings Island culture created advanced pottery work, which included the addition of fiber to strengthen their clay pots; they built large shell-midden mounds and elaborate burial chambers; and even attempted what appears to have been an early version of brain surgery.
The island, subjected to extensive looting in the past century by artifact-hunters, is now designated as a National Historic Landmark and is owned by the Archaeological Conservancy. In addition to the island itself, the name is shared by Stallings Island Road and by the Stallings Place development.
For a comprehensive historical reference to Stallings Island and its prehistoric culture, see “People of the Shoals: Stallings Culture of the Savannah River Valley,” published in 2006 by Kenneth E. Sassaman, a professor of anthropology at the University of Florida.
Researched and Contributed by Barry Paschal, Columbia County News Times Editor