South Georgia State College

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Archaeologists honor SGSC’s Frankie Snow with prestigious award

Frankie Snow, learning services coordinator in the Division of Natural Sciences, Physical Education, and Mathematics at South Georgia State College (SGSC), has been selected as the 2014 recipient of the Crabtree Award from the Society of American Archaeology (SAA).  Snow received the award at the SAA’s Annual Business Meeting and Awards Ceremony in Austin, Texas.

“I was rather shocked to learn that I would receive this award,” Snow said modestly while sitting in his office on SGSC’s Douglas Campus.  “I had no idea I had been nominated.  As this is a national competition, I really couldn’t understand why I was selected.  I am extremely grateful to Dr. Keith Stephenson and the others who made this possible.”

According to the SAA’s website, the Crabtree Award was established in 1985 to honor the work of the late Don E. Crabtree who was famous for “flintknapping,” which is the process of making stone tools.  The award recognizes “significant contributions to archaeology in the Americas made by an individual who has had little if any formal training in archeology and little if any wage or salary as an archeologist.”

Snow said his interest in archeology began as a teenager in the 1960’s when he began to survey archeological sites in the southern Georgia region. 

“In terms of archeology, there wasn’t much written about this area,” he said.

Under the guidance of Chris Trowell, a retired history, anthropology, and geography teacher at the former South Georgia College, Snow’s passion for archeology grew, and he has devoted most of his time to the study of artwork of the Swift Creek period (AD 200 – AD 700). 

According to Snow, the Swift Creek people carved designs into wooden paddles, which were then “stamped” onto clay pots as the pottery was being formed.  By locating fragments of the pots, Snow has been able to reconstruct the artwork in a “jigsaw puzzle” manner.  He has re-created over 400 of the designs by hand, which include masks, flowers, birds, serpents, and insects.  Snow’s re-creations are housed in a special artifact room on the Douglas Campus.

“When you’re able to get enough data, you can re-create the designs,” he said.

Snow’s work on the Swift Creek designs garnered a return visit to campus in March from Dr. Wayne Clough, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and former president of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“Dr. Clough is a childhood friend of mine and came to campus to see the designs,” said Snow.  “He and I had a great visit, and he enjoyed looking through the Swift Creek material.”

In addition to his Swift Creek work, Snow has worked with Dr. Dennis Blanton, assistant professor of anthropology at James Madison University and alumnus of the former South Georgia College, at a site dating back to 1540 with possible ties to the Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto.  De Soto explored Florida and the southeastern United States.

“This site has national significance in terms of where De Soto might have gone,” Snow said.  “We believe the artifacts we have found at this site are from De Soto and his group.”

Along with his actual archeological work, Snow has published 30 articles, written and presented 40 papers, and provided guidance to other archeologists on various projects.  He has also received many awards and recognitions from the Douglas Kiwanis Club, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy of Georgia, and the Society of Georgia Archeology.

Even with all of the recognition Snow has received, he maintains a modest lifestyle devoted to discovering treasures from the past.

“I don’t campaign for awards.  Archaeology is just something that I do,” he said.

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FIRST PHOTO: Frankie Snow, learning services coordinator at South Georgia State College, is shown with the 2014 Crabtree Award he recently received from the Society of American Archaeology.  On the table are hand-drawn re-creations of designs created by the Swift Creek people who “stamped” the designs on their pottery approximately 1,400 years ago.  The designs are housed in a special artifact room on South Georgia State College’s Douglas Campus.

SECOND PHOTO: Frankie Snow (right) speaks with Dr. Wayne Clough, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, about Snow’s Swift Creek design reconstructions.  (Photo courtesy of John Gibbons, Smithsonian Institution)

THIRD PHOTO: (L-R): Chris Trowell, retired history, anthropology, and geography teacher at the former South Georgia College; Dr. Dennis Blanton, assistant professor of anthropology at James Madison University; and Frankie Snow outside Thrash Hall on South Georgia State College’s Douglas Campus.  Trowell helped increase Snow’s passion for archaeology.  Blanton and Snow collaborated on an archaeological site related to the Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto.