Monday, November 13, 2006

Archaeologists discover rare antebellum Southern tannery
There's little glamour to the crumbling ruins of a 200-year-old tannery - where raw hides from deer, cattle and other animals were turned into leather for everything from shoes to holsters and saddles.

But archaeologists say that learning how it operated from its establishment in 1811 through the Civil War will give them insight into commerce and labor of a long-gone era.

"Up to the time of the Civil War, it is estimated that there were over 8,000 tanneries in existence in the United States, and yet we know little about them," said Daphne Owens Battle, an archaeologist with Cypress Cultural Consultants, the Beaufort, S.C., firm that is overseeing the excavation. "Only a handful of these sites have survived, and this is the only one we know of from this period in the South."