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Indian Shell Ring

South Carolina  |  SC Picture Project  |     |  Indian Shell Ring

Indian Shell Ring

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This is a picture of a one of the oldest features created by prehistoric Indians. This shell ring in Awendaw is over 4000 years old, and is one of the last remaining rings among a long chain that spanned from South Carolina to Florida.

The shell rings have been worn down over time, but in the past they reached up to 10 feet high and were 225 feet across!

According to Awendaw native Tim Penninger’s book, Awendaw, Indians placed clams, oysters, and even periwinkles into pits; they then covered the crustaceans with moss and palmetto fronds and steamed them open. These shellfish were a major food source for Indians in this area due to their abundance.

It is commonly thought that the local Sewee Indians built this ring, but the Indians who actually built it predate the Sewees by thousands of years. Archeologists believe that these rings were used as a gathering place for feasts and spiritual rituals. They are made primarily of oyster shells, and in the past the area surrounding this ring was treeless. Throughout time, the oysters decomposed, leaching calcium into the soil, and trees began to grow.

You can visit the Francis Marion National Forest and walk the Sewee shell ring interpretive trail to learn more.

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2 Comments about Indian Shell Ring

Jim HillNo Gravatar says:
May 18th, 2013 at 11:46 am

Looking forward to reading more about the dating of the Indian shell ring. I already have a copy of the Sewee Shell Mound Interpretive Trail leaflet and vicinity map. If you have the name and author of any such publication I would be grateful to learn of it. Best wishes, Jim Hill, Scotland.

Jim HillNo Gravatar says:
May 18th, 2013 at 11:35 am

I enjoyed my recent visit to the shell ring and would like to get copies of archaeological reports on any excavations, dating evidence and artefacts discovered.
Kind regards, Jim Hill, Field Archaeologist, Scotland.


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