THE COLONIST’S CONCRETE: A PRESERVATION PLAN FOR THE SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY TABBY FLOOR FOUND AT THE MILLER ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE
In 2009, a seventeenthcentury floor was discovered at the Miller Archaeological Site at Charles Towne Landing. Unearthed but covered with plastic sheeting since then, the floor is a remnant of Charleston’s first English settlement. Labeled on site as tabby, the material is typically comprised of oyster shells, sand, lime, and water. The lack of whole shell in the floor’s material suggests a role in the broader pattern of augmented earthen flooring deriving from the Caribbean, and in turn, Africa and Europe. Deteriorating at an unknown rate since its discovery, it is the hope of South Carolina State Parks to employ a mitigation plan for the floor that both conserves and interprets it simultaneously.
Through historic, analytical, and precedent research, this thesis provides the information required to chose an appropriate conservation plan for the Miller Site. The goal is to encourage longevity of the floor and public awareness of tabby, mortar, and other forms of earthen construction. Preserving and exhibiting the floor at the Miller Site is another step in the ongoing research of tabby as a material, and the best methods of its conservation. Previous surveys of existing tabby in the Southeast suggest the floor is a rare asset. The best way to ensure the longevity of the floor is to understand the physical characteristics and degradation patterns. If interpreted correctly, the Miller Site will attract both visitors, and encourage scholars to explore tabby’s application in the Southeast.