Sometimes Hilton Head Islanders pick up a shard of metal or pottery on their lawn, look at it quizzically and wonder, "What the heck is this?"
The Hilton Head chapter of the Archaeological Society of South Carolina is happy to answer that question.
The group is hosting its third annual "What the Heck is THIS" event from 1 to 4 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Coastal Discovery Museum.
Two professional archeologists will be on hand to analyze any potential artifacts.
Chapter president George Stubbs unearths the origins of the event.
Question. How did the event come about?
Answer. It really was just an off-shoot of "Antiques Roadshow," where people bring in their antiques for experts to value. We just thought we'd try something similar and see how it goes. The South Carolina state archeologist (Jon Leader) has volunteered his services, along with another professional (Eric Poplin of Brockington and Associates). We have about 50 people who come out.
So far, we haven't been able to baffle any of the professionals.
Q. What's the more interesting things you've gotten?
A. One of the more interesting to me was a crypto device that was used during the Civil War -- two circular plates, each brass, one on top of the other, one with numbers and one with letters. It was a device used to decode messages.
We'll have prehistoric items, sometimes things from 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. A lot of ceramic shards, pottery items. South Carolina is unique. Some of the earliest pottery items were made here.
Q. Are there a lot of things to be found on Hilton Head?
A. Since the 1990s, all the development work on the island is preceded with a archeological survey. People continue to find artifacts on the beaches. If you're in Port Royal, you head out to the garden, and you're bound to turn up Civil War artifacts. We're always particularly interested in Civil War items.
Q. Ever have one of those moments, like they do in "Antiques Roadshow," when someone comes in with something and it turns out to be worth a fortune?
A. Nothing too much. The emphasis is finding things, doing an analysis of the item and using it to help develop a story about a culture or a time period. Most of the fun is trying to find out how it got there and where it's from.