The Bennett History Museum has a large collection of artifacts representing the American Indian cultures that preceded the European arrival in the Southeastern U.S. Projectile points, atalatyl weights, chunky stones and pottery shards are among the cultural remains of ancient cultures. In the Longhouse are artifacts and text panels telling the story “Of Sky and Earth,” a narrative of the earliest encounters between Europeans and the peoples of the Southeast with accompanying artifacts. This is funded by Georgia Power.
Carefully arranged according to the periods that gave rise to their forms, a large display of artifacts can be found in the glass hallway of the Bennett Museum. Beautiful stone items made by contemporary earth-skills craftsmen can be seen in the dioramas in the Hall of Ancients. These were created so that appropriate wooden handles could be attached using reproductions. In an “Archaeologist’s Corner” an assortment of shards and points suggest the materials unearthed by archaeologists, showing what tools they used to unearth them and the creativity, hard work and scientific knowledge required of those professionals who unlock the past.
The physical appearance of artifacts changes abruptly with the European arrival in the late 15th century. The deerskin trade that dominated the lives of European traders and native peoples alike is characterized by trade goods such as beads, copper pots, and iron or steel tools such as tomahawks (or “hawk-bills”), guns, and ultimately plows, locks, nails, hoes, froes and shovels. Until the American Revolution, the deerskin trade was Georgia’s main economic enterprise. The Sellars Tool Collection suggests the revolution wrought by iron that occurred when Amerindians were introduced to iron implements, and their New Stone Age culture abruptly ended.
Petroglyph in The Hall of the Ancients
The Age of the Deerskin Trade brought not only changes in the physical life of Native American peoples, it also transformed European life as well, introducing new materials, attitudes and political ideas, as philosophers, writers and manufacturers incorporated the “New World ” and its many cultures into their frame of reference.