What The Ground Says....

Flat Rock Archaeology

Working to document Flat Rock's history from the Cherokee to the Charlestonians using what the ground says.



Our mission is to use archaeology to confirm Flat Rock's storied past.  Until now, most books and stories about Flat Rock are romantic recounts and an authors personal rendition.  We are recording "what the ground says" and using that information to follow Flat Rock's thread through history's quilt.



Andrew Agha, PhD, RPAAndrew has been an historical archaeologist in South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina since 1997 and received his master’s degree (2004) and PhD (2020) from the University of South Carolina. He has directed survey, testing and data recovery excavations in both urban and rural settings. Andrew’s dissertation focused on the influence of the Royal Society of London on the creation and settlement of the Carolina colony in 1670 and what position enslaved Africans held in relation to the scientific experimentation inherent to the origins of South Carolina’s colonial agriculture. His research investigates the African roots of rice agriculture in the Carolina Lowcountry, how enslaved African labor transformed land into productive properties that shaped the evolution of our modern environment, and how European elites factored into the growth of African slavery, land consumption, and industrial agriculture. Andrew is currently a Teaching Associate at Coastal Carolina University. 


Nicole Isenbarger Nicole has been an historical archaeologist in South Carolina and Georgia since 1998 and received her master’s degree in Anthropology from the University of South Carolina in 2006. She has directed survey, testing and data recovery excavations in both urban and rural settings. Nicole is an analyst of colonoware, which is pottery that enslaved Africans crafted by hand on plantations and urban sites. She was the Laboratory Manager for the Mount Pleasant, SC office of Brockington and Associates, Inc. from 2006 to 2011 and has over 15 years of curation experience. Her research focuses on the internal economies of enslaved Africans, ceramic industries, colonial and Antebellum foodways, material culture, and West African spirituality and worldview. She is currently exploring the 1670s as the Archaeologist for Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site in Charleston, South Carolina, and is also a Teaching Associate at Coastal Carolina University.



Settlement archaeology: We have identified and intensively studied small farmsteads and plantations ranging in size from several hundred to 10,000+ acres. We seek to understand how Europeans formed communities in the southeast from 1670 through the 20th century. Our excavations include large formal plantation manor houses; support structures like kitchens, laundries, smokehouses, dairies, blacksmith shops, barns, stables and tackhouses; and, slave cabins/village sites as well as post-Emancipation houses and towns. 

Urban Archaeology: Our experience downtown Charleston since 1999 includes several historic mansions: Aiken-Rhett House, Nathaniel-Russell House, Heyward-Washington House, 14 Legare st., 63 Smith st., City Hall (the original site of the c.1690-1760s city market/beef market), and South Adgers Wharf (the site of a late 18th century market and redan of the old Charleston city defensive wall). We also have experience in Beaufort, and Mitchellville (post-Emanicpation town for freed slaves) on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Archaeology of Agriculture: Andrew has conducted archaeology in historic SC rice fields since 1998. His work excavates rice fields to study and understand the places where enslaved Africans spent most of their time laboring on plantations. This work continues to expand our knowledge of the technological systems—West African and English/European—that coalesced to build over 240,000 acres of rice fields in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Since 2009, we have focused attention on the 1670s experimental agriculture that founded formal plantation development and monocrop agriculture and have discovered evidence for the crops that were first tested in the Lowcountry.

Formal Garden Archaeology: We have excavated and recovered historic gardens in both urban and rural locations. Gardens, in the form of planting beds, organized and single plantings, and shell and brick-lined paths, from the nineteenth century have been identified at 14 Legare st., the Nathaniel-Russell and Aiken-Rhett houses, and 63 Smith st.. Nicole has recently worked on the 1670s-era experimental crop garden at Charles Towne Landing. 

Church, Cemetery and Parsonage sites: Parsonage site for old Dorchester (c.1680s-1780s); Chapel of Ease for St. James/Goose Creek (c.1725); Parsonage at Willtown (c.1750-1770s); St. Philips Church cemetery discovery and restoration in Old Salem, NC (19th-early 20th centuries); Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Coming Street Cemetery (c.1754-20th century); and the African American cemetery at Charles Towne Landing (c.1670-20th century). We have also recorded and worked on the management of several historic cemeteries through compliance archaeology (CRM) throughout South Carolina.

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