Archaeologists excavate site along Ga. 372 before widening can begin





The young men and women toiling in jeans, bandannas and cargo pants to the side of Ga. 372 in Cherokee County look more like hikers or a Grateful Dead audience than road-builders. Their metal detectors and dirt sifters hanging from bamboo tripods look more like camping gear than the tools of transportation.

The workers are archaeologists, and under federal law, they are as critical to laying asphalt as the machines that make a roadbed or laborers who spread tar.

Georgia's $1 billion-plus a year of federal road-building money hinges on their ability to preserve historical sites before the asphalt hits the ground.

"When I first started here, I got a lot of questions from colleagues: 'Is this a conflict of interest for me?' " said archaeologist Terri Lotti, the state Department of Transportation's project manager for the site. "The answer is no. We are bound by federal law to do the right thing."



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