LaGrange, Georgia is steeped in native history, as evidenced by archaeological finds dating back 11,000 years. It’s also home to the Biblical History Center, one of only eight museums in the world that displays artifacts from Israel!
Many artifacts have been found at the site of the old Troup Factory, some dating back 9,500 years. In the mid 1800s, this property was home to one of LaGrange’s textile mill communities. The mill was later dissembled and moved to another location, leaving much evidence of its mill town history. As the current landowning family would later discover, it also holds many artifacts from its more ancient inhabitants.
The best place to cross Flat Shoals Creek is on this property, making it a natural area for early inhabitants to settle. The current owners of the property have discovered some artifacts themselves and have allowed several archaeological digs which added to this impressive collection.
Included in this collection are Projectile Points, hide scrapers, a quartz crystal, soapstone bowl fragments, and pottery. Many of the stone tools were made of quartz, which is plentiful in the area. Some were made from Hollis Quartzite from Pine Mountain Ridge, about seven miles from the site where the artifacts were found.
One fascinating find were two 9,500 year old items that were found together: an intact Bolen Ace Projectile Point and a quartz crystal, likely used as a talisman. One can only wonder how and why they were left to lay side by side for nearly 10,000 years!
Interestingly, if it weren’t for the Troup Factory, we would not have these artifacts at all. Due to erosion from deforestation and agriculture, few areas in western Georgia hold such perfect archaeological finds. However, when the mill workers dug a trench from Flat Shoals Creek, the displaced earth covered certain areas and prevented further erosion, preserving the history beneath. Digs are still happening on this property, so more significant items of historic value are sure to be uncovered!
Legacy Museum on Main Street in LaGrange is home to a large and intact soapstone bowl, believed to be 11,000 years old. It predates the Creek Indians, who once inhabited West Georgia. Prehistoric natives used soapstone to manufacture bowls, pipes, gorgets, net weights, and other utilitarian and ceremonial objects across the southeastern region of North America. The bowl was created and used during the Woodland period, which ranged from 1,000 to 8,000 B.C.
This soapstone bowl was discovered in 1977 in Harris County on the property of Howard H. “Bo” Callaway and is kindly on loan from Mr. Callaway.
Come see this bowl at the Legacy Museum, where you can appreciate the time and effort it must have taken to create it!
LaGrange is home to an amazing collection of biblical period artifacts, displayed with special permission from the Israel Antiquities Authority. The Undersea Ship Disaster Exhibit at the Biblical History Center is one of several amazing displays. It features eight amphorae and storage jars, found in the sea amid evidence of shipwreck. Because each jar was discovered during archeological excavations, the exact location of each jar’s place of discovery is known. Near the exhibit you can view their original locations on a map of ancient Palestine.
Within the exhibit are jars representing various time periods, the oldest being a Persian jar from the 300s B.C., when Persians controlled Israel. There are jars from the Hellenistic Period (after Alexander the Great conquered Judea), jars from the later Roman Period and end of Byzantine Empire (between 1st century A.D. and 500-600 A.D., and jars from the Arabic Period (after the Ottomans took over).
These large jars were used to ship wine or other liquids and seeing them brings your imagination to life. It’s amazing to realize these artifacts survived centuries underwater to be found, excavated, and eventually travel over 6,000 miles to their current location in LaGrange!