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His neighbor was JFH Claiborne, the historian of Mississippi.

It is commonly prescribed to professional archaeologists, that they recount the history of a site’s occupation, even if perfunctorily, prior to the immersion into the prehistoric deposits many prefer.

With the exception of Pearlington, which is only a partial reflection of its former self, all the towns are gone.

There is no more Logtown, or Napoleon, or Santa Rosa, or Westonia.

Earlier, Iberville had named it Pea Island, because he lost a sack of peas there in 1699.

The Pearl empties into the Mississippi Sound, protected from the open Gulf by a series of barrier islands with names like Ship and Cat, important to the early Canadian explorers under Iberville and his brother Bienville.

That edge of Hancock County, Mississippi, which borders Louisiana at the mid-point of the Pearl River, is in many ways now nondescript, quiet and forlorn bereft of whatever culture evolved there over the ages.

In truth, very little of what meets the eye is indicative of what came before.

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It was archaeology that brought us to the topic of this book.

And, most fascinating, we discovered a treasure of primary documentation, mostly in the form of family letters.

There is good reason that a reader may ask earnestly why a little populated area in the southwest corner of a sparsely populated state might command much attention.

At that time, the Gulf of Mexico was dozens of miles to the south of its currect location, and those earliest archaeological sites are likely under the waters.

There are numerous sites dating from the Archaic period, and particularly from the mound-building times called Poverty Point.

First, there is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), for the initial impetus for an in-depth study of the beginnings of this little but important corner of Hancock County, Mississippi. It was on this high land that slave traders of the early19 century found staging areas to import Africans into the New World, after Thomas Jefferson had prohibited this horrid commerce in the newly bought territory.

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