St. Catherines Island, GA main content.

St. Catherines Island, Georgia, 1981-present

Located just off the coast of Georgia, St. Catherines* island has a storied history as home to Archaic-period American Indians, the Guale Indian tribe, Spanish priests, enslaved African-Americans, a signer of the US Declaration of Independence, Edward James Noble (the founder of Lifesavers Candy), various animals from the Bronx zoo, and several generations of archaeology students who have come to train under David Hurst Thomas.

St. Catherines Island, Georgia
Island map
St. Catherines Island, Georgia
Transect map

Dr. Thomas has conducted research on the island over the past three decades and has developed a comprehensive archaeological, historical, and geographical history of St. Catherines.

Highlights of his research on the island include the discovery, through remote-sensing, of the long-lost Santa Catalina de Guale mission, which was established in 1587 but was lost to the history books until its rediscovery by Dr. Thomas in 1981. Currently, he and a number of graduate students are researching the island's ancient past -- two large, constructed shell rings that were constructed on opposite sides of the island some 5000 years ago.

St. Catherines Island, Georgia
Surveying the island
St. Catherines Island, Georgia
Excavations at the Spanish mission
St. Catherines Island, Georgia
Shell ring

Discovered! The Long Lost Franciscan Mission, Santa Catalina de Guale [YouTube video produced by the Hispanic Research Center at Arizona State University, 2015]
St. Catherines: An Island in Time [GoogleBooks]

Related Article in Wired Magazine, May 2011
The Well-Armed Archaeologist: archaeological gear used on excavations.

Related Articles in the St. Catherines Island Newsletter

Related Articles in the Anthropological Papers of the AMNH
The anthropology of St. Catherines Island. 1, Natural and cultural history. Anthropological papers of the AMNH, v. 55, pt. 2, 1978.

The anthropology of St. Catherines Island. 2, The Refuge-Deptford mortuary complex. Anthropological papers of the AMNH, v. 56, pt. 1, 1978.

The anthropology of St. Catherines Island. 3, Prehistoric human biological adaptation. Anthropological papers of the AMNH, v. 57, pt. 3, 1982.

The anthropology of St. Catherines Island. 4, The St. Catherines period mortuary complex. Anthropological papers of the AMNH, v. 57, pt. 4, 1982.

The archaeology [i.e. anthropology] of St. Catherines Island. 5, The South End Mound complex. Anthropological papers of the AMNH, v. 63, pt. 1, 1986.

The archaeology of Mission Santa Catalina de Guale. 1, Search and discovery. Anthropological papers of the AMNH, v. 63, pt. 2, 1987.

The Archaeology of Mission Santa Catalina de Guale. 2, Biocultural interpretations of a population in transition. Anthropological papers of the AMNH, v. 68, 1990

The struggle for the Georgia coast: an 18th-century Spanish retrospective on Guale and Mocama. Anthropological papers of the AMNH, no. 75, 1995.

Bioarchaeology of the late prehistoric Guale: South End Mound I, St. Catherines Island, Georgia. Anthropological papers of the AMNH, no.84, 2002.

Native American landscapes of St. Catherines Island, Georgia. Anthropological papers of the AMNH, no. 88, 2008.

The beads of St. Catherines Island. Anthropological papers of the AMNH, no. 89, 2009.

From Santa Elena to St. Augustine: indigenous ceramic variability (A.D. 1400-1700): proceedings of the Second Caldwell Conference, St. Catherines Island, Georgia, March 30-April 1, 2007. Anthropological papers of the AMNH, no. 90, 2009.

Mission and Pueblo Santa Catalina de Guale, St. Catherines Island, Georgia (USA): a comparative zooarchaeological analysis. Anthropological papers of the AMNH, no. 91, 2010.

Trend, tradition, and turmoil: what happened to the southeastern Archaic? Proceedings of the Third Caldwell Conference, St. Catherines Island, Georgia, May 9-11, 2008. Anthropological papers of the AMNH, no. 93, 2010.

Geoarchaeology of St. Catherines Island, Georgia: proceedings of the Fourth Caldwell Conference, St. Catherines Island, Georgia, March 27-29, 2009. Anthropological papers of the AMNH, no. 94, 2011.

Seasonality and human mobility along the Georgia Bight: proceedings of the Fifth Caldwell Conference, St. Catherines Island, Georgia, May 14-16, 2010. Anthropological papers of the AMNH, no. 97, 2012.

* This is the correct spelling of the island.