Millsaps students dig up gold coin during project


Students in Dr. Michael Galaty’s Archaeological Method and Theory class were digging at the Manship House on April 17 when freshman Jordan Taylor found an 1854 Liberty Head gold dollar.

These coins, issued between 1849 and 1854, were made of 90 percent pure gold, and were therefore the smallest coins in U.S. history.

“There’s a lot of coal, pieces of brick, pottery and lots of glass,” Taylor said of other findings at the site.

“Some of it is even cut glass,” said his classmate, sophomore Caroline Meyers, who, along with junior Elizabeth Albert, were excavating in the same unit as Taylor.

The Manship House Museum is located off Fortification Street in Jackson, and was built in 1857 as the home of Charles Henry Manship, the Civil War mayor of Jackson. 

“We were expecting to find various historic artifacts,” said Galaty, “but we weren’t expecting to find a gold coin. These are extremely rare in archaeological excavations. As you might imagine, people were very careful not to lose their gold coins!” 

Students bagged their artifacts to take back to campus after the dig. The next step, Taylor and Meyers explained, was to analyze all the pieces they found, writing reports on the procedures and discoveries. 

The class is an introduction to the practice of archaeology and provides students a basic understanding of the ways in which archaeologists study and seek to understand past human behaviors.