PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — For the last two years, Gulf Coast State College students have visited several sites in the Old Town neighborhood in St. Andrews to collect artifacts.

“It’s probably in the hundreds or thousands if you were to count up every little tiny bit or every single artifact like from nails to pottery and glass shards to coins to buttons to animal bones,” GCSC Anthropology Professor Jason Wenzel said.

Some of the artifacts are from one of the oldest Bay County structures, the G. W. West House, which is in old St. Andrews on West Beach Drive. It was built in 1887 and named after one of Panama City’s founding fathers, George Mortimer West.

“We do have history here, we do have archeology,” Wenzel said.

Students take an archeological course and then spend a handful of Saturdays out in the field.

Professor Wenzel said the hands-on work serves two purposes.

“When students actually get into the field and actually engage with the history, the actual sites and the artifacts that people made left behind, I think it just gives them one a greater sense of appreciation and two, by having them do some tangible activities, I feel like they retain the information a lot better,” Wenzel said.

Collecting the items is only the beginning of this project.

“A general rule in archeology, for every hour that’s spent in the field doing a survey or excavation, there’s about five to seven hours of lab work that follows, and that includes cleaning the artifacts and sorting them and cataloging them, analyzing them, labeling them, curating them, displaying them,” Wenzel said.

Volunteers and students will continue the lab work until they have evaluated everything collected. Dr. Wenzel said the artifacts represent over one thousand years of Panama City’s history. They’ll be stored at the Panama City Publishing Company Museum in St. Andrews.