Friday May 14, 2010 | Archaeological Site in North Carolina

May 13, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Posted in Coming Up | 4 Comments

Did you know that one of the most important colonial period archaeological sites in the US exists in North Carolina? Morganton is home to “Berry site,” a current archaeological treasure where Spanish settlers once built forts almost 20 years before the English landed on Roanoke Island. We’ll talk about the discovery and long-term excavation of this area and the history at the heart of it.
Carolina Ketron
– Exec. Archaeologist, Exploring Joara Foundation
Dr. David Moore – Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology at Warren Wilson College and Director of the Warren Wilson College Field School at the Berry site

  • Warren Wilson Archaeology
  • Event  |  May 22nd is the 1st Annual Joara Pottery Festival, featuring artifacts from the site on display at the Burke County Fairgrounds. More info.

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  1. Do you all allow visitors at the site, or is it off limits to the public?

    This is extremely fascinating. I had no idea the Spanish had attempted to colonize the interior of NC many decades before the English. I knew Hernando De Sota had come through NC sometime in the 1540s, but I didn’t know they actually attempted to settle there. This is definitely a major piece of hidden history.

    (And what do you know, my great-great-great grandmother was a Spaniard, though I am mostly English/Anglo-Saxon – and much of my family has been in the Carolinas for over 2 centuries)

  2. Can we find other sites (maybe smaller) from Santa Helena to the current Berry Site?

  3. Thanks for your interest. The Exploring Joara Foundation has a public field day June 26 (Saturday) when the public can come to the Berry site (the site of Fort San Juan) and see what we have been up to–there are excavations in progress, demonstrations of native crafts, and lots of educational materials. Please see our website for more information, or call me at our office at 1 (828)439-2463. In response to Josh’s comment–it’s certainly possible, but unfortunately for archaeologists, many good places to build a town in the 1500’s have remained good places to build, and thus have been overcome by modern development. “The Juan Pardo Expeditions” by Charles Hudson is a good reference if you are interested in more information about the actual route.

  4. Dig carefully anywhere and you’ll find something. But you have to pay for at least a masters degree in archaeology to claim you are beginning to understand the significance of the artifacts you uncover. I imagine the Indians in “Morganton” took better care of their environment and understood Creation better than the gold hungry Spanish. So why do we celebrate these furtive invasions or even care? Is it some sort of racial or genetic affinity? The colonial period denotes the horizon of the elite perversion we call corporate business. Considering how our miserable lives are dominated by oligarchical financial needs and sensibilities it is no wonder we celebrate Colonial Corporatism as sacred. Why don’t you Archaeologists chew on that muffin awhile? (I always hoped Warren Wilson College was providing an “anticipatory education” for a better world, but probably not.)

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