On Friday we visited the Berry site, a long term archaeological research site near Morganton, North Carolina. The current project is co-directed by Dr. Christopher Rodning of Tulane University in New Orleans and Dr. David Moore of Warren Wilson College.
Dr. Rodning was kind enough to give us a tour and explain the significance of the site. A large Native American town was located at the site from 1400 to 1600 A.D. Archaeological investigation at the Berry site focuses on the Spanish contact period, when the town was known as Joara, and visited by Hernando de Soto in 1540, and Juan Pardo 30 years later. A fort was built at the site by Pardo in 1567 and lasted for 18 months before it was abandoned due to conflict with the Native people.
The Berry project is impressive in both its large scale and its community atmosphere. There were at least a dozen people working, and they ranged in age from 18 to 50. They worked as a harmonious team, with some shovel skimming the surface of units, while others were sifting the earth through screens, carting the dirt away in wheelbarrows and washing artifacts. They took their morning break during our visit, and distributed popsicles and ice cream sandwiches to all workers and guests as a cool treat to beat the heat.
As our group looks on, Dr. Rodning climbed up a latter to photograph large features from above.
Our group was able to examine the recently unearthed and washed artifacts as they dried in the screens.
Following our visit to the Berry site we stopped for lunch and then traveled back to Tennessee to continue our work.