The scientific study of past people and cultures by looking at things left behind. These things may be objects (artifacts) or stains in the dirt (features), but together (their context) they help us understand humans and their interactions across time and space.
A more detailed explanation on types of archaeology can be found here: http://www.pbs.org/opb/timeteam/field/uncovered.php.
If you are interested in becoming an archaeologist, you should plan on getting a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology or Archaeology from a university. In order to excavate, you must also complete an archaeological field school, such as the one offered each summer at the Berry site. Additionally, most states require an archaeologist to have a Masters degree or higher in order to run an archaeological site. For more information, visit the American Anthropological Association, Society for American Archaeology, or Society for Historical Archaeology.
Adhere to the National Park Service motto: “Take only pictures, leave only footsteps (or bubbles, if it’s a submerged resource)!” Use your phone or camera to take a picture of your cool find (be sure to include something like a pencil or quarter to as a scale) and get your coordinates using a mapping app. Leave the cool thing in place and send your image and map to a park ranger, college with an archaeology program (like Warren Wilson College), or to EJF’s Staff Archaeologist (firstname.lastname@example.org), and they will help you identify your find. Who knows, maybe you have identified a whole, previously undocumented site!
Archaeologists designate time periods and cultures based on technological and ideological advances. They usually cover great regions, but don’t necessarily indicate all practicing participants were members of the same “tribe.” For example, Mississipian-period people are those living between 1000 AD and European contact in what is now the southeastern United States. This is a period of growing cultural complexity, development of corn agriculture, population increases, and a distinctive style of art and ideology. To learn more about the Mississippian period in NC, visit this page on the Learn NC website.
Joara is what the Spanish called the village in which they chose to build Fort San Juan during their 1566-1567 expedition. The village was named “Joara” or “Xuala” by Hernando de Soto when he passed through the area in the early 1540s. It is the phonetic spelling of the name of the chief of the village at the time Soto’s expedition passed through. This name stuck in subsequent official Spanish records. What the local inhabitants called this powerful village and even what they called themselves has been lost in time. As the 16th and 17th centuries progressed, the Spanish presence was eliminated, and the Native Americans were forced out of the area. In the 18th century, the Berry family arrived in the area and began their now nearly-two and a half century ownership of the property. When Dr. Moore began his work there in 1986, he named the site after the landowners, and the term “Berry Site” came to be. When it was founded in 2008, EJF chose “Exploring Joara” because at that time, only the Native American occupation of the site had been discovered. We can now invite the public to explore Joara, Fort San Juan, and the Spanish village of Cuenca.
The Catawba Meadows Living History Village with its structures built using archaeological evidence is open during Catawba Meadows Park’s hours of operation (8:00am- 5:00pm). The Berry Site, however, is on private property and unaccompanied visitation is not permitted. If your group would like to schedule a private tour of the Berry Site, please contact EJF Staff Archaeologist Melissa Timo (828-764-1147 or email@example.com). You can also speak to Ms. Timo about scheduling group presentations, youth programming, or to learn more about our summer camps.
No. It is against Exploring Joara’s policy to place a value on artifacts. Archaeologists believe that artifacts are invaluable pieces of our shared history and therefore have no monetary value.
The Berry site is on property owned by the Berry family, and therefore all artifacts from the site are the family’s property. The Berry family supports the professional archaeological research conducted at the site, and has generously loaned all artifacts found through excavations to scientific research. As of 2014, artifacts from the Berry site are washed, sorted, and analyzed at the Warren Wilson Archaeology Lab near Asheville, North Carolina. Specialists throughout the country are currently analyzing additional soil samples, metal artifacts, and the burned timbers from the site.
Digging for artifacts without the supervision of a trained archaeologist leads to the destruction of our history. Artifacts mean very little without the information gained from careful documentation. Digging on state or federal lands without a permit is a felony, and digging for artifacts is illegal without the permission of the private landowner.
The Exploring Joara Foundation offers many opportunities to participate in archaeological work through its membership events, Field Days, and summer camps for youth.
When artifacts are moved, or if an archaeological site is disturbed, valuable information is lost. Without the context of a site, artifacts have little scientific or historical value. Hundreds of sites throughout North Carolina are destroyed each year due to construction, agriculture, and looting. North Carolina’s archaeological resources represent over 12,000 years of culture and history and are our only window into understanding our past.
Unfortunately, while they were close, the Spanish never found precious metals in NC. The men Juan Pardo left behind were asked to speculate, but they never came across the haul of their dreams. If the Spanish had found gold, there is no way they would have abandoned the struggling northern reaches of the colony. History would have looked much different if they had; North Carolina would be firmly in Latin America.
The Berry Site is on private property, so access is limited. EJF strives to bring the public out throughout the year when the dig season is on. We offer tours, mini-field schools, and dig opportunities in Spring and Fall. Field schools, kids’ Summer Camps, and Dig Day occur in the summer. Private tours for students or small groups may be arranged by contacting staff archaeologist, Melissa Timo (828-764-1147 or firstname.lastname@example.org). Fees may apply, so contact us for details.
Artifacts are like fragile puzzle pieces- all are necessary to complete the picture of what life was like in the past. Sometimes, especially for people who were unable or not allowed to write down their past, artifacts are the only surviving evidence that a person or community ever lived. Archaeologists and researchers carefully and meticulously record all of their findings and preserve and store the artifacts they collect in order that they are available to share with others interested in adding to the story of a community, culture, place, or species.
If you own, have inherited, or collected an artifact from private property (on which you have express landowner permission to collect on), and you would like help identifying it, contact EJF Staff Archaeologist Melissa Timo (email@example.com). Please send a clear picture with an object included to act as a scale (pencil, quarter, bottle cap, etc.). Pictures from multiple angles are helpful!
Become a Member
- - Free or reduced access to special events
- - Member Days and special tour days at the Berry Site
- - Hands-on archaeology labs at the Wall Center
- - Community Days at the Catawba Meadows Living History Center
- - Academic presentations by experts in the field