Miscellany 14: Joara & Fort San Juan

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6/25/2016. Once a year,
an archeological dig a few miles northwest of Morganton opens to the public. Researchers from Warren Wilson College, Tulane, and who knows where all show off the season's work on the proto-Catawba community of Joara and on Fort San Juan established by Juan Pardo during a Spanish expedition in 1566-1568.

Last week, I wondered when this year's open house would be, and it turned out that it was this morning. I've never been out there. Away we went, arriving a few minutes before official visitation hours only because I allowed time to get lost, and we didn't. We had the site more or less to ourselves, and while midday heat was headed into the 90's, we enjoyed a relatively cool amble in the morning shade.

The site is being excavated piece by piece; uncover one section, catalog everything on the way down, then return it to pasture for preservation; open a new section. Repeat until everything has been mapped, tested, and documented out the wazzoo.



Several-frame panorama from the top of the mound of removed soil. The Proto-Catawba village
was mostly to upper left. The foreground dirt is exposed to search for fort walls etc. In the field
to the right were Spanish residences.

Click the image for a clearer view.


featured dig

Top soil layers have been removed. Not quite down to the good stuff here.
Click the image for a closer look.



What are these ancient structures? Modern plough scars, actually.
That's why you have to ask an expert.


post hole

Different colors of soil mean things. The green pin marks a dark circle
likely made by a post hole dating from the age of the Spaniards' visit.



Screens for parting fluff from finds.



In this layer, artifacts reveal a surprising passion for 20th Century poetry.




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                   © 2016, David Cortner