Our project is an archaeological study of native culture and community in the upper Catawba Valley of western North Carolina during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The native chiefdom in this province was centered at a town with a platform mound that was first built during the 1400s. This settlement is represented by the Berry site. Spanish expeditions traveled through western North Carolina during their explorations of inland areas of southeastern North America in the 1500s. These early Spanish visitors may have been to the Berry site. They may have stayed here for a winter and maybe even built a fort at this town. Their presence at Berry or at least in this part of the western Piedmont is evident from the numbers and diversity of European artifacts that have been found at the Berry site and at sites along the headwaters of the Yadkin and its tributaries. Our project is studying the nature of the community whose main center was the mound and other public space at the Berry site and the effects of early encounters and interactions between this native chiefdom society and European colonists. We are conducting excavations to expose the burned remnants of wooden structures built close to the mound at Berry, continuing the fieldwork initiated by David Moore in 1986. We will also be revisiting some outlying settlements downstream from Berry, including sites identified by Rob Beck during his archaeological survey of Upper Creek and Warrior Fork in 1996.
Catawba Valley Mississippians, by David Moore, University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, 2002
North Carolina's First Peoples
North Carolina's Archaeology Homepage
David Moore, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Warren Wilson College, Asheville
Robin Beck, Doctoral Candidate of Anthropology, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
Chris Rodning, Doctoral Candidate in Anthropology, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Thanks for the contributions of Warren Wilson College, Western Piedmont Community College, the Historic Burke Foundation, the Burke Historical Society, and the many college students who have participated in the archaeological study of ancient native peoples in western North Carolina. Thanks to the Berry, Collett, Carey, and other families in Burke County who have contributed to the preservation and study of archaeological resources in the upper Catawba Valley. We appreciate donations of field school supplies from Julie Swaney, Eddie Sellers, Lowe's Hardware, Walker's Salvage, Wall Lumber, Abbott Construction, Ingles, Sossoman Funeral Home, and Herbert Gwynn. We are grateful to our friends at Western Piedmont Community College and Warren Wilson College for their help with planning, paperwork, graphics, and publicity.