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Old 11-15-2006, 01:46 PM   #1
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Foraging for Tuscarora Indian artifacts

Link here:

http://www.wilsondaily.com/Wil_regio...0020505005.php

ELM CITY Sloughing through 6 inches of mud, archaeologists and an historian continued the hunt for a lost Native American village in Wilson County on Monday afternoon.

The group of hunters, consisting of contract archaeologists Tom Beaman and Nick Jarman and retired Barton College professor Jerry MacLean, plodded their way through farm fields in Elm City and Saratoga the lands made gelatinous by Sunday's rains.

The men were searching for evidence of Indian habitation. Monday's search was part of an 18-month effort to trace Tuscarora villages through the county.

In the late 1990s, two East Carolina University archaeologists embarked on a two-year study of Tuscarora communities in eastern North Carolina. The archaeologists examined sites in Pitt, Lenoir, Wayne and Greene counties, however their time limit ran out before the duo could search in Wilson County. With the county's 150th anniversary last year, the sesquicentennial committee felt it was time to add Wilson to the ECU survey.

Indigenous artifacts found in Wilson are being shipped to the state for storage and analysis and the sites are being mapped.

Beaman, of Black Creek, said he used the guidelines set in the earlier survey to look for the lost sites. That guideline, which includes a proximity to water, elevation and soil type, has paid off, he added. After months of walking fields, Beaman said he is confident he's uncovered evidence of at least seven Tuscarora sites in Wilson County.

Jarman, of Bailey, has been cataloguing the stone tools and projectile points the group has collected since the search began. He said the evidence supports much of what Beaman postulated.

Now working with a contract office for the University of New Mexico, Jarman returned home this week to visit his family and continue helping the search.

Monday's search found no evidence of Tuscarora artifacts, but yielded plenty of artifacts dating back thousands of years. Holding up one projectile point estimated to be about 6,000 years old, Jarman hypothesized that it had been re-sharpened several times before losing its aerodynamic shape.

"At that point it would have been used as a knife or a scraper," Jarman said.

Farm fields have been a favorite to search because of the constant turning of the soil. As farmers plow the fields, treasures from the past sometimes come to the surface. Some of these treasures include Native American projectile points, pottery sherds and other worked stone pieces. Jarman said Sunday's rain made conditions ideal for looking for the artifacts because the dirt had been packed down.

While the archaeologists took some pieces from the fields, they also left something behind as well the soles of a pair of hiking boots. The powerful suction of the mud ripped the soles clean off one of the hunters' boots.

"You ought to leave that sole behind for future archaeologists to find," MacLean quipped.

The Tuscaroras arrived in what would later become North Carolina around 800 A.D. The Tuscaroras claimed the land between the Tar River and the Neuse River, from the Pamlico Sound to near Raleigh.

Wilson historian Hugh Johnston wrote that a Tuscarora settlement was "apparently on the waters of Buckhorn Branch near its junction with the north side of Toisnot Swamp exactly two miles southeast of Godwin's Bridge." While there are Tuscarora artifacts on that site, Beaman said the evidence is overwhelming that there's more than one site in Wilson County.

"We didn't find any evidence of the Tuscarora today, but we are learning a great deal about the various peoples who lived here thousands of years ago," said Beaman, an anthropology and archaeology instructor at Wilson Technical Community College.

But despite coming up short on the Tuscarora search, Beaman said the day's finds confirmed what he's long thought about the Wilson County area and Native American populations.

"I'll keep saying it, a good place to live is a good place to live is a good place to live," he said.

Most archaeologists believe that the first people in the North Carolina coastal plain were Clovis people who arrived around 10,000 B.C. At that time, the climate here was similar to upstate New York. Around 8,000 B.C., the climate warmed up, changing the culture of the people who lived here.

People lived near the confluence of streams, but they also had many temporary sites where they would stay while they hunted.

About 1000 B.C., their culture changed again. They began living in permanent settlements and farming as well as sending out hunting parties. They made and used pottery.

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