Category Archives: WORLD

10 tons of copper coins unearthed in 2,000 years old ancient tomb

10 tons of copper coins unearthed in 2,000 years old ancient tomb

Archaeologists have unearthed more than two million copper coins from an ancient complex of tombs in the Xinjian District of China.

The 2,000-year-old money, which bears Chinese symbols, characters, and a square hole in the centre, was found at a dig site in the city of Nanchang.

The value of the coins is said to be around £104,000 ($157,340) and experts believe the main tomb is that of Liu He – the grandson of Emperor Wu, the greatest ruler of Han Dynasty.

Archaeologists have unearthed more than two million copper coins from an ancient complex of tombs in the Xinjian District of China
Archaeologists have unearthed more than two million copper coins from an ancient complex of tombs in the Xinjian District of China

The dynasty ruled between 206 BC and 25 AD.

Experts hope the discovery – which also includes 10,000 other gold, bronze and iron items, chimes, bamboo slips, and tomb figurines – may now shed more light on the life of nobility from ancient times.

The find follows a five-year excavation process on the site which houses eight tombs and a chariot burial site.

It covers (430,550 sq ft (40,000 square metres) with walls that stretch for almost 9,690 ft (900 metres) and experts believe Liu’s wife is buried in one of the tombs, RT reported.   

Xin Lixiang of the China National Museum said the next step is to look within the tomb for items that will give a clearer idea of the occupant. 

‘There may be a royal seal and jade clothes that will suggest the status and identity of the tomb’s occupant,’ he said.  

Chinese people started using coins as currency around 1,200 BC, where instead of trading small farming implements and knives, they would melt them down into small round objects and then turn them back into knives and farm implements when needed.

It meant early coins were known as ‘knife money’ or ‘tool money’, and as people began to rely on them more for commerce they were replaced by copper coins which were of very low value and often had holes in the middle.

The hole meant the coins could be strung together to create larger denominations, with typically around 1,000 coins on a single string being worth one tael of pure silver. 

The 2,000-year-old money, which bears Chinese symbols, characters, and a square hole in the centre, was found at a dig site in the city of Nanchang
The ancient money, which bears Chinese symbols, characters, and a square hole at its centre, was found at a dig site in the Xinjian District in the city of Nanchang, capital of East China’s Jiangxi Province
The hole meant the coins could be strung together to create larger denominations, with typically around 1,000 coins on a single string which was worth one tael of pure silver

At face value, they would be valued at around £104,060 ($157,340), but because of their age and history are believed to be worth far more.

A single coin can, in fact, sell for thousands of pounds, although at the time copper coins had a very low value. The Western Han was regarded as the first unified and powerful empire in Chinese history.

While there are many theories behind the fall of the Western Han Dynasty, recent research suggests human interaction with the environment played a central role in its demise.

A census taken by China in 2 AD suggests the area struck by the massive 14-17 AD flood was very heavily populated, with an average of 122 people per square kilometre, or approximately 9.5 million people living directly in the flood’s path. 

By AD 20-21, the devastated region had become the centre of a rebellion that would end the Western Han Dynasty’s five-century reign of power. 

Along with the tonnes of coins found were also chimes, bamboo slips, and tomb figurines, all of which accompanied deceased nobles of the past when they were buried underground.

The items discovered have promised to help fill in more gaps as historians try to complete the puzzle of ancient Chinese burial customs.

1,400-year-old Byzantine Hammer and Nails Discovered in Ancient Jewish Village of Usha

1,400-year-old Byzantine Hammer and Nails Discovered in Ancient Jewish Village of Usha

During a Sukkot holiday, some 8,500 individuals were participating in the IAA archeological excavations and activities, but none of them anticipated to discover the most closely associated with building the Sukkah – the hammer and the nails – from the Byzantine period, about 1400 years ago.

Aerial view of the winepresses and the adjacent ritual bath at Ancient Usha

This was the luck of a Tur’an family who participated in a Usha dig in the lower Galilee.

“About 20 iron hammers are recorded with the records of the Israeli Antiquities Authority, of which only six are from the Byzantine period,” according to Yair Amitzur and Eyad Bisharat, the directors of the excavation for IAA.

“It is already known that Usha settlers produced large quantities of glass vessels, as we find several wine glasses and glass lamps together with raw material glass lumps, and the discovery of the hammer, nails, and the adjacent iron slag tells us that they also made iron tools on the site.”

Some of the 15,000 pupils who participated in the archaeological excavations at Usha over the past year

Alongside these industries, complex pressing installations for the production of olive oil and wine indicate that the primary occupation and source of income of the Usha inhabitants was the large-scale processing of the agricultural produce of the olive trees and the vines that they cultivated on the surrounding gentle hillslopes.

Adjacent to the oil and winepresses were exposed two rock-hewn ritual baths with plastered walls and steps, dating to the Roman and Byzantine periods, about 1800 years ago.

The discovery of the ritual baths indicates that the Jewish press workers took care to purify themselves in the ritual baths in order to manufacture ritually-pure oil and wine.

The 1,400-year-old iron hammer and nails that were found at Usha

The main ‘workforce’ excavating the site are school children, youth and volunteers, who participate in the excavations thanks to the Israel IAA’s policy of bringing the community closer to its own cultural heritage.

Over the past year, more than 15,000 youth and families have taken part in the educational venture at Usha, digging and exposing the fascinating past of the site.

Amitzur also said that the town of Usha had been mentioned in Jewish sources since the first century CE.

“The settlement of Usha is mentioned in the Jewish sources many times in the Roman and Byzantine periods, as the village where the institution of the Sanhedrin was renewed, after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and after the failure of the Bar Kochba Revolt in 135 CE”.

“The Sanhedrin was the central Jewish Council and Law Court, and it was headed by the President, Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel the Second, who both presided in Usha, and then his son Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi”.

“Here in Usha, the Rabbis of the Sanhedrin made decrees to enable the Jewish people to recover after the war against the Romans, and to reconstruct Jewish life in the Galilee”.

Ancient wine glasses found at Usha

“The Jewish sources mention that Rabbi Yitzhak Nafha was an inhabitant of Usha, and his name ‘Nafha’, meaning ‘the blower’ indicates that he probably worked as a glass manufacturer”.

“The many delicate wine glasses, glass lamps, and glass lumps indicate that Usha inhabitants were proficient in the art of glassblowing. The ritual baths adjacent to the presses indicate that the Sanhedrin Sages paid particular attention to issues of ritual purity”.

The excavations at Usha are part of the Sanhedrin Trail Project that was initiated by the IAA, crossing the Galilee from Bet Shearim to Tiberias, following the movement of the Sanhedrin sages who finally convened in Tiberias.

The excavation is underway, continuing throughout the year with the participation of thousands of school children, youth and volunteers.

Also planned are special activity days open to the general public.  

11,000-year-old ancient temple found in eastern Turkey

11,000-year-old ancient temple found in eastern Turkey

In the form of the famous and controversial Góbekli Tepe, Archaeologists have uncovered a Temple from the Neolithic Age with 3 almost intact stelae.

In southeast Turkey’s Mardin province, the ancient temple was unearthed in Dargeçit’s district of Ilısu, which archeologists say has now turned 11,300 years old.

The scientific adviser for excavations at the Bencuklu Tarla (Beaded Field), the earliest known human settlement in the city, is Ergül Kodaş. Investigated from the Archeology Department of Mardin Artuklu University.

He told the press that this ancient spiritual center was active in the same era as the famous Göbekli Tepe which is considered the birthplace of early civilization and the oldest temple on earth.

Earliest Known Settlement at the Mini Göbekli Tepe

Dr. Kodaş and his team of archaeologists discovered that the 11,000-year-old temple walls were made of rubble and held in place with a hardened clay base, but they haven’t yet reached the base of the structure.

It is estimated that it might take at least a month to reach into the sacred building’s foundations. According to a report in Daily Sabah, within the excavation site, the archaeologists found four stone stelae, three of which were described as being “very well preserved” but “no figurative inscription” were found on any of the four stelae.

Four stelae were found at the Mini Göbekli Tepe discovery.

This 861 square foot (80 square meters) temple shares certain features with Göbekli Tepe and a Hürriyet report says “intense work” has been carried out in a large area which also includes the site known as Boncuklu Tarla (Beaded Field), the earliest known human settlement in Mardin which was discovered in 2008 during a field survey.

Ancient Finds In The Beaded Field

Erdoğan said that it was in the Aceramic Neolithic period that the “first sedentary society” emerged and that artifacts from this phase have been found in only a handful of places in Anatolia with “ stone or bone tools and weapons, ornamental items, and the first resident villages”.

However, there are further ancient sites which when interpreted with the new discovery reveal the building traditions of the ancient architects.

The mini Göbekli Tepe site is only one of a few similar sites.

A 2017 Daily Sabah article says archaeological excavations conducted by Mardin Museum Director Nihat Erdoğan and his team in the Boncuklu Tarla settlement uncovered the buildings, cultures, social lives, and burial traditions of the people who lived in northern Mesopotamia during the Aceramic Neolithic period between 10,000 BC to 7,000 BC. And just like this new discovery, their buildings had “rubble stone walls with foundations hardened by clay”.

Göbekli Tepe: Crown Of The Ancient World

While the discovery of this new temple adds volumes to our understanding of the religious and spiritual traditions of our forebears, it falls short of the mystique contained within Göbekli Tepe, the most ancient temple structure ever discovered.

This ancient site in southeastern Turkey is changing the way archaeologists think about the origins of human civilization and within its circular structure of elaborately carved T-shaped pillars dating to over 12,000 years ago, it is not only older than the invention of pottery, but it was built before agriculture was even conceived.

According to National Geographic the early dates associated with Göbekli Tepe “have upended the idea that agriculture led to civilization” because scholars had long thought hunter-gatherers had settled and began growing crops providing food surplus”, making it possible for complex societies to emerge, but no evidence of a permanent agricultural settlement at Göbekli Tepe has ever been discovered.

This leads many scientists to settle on the idea that because the temple is situated on the top of a hill commanding views southwards over plains, it was “a regional gathering place”.

A Cathedral Of Deep History?

Jens Notroff, a German Archaeological Institute archaeologist who works at Göbekli Tepe, says “back then”, 12,000 years ago, people would have to meet regularly to keep “the gene pool fresh” and to exchange information.

Now, with smaller versions of the pillars, symbols, and architecture of Göbekli Tepe being found, does this mean Göbekli Tepe was similar in function to Ness of Brodgar on Orkney; a vast Neolithic cathedral serving regional churches ( temples)?

Forgetting Ness of Brodgar was built around 3,000 BC while Göbekli Tepe was active before 12,000 BC, both buildings were early spiritual landmarks, spiritual sentinels, and organized spaces in wild and unpredictable landscapes.

Maybe the most successful hunter-gatherer groups met at Göbekli Tepe on key dates through the year, with each one having its own local monumental structure for feasts and to display the first excesses resources – wealth.

Nodosaur Dinosaur ‘Mummy’ Unveiled With Skin And Guts Intact in Canada

Nodosaur Dinosaur ‘Mummy’ Unveiled With Skin And Guts Intact in Canada

A heavy equipment company began mining a strange colored stone at Millennium Mine in northern Alberta in 2011.

His supervisor quickly realized that they had something special, Michael Greshko reports for National Geographic. He stopped looking more closely and puzzled the material, which had strange patterns.

A little fossilized skin had recently been extracted from an armored nodosaur, a kind of ankylosaur. Nevertheless, this was not just a fossil; it was one of the best-preserved specimens of nodasaurus ever discovered.

The fossil remains are incredibly lifelike, resembling a sleeping dragon.

According to National Geographic, which sponsored the five-year, 7,000-hour preparation of the fossil, it’s likely that the 3,000-pound,18-foot-long creature died in or near a river. Then its bloated carcass floated out to sea before sinking back-first into the muck where fossilization began.

“It’s basically a dinosaur mummy—it really is exceptional,” Don Brinkman, director of preservation and research at the Royal Tyrrell Museum where the fossil is housed tells Craig S. Smith at The New York Times.

The remarkable preservation of its armored plates, as well as some preserved scales, are helping paleontologists finally understand the size and shape of the creature’s keratin defenses.

“I’ve been calling this one the Rosetta stone for armor,” Donald Henderson, curator of dinosaurs at the Tyrrell Museum tells Greshko.

The nodasaurus fossil on display (Courtesy of Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller, Canada)
The nodosaur has been described by some scientists as the “rhinoceros of its day.”

As Matt Rehbein at CNN reports, the dino is 110 million years old, making it the oldest ever found in Alberta. It also represents a new genus and species of nodosaur. But the most exciting aspect may be at the microscopic level, Greshko reports.

The researchers have detected miniscule bits of red pigment, which could help them reconstruct the dinosaur’s coloration—a feature that may have helped it attract mates.

“This armor was clearly providing protection, but those elaborated horns on the front of its body would have been almost like a billboard,” Jakob Vinther, an animal coloration expert from the University of Bristol who has studied the fossil, tells Greshko.

The new specimen isn’t the only exceptional ankylosaur specimen recently unveiled. Just last week Brian Switek at Smithsonian.com reported that the Royal Ontario Museum discovered a new species in Montana, which they nicknamed Zuul. That specimen also has some intact armor plates and skin as well as a tail club.

Switek explains that during decomposition the armor plates of ankylosaurs typically fall off and are often washed away or not found.

But the discovery of these two extraordinary samples will go a long way towards helping researchers figure just what these animals looked like and how they used their formidable horns and armor.

The nodosaurus is now on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta, as part of an exhibit highlighting the importance of cooperation between extraction industries and paleontologists in uncovering fossils.

11,000-year-old Spiritualized Deer Masks Whisper Tales Of A Forgotten World

11,000-year-old Spiritualized Deer Masks Whisper Tales Of A Forgotten World

The headdresses are the star exhibits in A Survival Story – Prehistoric Life at Star Carr which gives visitors a fascinating glimpse into life in Mesolithic-era Britain following the end of the last Ice Age.

At the time people were building their homes on the shore of Lake Flixton, five miles inland from what is now the North Yorkshire coast, Britain was still attached to Europe with climates warming rapidly.

As well as the spectacular headdresses, made of red deer skull and antlers, the exhibition features other Mesolithic-era objects such as axes and weapons used to hunt a range of animals such as red deer and elk.

One of the three Mesolithic deer skull headdresses from the new exhibition.

Also going on display is a wooden paddle – used to transport settlers around the lake – as well as objects for making fire. Beads and pendants made of shale and amber also provide evidence of how people adorned themselves, as do objects used for making clothes from animal skins.

Most of the objects on display are from MAA. They were recovered from excavations conducted at the site by Cambridge archaeologist Professor Grahame Clark. More recently, excavations have been conducted by archaeologists from the Universities of Chester, Manchester, and York.

It is also the first time so many of the artifacts belonging to MAA have been on display side-by-side. Many of the objects are very fragile and can’t be moved, meaning it is a unique opportunity to see such a wide selection of material from the Star Carr site.

Exhibition curator Dr. Jody Joy said: “Star Carr is unique. Only a scattering of stone tools normally survive from so long ago; but the waterlogged ground there has preserved bone, antler and wooden objects. It’s here that archaeologists have found the remains of the oldest house in Britain, exotic jewellery and mysterious headdresses.

“This was a time before farming, before pottery, before metalworking – but the people who made their homes there returned to the same place for hundreds of years.

“The most mysterious objects found at Star Carr are 33 deer skull headdresses. Only three similar objects have been discovered elsewhere – all in Germany.

Someone has removed parts of the antlers and drilled holes in the skulls, but archaeologists don’t know why. They may have been hunting disguises, they may have been used in ceremonies or dances. We can never know for sure, but this is why Star Carr continues to intrigue us.”

As well as the headdresses, archaeologists have also discovered scatters of flint showing where people made stone tools, and antler points used to hunt and fish. 227 points were found at Star Carr, more than 90pc of all those ever discovered in Britain.

Closer to what was the lake edge (Lake Flixton has long since dried up), there is evidence of Mesolithic-era enterprise including wooden platforms used as walkways and jetties (the earliest known examples of carpentry in Europe) – where boats would have given access to the lake and its two islands.

First discovered in 1947 by an amateur archaeologist, work at Star Carr continues to this day. Unfortunately, recent artifacts are showing signs of decay as changing land use around the site causes the peat where many artifacts have been preserved naturally for millennia to dry out. It is now a race against time for archaeologists to discover more about the site before it is lost.

“Star Carr shows that although life was very different 11,500 years ago, people shared remarkably similar concerns to us,” added Joy. “They needed food, warmth, and comfort. They made sense of the world through ritual and religion.

“The people of Star Carr were very adaptable and there is much we can learn from them as we too face the challenges of rapid climate change.

There are still many discoveries to be made, but these precious archaeological remains are now threatened by the changing environment.

“As they are so old, the objects from Star Carr are very fragile and they must be carefully monitored and stored. As a result, few artifacts are normally on display. This is a rare opportunity to see so many of these objects side-by-side telling the story of this extraordinary site.”

Artist’s impression of Star Carr 11,000 years ago: The climate was warming and people were making masks, or headdresses, out of red deer skulls
Mesolithic hand axes – Star Carr, Yorkshire

A Survival Story – Prehistoric Life at Star Carr is on display at the Li Ka Shing Gallery at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Downing Street, Cambridge, from June 21 to December 30, 2019. The entry is free.

Frozen moss reveals fatal final journey of 5,300-year-old ice mummy

Frozen moss reveals fatal final journey of 5,300-year-old ice mummy


According to a study released on October 30th, 2019, in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by James Dickson of the University of Glasgow (UK) and colleagues at the University of Innsbruck, Alongside the famous Ötzi, the Iceman is buried, at least 75 species of bryophytes -mosses and liverworts — which hold clues to Ötzi’s surroundings.

Ötzi Iceman is a remarkable 5,300-year-old human frozen ice specimen that has been found in the Italian Alps at around 3,200 meters above sea level.

He was frozen alongside his clothing and gear as well as an abundant assemblage of plants and fungi. In this study, Dickson and colleagues aimed to identify the mosses and liverworts preserved alongside the Iceman.

Otzi is an incredibly well-preserved glacier mummy that’s 5,300 years old.

Today, 23 bryophyte species live the area near where Ötzi was found, but inside the ice, the researchers identified thousands of preserved bryophyte fragments representing at least 75 species.

It is the only site of such high altitude with bryophytes preserved over thousands of years.

Notably, the assemblage includes a variety of mosses ranging from low-elevation to high-elevation species, as well as 10 species of liverworts, which are very rarely preserved in archaeological sites.

Only 30% of the identified bryophytes appear to have been local species, with the rest having been transported to the spot in Ötzi’s gut or clothing or by large mammalian herbivores whose droppings ended up frozen alongside the Iceman.

From these remains, the researchers infer that the bryophyte community in the Alps around 5,000 years ago was generally similar to that of today.

Furthermore, the non-local species help to confirm the path Ötzi took to his final resting place. Several of the identified moss species thrive today in the lower Schnalstal valley, suggesting that Ötzi traveled along the valley during his ascent.

This conclusion is corroborated by previous pollen research, which also pinpointed Schnalstal as the Iceman’s likely route of ascent.

Dickson adds, “Most members of the public are unlikely to be knowledgeable about bryophytes (mosses and liverworts). However, no fewer than 75 species of these important investigative clues were found when the Iceman (aka Ötzi) was removed from the ice.

They were recovered as mostly small scraps from the ice around him, from his clothes and gear, and even from his alimentary tract.

Those findings prompted the questions: Where did the fragments come from? How precisely did they get there? How do they help our understanding of the Iceman?”

7,000-year-old Fortress Found Under the Yumuktepe Mound, Turkey

7,000-year-old Fortress Found Under the Yumuktepe Mound, Turkey

At the Yumuktepe mound in southern Turkey’s Mersin province, a fortress wall dating back 7000 years from the Chalcolithic period was unlodged.

Map of the Hittite Empire at its greatest extent, Mersin and the Yumuktepe mound is located on the southern coast

As an ongoing settlement 9,000 years since the neolithic era, the Yumuktepe Mound is extremely important.

Two and a half months of excavations at the mound are coming to an end on Friday.

In this year’s excavations, a group of 30 people led by Isabella Caneva-a professor of archeology at the University of Salento in Lecce, Italy – focused on Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods

Caneva said that the 7-meter fortress wall discovered this season can now be shown to the public.

A fortress wall dating 7,000 years back to the Chalcolithic Age has been unearthed at the Yumuktepe Mound in southern Turkey’s Mersin province.

While every year’s excavations have provided historical insights, this year’s dig produced especially “striking” Neolithic and Chalcolithic findings, Caneva said.

Caneva said the layer in Yumuktepe Mound is special in that it contains very special architecture.

Similar seal as to what was discovered at the Yumuktepe mound.

The fortress wall was made with a variety of materials, including a 1.5-meter-thick support wall made of limestone at the bottom, 2 meters of well-cut stones and 3 meters of mudbrick.

Previous excavations had discovered the existence of the castle, dating back to 5,000 B.C., but the team did not uncover the wall until this season’s deeper dig in the area.

“We didn’t know that there was such technology in that period in technical terms. Now we see it and it’s a special structure.

There was certainly a special product being made there because a normal village would not require such a thick and solid wall,” Caneva said, explaining that the village is the oldest site in the world known to produce molten copper.

“This is a very important product. Later on, there was a war for metal. It was an important technology and a valuable substance. Tools, flashy objects and weapons were all made with copper,” she said.

The team also discovered that homes in the Neolithic period were built in a certain way, continuously constructed on top of one another, for 2,000 years.

Caneva expressed hopes that the site will be developed into an open-air museum for visitors in the future.

Spanish Armor Plate Discovered in North Carolina

Spanish Armor Plate Discovered in North Carolina, U.S.A

Spanish soldiers took over the Native city of Catwba, Joara, about 60 miles east of Asheville, on an excursion from Florida about 450 years ago.

Fort San Juan is the first known European settlement to be established in the south-east of the USA about fourteen years before the British came to Jamestown. In Appalachia, Spanish became the first European language.

The story of Spanish soldiers coming to Catawba is, like much of American colonial history, characterized by colonization and ethnocentrism.

David Moore, an archeology teacher at Warren Wilson College, said: “There’s this sense of who is the other,” For nearly three decades Moore has been the executive archeologist, who has been leading research and excavations at the Barry site. Fort San Juan was about the size of a modern-day basketball court. He says the remains of the structure are more intact than any other colonial fort in North America. 

The site of the Spanish army’s Fort San Juan near Morganton.

“In effect, it’s 100 percent intact. We have the entire outline of it,” Moore said. “Unfortunately, plowing over the years has destroyed the upper levels of it, but it’s still far more intact than any other Spanish colonial fort. “

When Spanish explorer Captain Juan Pardo and his men arrived in 1566, they declared the Catawba Indians, who didn’t speak their language, new subjects of the king. The Spaniards forced the natives to construct the soldier’s homes and provide them meals. While the two groups lived side-by-side, the relationship was fraught by mounting mistrust and resentment. 

“So this relationship of two groups understanding each other very poorly, trying to figure out what to do with the other was constantly in the air,” Moore said. 

The tension ultimately propelled the Catawba to force the Spanish army out, changing the course of American history.  The absence of the Spaniards allowed for  English colonists to move inland and take their place. It’s how the English language gained a foothold in the region. 

“That colonial experience continued to be detrimental for native peoples,” Moore said. “The effects of the slave trade, of diseases, and of the political, economic and social disruption of tribal groups that ended up collapsing a social and political system that had been in place for nearly a thousand years.” 

There’s one particular artifact Moore’s team found that offers a snapshot of the Spaniards’ suspicion — and superstition. 

“We found a small piece of scrap metal, almost square in shape, and about an inch and a half in diameter,” Moore said. They discovered it was a small plate of armor, the kind that was sewn into garments during the medieval period. It was placed vertically in the soil, next to a post in the framework of a Spanish soldier’s house. 

A vest lined with a jack of plate armor believed to be English or Scottish, from 1590.

Moore and his team were perplexed by the armor until one historian reached out offering multiple references in Medieval European literature. Metal objects were commonly placed in the frames of homes to fend off black magic.  

“A Spanish soldier had placed this in the building to ward off witches, especially because Indian women were feeding them,” Moore said. “Many people think of native peoples being uncivilized, but here we have modern Europeans employing this kind of folklore to ward off magic. 

That wasn’t lost on Catawba Indian Beckee Garris when she first learned about the Spaniard’s supernatural object. “I kind of laughed, because, in all cultures, there’s a bad person, or a particularly bad spirit, if you want to call it that,” Garris said. 

Garris is a storyteller. She also makes Catawba pottery, much like the fragments scattered across the archaeological site. Garris says she makes pots the same way her ancestors did 500 years ago — without a kiln and with clay harvested from the same spot.

“It not only touches my heart, but it also touches my soul that our buried history is coming to light again. We are learning about ourselves now as well about our past,” Garris said. “Before European contact, there was no written history. Everything was passed down orally, and you had to hide who you were because of prejudices and laws that were made by the government.”

David Moore shows WCU students a rendering of the Spanish fort during a visit to the excavation site in September.

Bringing visibility to these early American stories still is a work in progress. The English settlers’ arrival in Jamestown exactly 400 years ago is commonly seen as the beginning of European colonization in the US. 

“This is something that we struggle within the US. White folks are not the first folks to have been here,” Paul Worley, Western Carolina University associate professor of global literature, said. He recently took students from Latinx Studies composition and literature classes to the excavation site.  

“Given the current moment in the United States, I think it’s a fairly radical thing to go back and talk about these histories,” Worley said. “Both on the Native American side and both on the Spanish colonial side. Because these are both histories that are frequently denied or ignored altogether.”

Worley wants students to think about US history from a multicultural and multilingual perspective – to consider writings from Spanish explorers, Native Americans and enslaved Africans. And maybe, he says, resurrecting those narratives will reframe the retelling of America’s story, both past, and present. 

For the archaeologist, there are still lessons to be learned from the Joara-Fort San Juan site. “450 years ago this tragedy unfolds because people don’t acknowledge the humanness of each other. That’s certainly a lesson we’re still trying to learn today,” David Moore said.