Unearthing the Forgotten Past - Joara and Fort San Juan





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Published on Sep 3, 2013

As a child Robin Beck explored the farm owned by his aunt and uncle, Pat and James Berry, outside Morganton, N.C. While there he discovered arrowheads and pieces of pottery that he matched to pictures in books at the library. This sparked an early interest in archaeology for him.

Fast forward to today and Beck, now a UNC alumnus, has teamed up with two other UNC alumni archaeologists, David Moore and Christopher Rodning.

The three are excavating the site of the oldest European settlement in the interior U.S. on the Berry land where Beck first found those arrowheads as a boy.

The land is the site of Fort San Juan and Cuenca, a settlement established by Spanish explorer Juan Pardo. Pardo established his settlement on the site of the American Indian town of Joara in 1567.

Eighteen months later the relationship between the Indians and the Spanish soldiers turned sour, and the fort was burned to the ground.

Beck and his colleagues have formed the Exploring Joara Foundation to support long-term work at the site. Through the foundation, the three now hold summer camps, field schools, and teacher workshops to allow others not only to learn about archaeology but also to be a part of "unearthing the forgotten past."

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