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The Berry Site Archaeology Project has received the 2019 Shanghai Archaeology Forum’s Field Discovery Award.

The Berry Site is an active archaeological site of a Native American town and a Spanish fort dating back to the 16th century. Dr. David Moore, an archaeology professor at Warren Wilson College, discovered the site and has led research and excavations for nearly three decades.

The site is co-directed by Dr. Robin Beck (University of Michigan), Dr. Christopher Rodning (Tulane University), and Dr. Rachel Briggs (Warren Wilson alum 2006; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). Moore and Beck traveled to Shanghai in December, where Beck presented their research in a lecture at the Shanghai Archaeology Forum, a biennial international archaeology conference.

Moore and his colleagues received the Field Discovery Award for their book, "Fort San Juan and The Limits of Empire: Colonialism and Household Practice at The Berry Site," published in 2016 by the University Press of Florida. The book derives from more than a decade of archaeological field and laboratory research at the Berry site, located near modern-day Morganton.

Berry is the site of the Native American town of Joara, where Spanish conquistador Captain Juan Pardo established the garrison of Fort San Juan and the colonial town of Cuenca in December 1566. Occupied until its destruction and abandonment in early 1568, Fort San Juan was the earliest European settlement in the interior of what is now the United States. It was founded 18 years before England’s “Lost Colony” on Roanoke Island, North Carolina, and 40 years before Jamestown in Virginia.

The Berry Site Project begins its 20th year of operation in 2020. The field school runs for the month of June and is open for credit or non-credit participation. Each year 50 to 60 people from around the country take part.

This year the team will excavate a newly discovered burned building as well as a portion of the interior of Fort San Juan. No archaeological experience is necessary to join the field school. You may find more information about the Berry site field school at https://sites.google.com/warren-wilson.edu/arch. You may also reach David Moore at dmoore@warren-wilson.edu.

If you are interested in participating in the Berry site excavations but can’t spend a whole week on the site, the Exploring Joara Foundation in Morganton offers weekend opportunities to interested volunteers to visit and work at the Berry site beginning in April and lasting through September 2020. These weekend experiences are open to the public. The Exploring Joara Foundation also sponsors the annual Berry Site Field Day held this year on June 20. There will be site tours, artifact displays, demonstrations, children’s activities, and vendors. You can find more information about EJF activities at https://exploringjoara.org.

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