Prior to workers in North Carolina clearing out land for the Triangle Expressway, archaeologists investigated the site to see if there were any signs that the original inhabitants of the state once occupied the area and what they found was pretty exciting.
In an interview with ABC11, Matt Wilkerson, who is the head of the archaeology unit with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), described what they found, “As a result of the survey for this entire corridor, we identified, I believe, it’s over 155 sites.” These sites were located in the southeastern part of Wake County below the town of Garner and close to Williams Crossroads.
They spent three months digging through the sites and they unearthed numerous ancient artifacts that included jewelry, tools, and pottery. According to Susan Bamann from the Commonwealth Heritage Group, one piece of broken pot dates back to around the year 500 AD. “We’ll probably do some chemical analysis on it [the inside of the pot]. It’s possible to extract residues from the wall of the ceramic vessel and determine the kinds of foods that were being cooked in the vessel,” she said.
In addition to the broken pot, several other artifacts including tools were unearthed approximately 12 inches underground and they all date back to around the same time period of 500 AD. Other tools that were found were called “points” (stone tools with sharp edges) and they date back between 6000 and 8000 BC during the early Archaic Period.
While tools and pottery are pretty interesting, the most exciting discovery was a piece of jewelry. The broken and once polished stone piece that had holes drilled into it dates back about 10,000 years. Bamann further described it, “Probably a piece of personal adornment, jewelry, if you will,” adding that “it’s a two-holed item that someone would have suspended as a piece of personal decoration or ornamentation. At least that’s what we believe these items are. So, finding something that’s a personal item from someone who lived here, and camped here is, I think, is just one of those things that makes all of this extra interesting because it’s a little bit of a glimpse into the past.”
As for who these items belonged to, it is believed that the location was once a common campsite that the nomadic natives used in addition to being a popular place for hunter-gatherers. Furthermore, some of the items were made from stones that were not found at that specific location so the ancient people would have traveled great distances to get to the site. Bamann explained that the projectiles were “all fashioned from stone, some of these from the stone source that we associated with the Uwharrie Mountains”. The mountains are located in Montgomery County which is almost 100 miles away.
The ancient artifacts will eventually be brought to the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology. Two videos showing the artifacts can be seen here.