Archaeologist David Moore
Stone zoomorphic carvings found at the archaeological dig at Fort San Juan
Randolph-Macon College hosted Archaeologist David Moore on September 10, 2012. Moore
presented “Worlds Collide: 16th Century Spanish Armies and Native American Chiefs
in the North Carolina Piedmont” to a standing-room-only crowd.
Moore is one of the principal archaeologists excavating the ruins of the Berry site,
the 16th-century Spanish Fort of San Juan outside Morganton, North Carolina.
According to Moore, three lines of evidence support the Berry site archaeological
dig as the place where Fort San Juan existed. Spanish documents, archaeological
evidence of burned buildings at the site, and 16th-century Spanish artifacts found
at the site all support his theory. Examples of the latter include ceramic olive
jars, iron wires from chainmail, and a variety of iron nails. One of the consequences
of this short-lived Spanish settlement was the virtual depopulation of indigenous
peoples in the region, along with the loss of their culture. Thus, when the English
moved to the Piedmont frontier they thought they had encountered “virgin land.”
Lost as well has been the impressive history of Native American resistance to the
The event was sponsored by the First-Year Experience
course “Untold Stories, Vanished Peoples,” taught by Professors Kimberly Borchard
(Spanish) and Reber Dunkel (sociology).
The course explores the accounts of early explorers and settlers and how they affected
Native Americans and the landscape of America.
For Kianna McLeod ’16, Moore’s lecture was an eye-opening experience.
“I found it interesting that nails were found at the fort; in my opinion that illustrates
that the Spaniards would have helped the Native Americans in the construction of
the fort,” said McLeod. “The talk was interesting and it makes me want to dig deeper
into the history of our past. It also makes me look forward to our trip later this
month to the Pamunkey Indian Reservation for kayaking and canoeing on the Pamunkey
River, touring their museum and a presentation by Chief Kevin Brown.”
“The talk gave me a better perspective about what America is and what it was,” said
Marylita Poma Pacheco ’16, who hails from Peru. “Most foreigners
are taught about the English invasion of America, but we usually don’t learn about
other invasion attempts, such as the one by the Spanish. One of the goals of this
FYE course is to learn about ‘forgotten stories.’ Dr. Moore’s talk was about the
presence of the Spanish colonizers in America, specifically in North Carolina. This
same event was analyzed in class with a reading of ‘Juan Pardo and the Shrinking
of the Spanish La Florida 1566 – 68.’ The talk gave us a good perspective about
Dr. Moore’s thesis, his conclusions, and his reflections about what really happened
in La Florida.”
Students enrolled the FYE course “Irreplaceable Resources: Recording our History,
Mapping our Environment,” taught by Professors Chas. Gowan (environmental
studies) and Elizabeth Fisher (classics),
also attended the event. The course explores the science of making maps with Geographical
Information Systems (GIS) to chart some of the irreplaceable historic resources
in Hanover County. Gowan says Moore’s lecture was helpful to students in two ways.
“First, he showed how cool archaeology is, and that is going to motivate students
to really engage in the tough work ahead,” says Gowan. “Second, he showed some great
maps, made by using GIS of his dig sites. Now my students can better envision the
kind of maps they will be making and why those maps are so important to archaeologists.
In short, Dr. Moore showed us what we can accomplish, an invaluable lesson for freshmen.”
The lecture was also sponsored by the Committee on Assemblies and Special Events
(CASE), the Departments of Spanish,
Sociology and Anthropology, and History,
and the Archaeology Program.
In spring 2012, the Randolph-Macon
College faculty approved a new major in archaeology. The archaeology
major brings together knowledge from many disciplines to understand our past. The
new program emphasizes World Heritage stewardship and the safeguarding of historic
sites in all areas of the world.