News Items from UNC Greensboro

hands withh ancient pot

October is Archaeology Month, and several UNC Greensboro archaeology researchers will give virtual talks that focus on the mysteries and history buried beneath the earth in Guilford County and in Old Salem. The researchers will also lead an in-person Archaeology Day at the Greensboro History Museum, at 130 Summit Ave, in downtown Greensboro.

Archaeology Day at the museum will be Oct. 16, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and include engaging hands-on activities for all ages.

On Oct. 5, Geoffrey Hughes, lecturer in the Department of Anthropology will give a virtual talk, “Fashioning & Firing Identity: Experimentation in Moravian Ceramics, 1793-1831.”

Listen and learn on Oct. 5 at 6 p.m. through this link: https://linktr.ee/gsohistory

Hughes’ talk and Q&A session will explore early Moravian pottery production and technological innovations as revealed through the Lot 38 Archaeology Project in the Old Salem National Historic Landmark District, Winston-Salem, N.C. Hughes gives a preview of his presentation below:

archaelogical site

Some of the state’s most important pottery centers are located right here in the Piedmont region. One of those centers originated with the Moravians, German-speaking pietists who settled a nearly 100,000-acre tract of land they called Wachovia in the 1750s and located in what is now Forsyth County. Although ceramics scholars have written about the important role Moravian potters played in the development of North Carolina’s Euro-American ceramic tradition, our understanding of early kiln design and the production process before the 1820s is limited. In the congregation town of Salem, the administrative heart and center for church-run trades in Wachovia, the earliest excavated kiln dates to the 1830s—a period after the pottery became a private business …At Lot 38, we uncovered the remains of two early kilns. First, we found what was left of the small, experimental kiln and shed built in 1793. Then, we uncovered one of the two industrial kilns. This kiln was built in 1811. These are the oldest pottery kilns to be excavated in Salem and they offer a glimpse into early Moravian kiln design and building techniques. Within the kilns we recovered a variety of ceramic artifacts. In addition to utilitarian pottery, we recovered fragments of traditional Germanic slipwares, refined earthenwares and figurines inspired by contemporary British potteries, fragments of faience (a type of European ceramic that resembled porcelain), and stoneware. Although there are some references to Moravian-made stoneware in historic documents, exactly what that stoneware looked like remained a mystery, until now.”

On Oct. 12, Dr. Linda Stine, Associate Professor in UNCG’s Department of Anthropology, will give the virtual presentation “Colliding Worlds: Hidden Landscapes of Guilford County,” which emphasizes Greensboro’s historic and prehistoric sites hidden underground. The talk will reflect on the value of interdisciplinary work, and describe the combination of historic research, remote sensing, and what she and her research partners have learned about sites such as the Buis-Lindsay plantation, ordinary, and store near the Sandy Ridge Road farmer’s market, working with the High Point History Museum interest group. 

The Oct. 12 talk begins at 6 p.m. and will be available here: https://linktr.ee/gsohistory. Stine shared about her research:

“Looking for the missing site of the second county courthouse, located on the Battleground Park, we also unveiled a lot of information about the planned 1785 community of Martinville, instigated by Governor Martin and his brother-in-law. They had big plans to emulate Hillsborough and Salisbury as a growing, rich county seat situated at an important crossroads.  Geography and politics got the better of them and the county seat moved close to the center of the county, and thus, Greensboro was born. My talk will be interspersed with pictures of stone and brick building features, artifacts, students and maps. Some interesting things we found: a lice comb of bone, a pig jawbone, human teeth in a midden (garbage dump), clothing buckles, gilt buttons, bone buttons, locally-made ceramics, pottery from China and Europe, Native American pottery and stone tools, a lot of evidence for copper smithing, perhaps to make distillery equipment and general rivets.  I also want to talk about the colliding worldviews and experiences of the Scots-Irish, Germans, Africans, and others at the onset of the Revolution as embodied in the material remains we discovered. I am in the third draft of my book, an anthropological look at the Carolina Piedmont landscape from about 1740-1840. In it, I draw upon materials from digs at Guilford Courthouse, Caldwell Park, Blandwood, and elsewhere. Changing, hidden landscapes will be the theme, interdisciplinary work was the method, and the cool factor, hopefully, will be that the findings knit together in a believable pattern.”

Interviews by Susan Kirby-Smith, University Communications
Photography by Martin Kane, University Communications, and courtesy of the Department of Anthropology

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