Excavations at earliest European settlement in US yield new discoveries

Latest excavations at Fort San Juan – the earliest known permanent European settlement in the interior United States, located near Morganton, North Carolina, unravels early entanglements between Native Americans and European explorers, revealing how their interactions shaped the history of the American South.

Remains of the San Juan Fort (by Ryan Wallace)

According to Chris Rodning, who’s leading the excavations, the archaeological footprint of the fort has been discovered. It was located in relation to a nearby Native American settlement called Joara. Fort San Juan was established in 1566 by the Spanish explorer Juan Pardo, who arrived in the region with a group of soldiers. At first, an alliance formed between Pardo and the people of Joara, but in 1568, warriors from Joara sacked the fort and burned the compound. According to the researchers, architectural materials and designs of burned houses at the site demonstrate evidence of the typical Native American style of architectural design and construction, but some wooden fragments also indicate that they were cut and shaped with metal tools. The significance of that is Native Americans didn’t have those types of metal tools. The researchers suggest that native Americans gained access to these new tools from Spanish soldiers, or Spanish soldiers participated in their construction and maintenance.

(after Ryan Wallace & PhysOrg)

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