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In the spring of 1983, archaeologists discovered a village site — which they called the Fredricks site — near Hillsborough, N.C. After finding several European artifacts and Indian-made pottery fragments on the surface, they dug test pits in search of archaeological deposits. Three excavated pits contained human skeletal remains accompanied by European- and Indian-made grave goods — items that had been buried in the graves. Most of these artifacts dated to the late 1600s or very early 1700s, the appropriate period for Occaneechi Town. From 1983 to 1986 and again in 1995, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Research Laboratories of Archaeology conducted archaeological investigations at the site, confirming that the village was, in fact, historic Occaneechi Town. (Find more information about the Excavating Occaneechi Town project.)

You can view the segments all together below, or scroll down further to view each clip separately.

Video Clips from Excavating Occaneechi Town

1. Digging and Screening Plowed Soil

The first step in excavating a square is to remove the top layer of dark soil about one foot deep, called the plow zone, that has been disturbed by modern farming. Here is a video of students digging and screening plowed soil. (00:34)

2. Pits

Archaeologists also find larger features, such as pits. This video shows archaeologist Trawick Ward explaining why ancient pits were dug and refilled. (00:56)

3. Discover

Archaeologist Trawick Ward describes how the site of Occaneechi Town was discovered. (01:24)

4. Disease

Archaeologist Steve Davis describes the impact of European diseases on Indian populations in North Carolina. (02:17)

5. Feature

Here we see an ancient storage pit being excavated by students at the archaeological dig at Occaneechi Town. The digging is done very carefully by hand, using a tool called a trowel. (00:51)

6. Trowel

Removing the plow zone exposes a lighter colored earth below, called subsoil. It also reveals undisturbed archaeological remnants. At Occaneechi Town the subsoil consists of a tan-colored, stiff clay. (00:27)

7. Water Screening

Soil excavated from a feature is processed through a contraption called a waterscreen. In this video, students pour soil into a wooden sluice, a device for controlling the flow of water. The soil is then filtered through a mesh screen designed to catch artifacts. (00:25)