Archaeological excavation underway along Eno River where Native American town once stood

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- UNC Students and professors are working on an archaeological excavation in the Triangle and hikers can get an up-close look.

The Wall site is along the Eno River walk trail, not far from historic downtown Hillsborough. The five-week dig is part of the Research Laboratories of Archaeology summer session field school at UNC-Chapel Hill.

"It's teaching undergraduate students how to do archaeology, how to do field work," said Dr. Heather Lapham, a Research Archaeologist who teaches the program. "We are working on a site that was a Native American village that was lived in by ancestors of groups local to Chapel Hill area in 1500."

Students spend five weeks excavating the southern end of what used to be a village. They are sifting through a trash midden for the village.

"A midden is just a trash deposit scattered over a surface," Lapham said. "It gives us a really good baseline of what Native American life ways looked like here in the central Piedmont on the eve of European colonization."

The artifacts uncovered from the Wall site will go back to the university where a class will sort it for the fall session.

The last time students worked at this site was 2016 when the riverwalk trail was not yet extended past the site.

Now, with so many hikers passing by, as part of the class, two students work an information table and answer questions Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. for visitors.

The students are also keeping social media accounts updated through the class which ends Friday, June 14.

Once the students are finished with their coursework, the Wall site is filled in and there is no trace of the excavation.

The best places to park to access the excavation are the Vietri parking lot where you can access the walking trail behind the building towards the Eno River across the Oxbow Foot Bridge.

Hikers can also access the site by parking at the Occoneechee Speedway Trail.
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