Archaeology Magazine

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Earliest European Interior Fort Uncovered in North Carolina

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

FortMORGANTON, NORTH CAROLINA—Spanish explorer Captain Juan Pardo built Fort San Juan in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in what is now North Carolina in 1567. “Fort San Juan and six others that together stretched from coastal South Carolina into eastern Tennessee were occupied for less than 18 months before the Native Americans destroyed them, killing all but one of the Spanish soldiers who manned the garrisons,” said Robin Beck of the University of Michigan. Beck and a team of researchers from Tulane University and Warren Wilson College had been excavating several houses that had been occupied by Spanish soldiers and the Native American town of Joara, but they did not find the fort and its moat, a corner bastion, and a graveled entryway until last month.