EXCAVATIONS AT THE AMITY
FINAL REPORT OF THE POMEIOOC PROJECT:
Paul S. Gardner
The Pomeiooc Project was a cooperative effort from 1984 to 1989 of the East Carolina University Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the Friends of North Carolina, Inc., the Hyde County Historical Society and the North Carolina Division of Archives and History Office of State Archaeology. Its goal was to locate and identify the archaeological remains of the coastal Algonquian town of Pomeiooc.
Pomeiooc was visited in 1585 by members of the short-lived English colony on Roanoke Island. At that time John White immortalized the town as the subject of a watercolor painting, and he and Thomas Harlot located it on a map of the Carolina Sounds region. The painting shows Pomeiooc as a substantial palisaded village of 18 longhouses. The map indicates that Pomeiooc was located between Lake Mattamuskeet and Pamlico Sound in what is now Hyde County, North Carolina.
During the course of the project, over 6200 acres (2500 hectares) were surveyed by archaeologists, but only one significant Native American site was located. The Amity site (31Hy43) produced a surface collection of artifacts including Colington Simple-stamped pottery and rouletted terra cotta smoking pipes. As these are considered horizon markers of the Postcontact period in the Carolina Sounds region, the Amity site was considered a likely candidate for the village of Pomeiooc.
Initial tests of the site in 1985 under the direction of Paul R. Green produced glass projectile points and evidence of house patterns. Further excavation in 1986 emphasized mechanical stripping of plowzone and revealed postmold patterns of one longhouse, one subrectangular house and a portion of a palisade. Although no artifacts diagnostic of the late sixteenth century were recovered, two radiocarbon dates of 450 B.P. ± 100 (Beta-17507) and 160 B.P. ± 50 (Beta-17508) were obtained. The former was considered especially encouraging.
In 1988 excavation resumed at the Amity site funded by a special appropriation of the North Carolina General Assembly. The excavations in 1988-1989 demonstrated the site palisade to have, if circular, a projected diameter of only 50 feet (16 meters), and that the site consisted of no more than two to three houses. In addition the assemblage of trade goods recovered from the site indicates an occupation in the mid-seventeenth century. These include glass projectile points fashioned from square-sectioned bottles; glass seed beads of Kidd and Kidd varieties IIa14, IIa41, IVa11, and IVa14; and kaolin pipe stems yielding a Binford formula date of A.D. 1661. Only a single gunflint was recovered and no gun parts. Furthermore, excavations at Virginia sites indicate that Colington Simple-stamped pottery and rouletted terra cotta pipes were prevalent during the mid-seventeenth century.
Reluctantly I conclude that the Amity site is not Pomeiooc, but is rather a small Native American farmstead or hamlet of the mid-seventeenth century. Presumably it was inhabited by the descendents of the people of Pomeiooc and the forebears of the later Machepungo or Mattamuskeet Indians. The site was probably located to take advantage of the relatively well drained mineral soils of the ridge surrounding Lake Mattamuskeet. Analysis of botanical and faunal remains indicates that the inhabitants of the Amity site practiced a mixed subsistence economy combining hunting, fishing, gathering and agriculture. No Old World cultigens were recovered, but the spring-ripening grasses maygrass and little barley were surprisingly abundant.
It is suggested that one or both of these may represent the "reed" observed by Thomas Hariot and the mattoume reported by John Smith as foods of the coastal Algonquians.
Finally I speculate that the archaeological remains of sixteenth century Pomeiooc are presently either in a currently forested section of the ridge surrounding Lake Mattamuskeet or have been lost to coastal erosion or marsh expansion as a result of rising sea level.
The Pomeiooc Project has benefited immeasurably from the support of many people. Certainly worthy of first mention is State Representative Howard Chapin, who made possible a special appropriation from the North Carolina General Assembly to the North Carolina Division of Archives and History that funded the 1988-1989 research. The Friends of North Carolina Archaeology, Inc., Malcolm Davis, president, managed the special appropriation for the NCDAH. Funding for the 1985-1986 investigations was provided through the America’s Four Hundredth Anniversary Committee and the American Quadricentential Corporation under a grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. The funding process was orchestrated in large part by David Stick. Additional funding was provided by the East Carolina Bank through Bank President Roy Clark. The labors and generosity of these people and organizations are much appreciated.
John Maiolo and Michael Orbach of the East Carolina University Department of Sociology and Anthropology were instrumental in making the resources of the university available to the project. Mark Mathis, Office of State Archaeology, provided the liaison between the Friends of North Carolina Archaeology, Inc. and East Carolina University. As well, Mark maintained the momentum of the project over its five year period and contributed significantly to its organization and administration. And, as always, he has been unstinting with his advice and opinions.
The people of Hyde County were unfailingly kind and generous and in many ways made the project one of the most enjoyable the author has experienced. Special thanks for access to the site are owed to Seth Henry Collins, Harvey Mann, Ferrell Berry and Marcel Marshall, the owners and farmers of the land on which the site is located. Ferrell and Marcel also donated time and equipment to moving backdirt and stripping plowzone. The members of the Hyde County Historical Society and the Hyde County Rotary Club are appreciated for both their material and inspirational support. Leon Ballance, T.J. Mann, and R.S. Spencer are especially thanked for their support and longstanding commitment to the project.
The field crew for the 1988 season was provided by the Operation Raleigh American Expedition. The participants are too numerous to mention, but their efforts are appreciated. I do wish to single out Bob Fadala for his yeoman’s efforts in maintaining order and direction among fifty-odd international young people in rural Hyde County. The fieldwork benefited as well from the efforts of volunteers Emily Freeman, Kris Gremillion, Mark Mathis and Anne and Jennifer Poole. I wish to offer a special thanks to David Jones, my assistant during the 1988-1989 field seasons. His tireless professionalism in supervising untrained Operation Raleigh "volunteers" and his unfailingly good humor in the face of a seemingly endless series of muddy, unproductive squares made my job as PI much easier.
The analysis and report writing have been improved by the comments and expert opinions of friends and colleagues. David Lawrence of the ECU Geology Department identified some of the Amity site lithic specimens and offered suggestions as to their possible sources. Linda Carnes, Randy Daniel and Steve Davis, all of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, aided in the identification of stone tools. The faunal material from the site was analyzed by Annie Holm of UNC-CH. The analysis of the botanical material was mercifully completed by Kris GremilIion when the author became swamped with other tasks. Keith Egloff of the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission and Stephen Potter of the National Park Service offered many helpful comments and were invaluable sources of information concerning the archaeology of the Middle
Atlantic Region. Paul Green, principal investigator for the Pomeiooc Project in 1985-1986, provided a sound start for the project and offered helptul suggestions during the following years. The discussion of the 1985-1986 field seasons is based on his reports and notes, and the pottery tables incorporate some of his analyses. In addition Keith Egloff, Paul Green, Kris Gremillion, Thomas Loftfield, Mark Mathis, David Phelps and two anonymous members of the Office of State Archaeology reviewed an earlier draft of this report and by doing so improved it.
Finally, I especially thank David Phelps for his advice and assistance in all phases of the project and for cheerfully tolerating yet another squatter in his archaeology laboratory. His insights into coastal Algonquian archeology and culture history have sharpened much of my own thinking and have improved this report in numerous ways. Of course, I alone must accept responsibility for the conclusions, opinions and errors of the final product.
|List of Figures||viii|
|List of Tables||x|
|Appendix A: Scientific Nomenclature||75|
|Appendix B: Distribution of Pottery Types by Square||76|
Source: Gardner, Paul S. 1990 Excavations at the Amity Site: Final Report of the Pomeiooc Project: 1984–1989. Archaeological Research Report No. 7, Archaeology Laboratory, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina.
See Also: The Archaeology of 31HY43, "Pomeiooc" 1985-1986 Field Seasons, by Paul R. Green. (1987), America’s Four Hundreth Anniversary Publication, Archaeology Laboratory, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.
Carolina Algonkian Project, All Rights Reserved