Archaeological Excavations at the Runion Site, a Fortified Protohistoric Town on the Nolichucky River, Washington County, Tennessee

This listing expired on June 20, 2018. Please contact for any updated information.

Location: Johnson City, TN, US

Season: July 8, 2018 to August 5, 2018

Session Dates: arrive July 8, 2018 and depart August 5, 2018. ETSU 2nd Summer Session, essentially.

Application Deadline: June 7, 2018

Deadline Type: Contact for details

Program Type:
Field school

RPA Certified:

East Tennessee State University (ETSU)

Project Director:
Jay Franklin, PhD, Professor of Anthropology, ETSU

Project Description:

We will spend 4 weeks excavating portions of a mid/late 16th century to early 17th century protohistoric fortified town site on the breathtaking Nolichucky River in Washington County, Tennessee in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. The town is a protohistoric Overhill Cherokee town but with multi-ethnic communities. It is also likely that Juan Pardo’s entrada or some of his men under Sergeant Moyano visited/burned the town. Geophysical surveys have identified a large structure that may be a native council house or possibly a Spanish outpost (Ft. San Pablo?). Numerous early European artifacts have already been recovered from the site and nearby contemporaneous sites in the valley. These include brass tinkling cones, brass effigies, glass beads, Spanish majolica and olive jar fragments, arquebus lead shot balls, etc. Recent work has also indicated the middle Nolichucky to be the most likely route of Pardo’s entrada from Joara to Chiaha (Sampeck et al. 2015). We have identified at least 11 probable domestic structures, most of which appear to be significantly burned (as does the big structure). We will ground truth the large structure and excavate 1-2 of the smaller domestic structures. There also appears to be a moat or some other kind of defensive structure forming a C-shaped arc around the western perimeter of the town. The Nolichucky River forms the eastern boundary. We will excavate a slot trench through this feature to investigate its nature.

Period(s) of Occupation: Mississippian, protohistoric, Cherokee, early historic era, Spanish contact era

Mississippian town, fortified town, protohistoric house floors, Spanish contact, Juan Pardo

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 4 weeks

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: none

Room and Board Arrangements:
For ETSU students the project is local so no housing costs are necessary. For students coming from outside the project area, please contact Jay Franklin ASAP for assistance with securing lodging for the project. Funding for lodging costs cannot be provided by the project, but we will assist with arranging it with you. Students are responsible for the food costs. Students are responsible for their own meal preparation. Students will pack a lunch to the site daily. Cost: ca. ~$1500.00, which includes tuition, fees, etc. Students from outside the project area and need housing can expect the cost to be an addtional $200-300.00.

Academic Credit:
3 or 6 credit hours (3 credit hours is preferred) credits offered by ETSU . Tuition is Students should register for ANTH 4407: Archaeological Field School (OR 5407 for graduate students). A 3 or 6 hour section is available. Cost: Students are responsible for their tuition & fees. Students will split housing costs at Pickett State Park (cabins/houses). Individual costs for housing for the 4 week session should be secured by the student (for outside students). Students are also responsible for their food costs, though we will occasionally eat together for events and those meals will be covered by the project. The course is offered as three (3) credit hours OR 6 credit hours (If the 3 credit hour option is chosen, students may later repeat the course for a total of six credit hours). In-State rates are offered for all students. Out of state students are urged to contact Jay Franklin ASAP to make these arrangements. In state rates for out-of-state students are provided by a separate contract in association with Terre Ancienne, a French archaeological organization with whom we work and have exchange agreements. For non-ETSU students, there is a $25.00 University application fee as visiting students. See Visiting Students on ETSU's web site..

Contact Information:

Jay Franklin

223 Rogers-Stout Hall, Box 70644

Johnson City




Phone: 4238336249

Fax: 4234395313

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