"Alcoa wants to make sure the Hardaway collection has
a good home, and it has always been our intention to donate it to the University,"
said Barbara Stewart, a librarian at Alcoa Corporate Center in Pittsburgh. "We want
to do what's right in communities where we have a presence."
The collection is being appraised but its value transcends a dollar
"Hardaway is our best window into life 10,000 years ago,"
said Vin Steponaitis, director of the Research Laboratories. "This gives us a
collection we can use to teach students and citizens of North Carolina about some of the
oldest cultures in the state."
Steponaitis praised Alcoa's stewardship of the site and the
artifacts, and said the company was instrumental in winning National Historic Landmark
status for the site recently from the Department of the Interior.
Approximately 1.8 million pieces from Hardaway were collected
between 1948 and 1980 and brought to Chapel Hill for study. Only about 10 percent has been
cleaned and cataloged. Boxes and boxes - 491 to be precise - of artifacts are stored in
Wilson Library awaiting study. Steponaitis is seeking gifts and grants to finish the job.
Even so, 10 percent was enough for Carolina researchers to publish
two groundbreaking archaeological studies based on material found at the site.
Carolina alumnus Tod Hunt '70, great-grandson of an Alcoa founder,
helped Carolina make the connection with Alcoa headquarters. His grandfather, Roy A. Hunt,
was chairman of Alcoa when a Carolina archaeologist first set foot at Hardaway.
Alcoa built an aluminum manufacturing plant at Badin in 1917. The
site was named for the Hardaway Construction Co., builder of the dam at Badin Lake that
provides electricity for the plant.
The area had been popular among arrowhead hunters for years, and in
1937 an Alcoa engineer brought UNC archaeologist Joffre Coe to the site. Formal
excavations began on a small scale after World War II; then Coe turned his full attention
to the site in the mid-1950s. He found a rich array of spear points - enough to determine
that at least three distinct cultures occupied the site during the Archaic Period (8000 -
1000 B.C.). The name "Hardaway" was given to the earliest type of spear-point
found, followed by "Palmer" and "Kirk" - names of Badin families.
Coe was the first to determine a cultural sequence for the period,
and his 1964 book The Formative Cultures of the Carolina Piedmont detailed his
findings. But sharing his information had a down side - relic hunters from all over the
outheast descended on the site and removed some artifacts, despite the best efforts of
Alcoa and the University to protect the site. Today, North Carolina's open records laws
protect archaeological sites by permitting their locations to be withheld.
In the second major Hardaway study, published last year as Hardaway
Revisited (University of Alabama Press), UNC-CH doctoral student Randy Daniel
compared Hardaway material to artifacts found at other sites in the Carolinas and traced
individual pieces to ancient stone quarries in the Uwharrie mountain area. His work gives
scientists a new perspective on early travel and settlement in the region.
Steponaitis said Alcoa's gift makes the Hardaway artifacts
permanently available to future scholars and students at Carolina. He expects that new
technologies will be used to answer new questions, much as Daniel was able to shed new
light on ancient cultures 35 years after Coe's work was published.
The artifacts from Hardaway join the University's 5 million-piece
North Carolina Archaeological Collection, one of the finest collections of Southeastern
Archaeological materials. The collection contains artifacts from about 7,000 North
Carolina sites, with 98 of the state's 100 counties represented. It also includes
extensive photographic collections dating from the 1930s, and smaller archaeological and
ethnographic collections from Latin America, Europe and Japan.
The collection is dominated by materials from the piedmont,
including findings from the UNC-CH campus. Excavations at the Eagle Hotel site near Graham
Memorial and the Poor House behind Battle-Vance-Pettigrew turned up details of early
student life. Work at the Occaneechi Town site on the Eno River in Hillsborough revealed
the beads, bells and pipe bowls signaling first contact with Europeans.
The collection outgrew the Research Labs' small basement quarters in
Alumni Building years ago. Much of it is stored in Wilson Library. The library needs the
space, and Steponaitis wants to bring the collection out to teach North Carolinians about
the state's first inhabitants. His plans include a traveling exhibit for schools and
libraries around the state and a new building to house the collection and exhibit its
"This is the archive that underlies our current understanding
of North Carolina's ancient history," Steponaitis said. "The North Carolina
Archaeological Collection needs a permanent home, a place where this part of the state's
legacy will always be available for teaching and research and can be displayed to the