Skip to comments.Discoveries might reveal origins of Southeastern N.C.'s first inhabitants
Posted on 05/10/2010 4:19:52 AM PDT by Palter
WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH | A local captain and his crew have discovered a unique rock and nearby artifacts that might help reveal how the first people came to Southeastern North Carolina thousands of years ago.
Geologists said the rock, called black chert or novaculite, was previously thought to only be available in vast quantities in the mountains of Arkansas. Zulu Discovery, a local underwater exploration company, found a very dense version of the rock dozens of feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean off Wrightsville Beach. Chert was used by the first people in North America, called Paleo-Indians, to create the stone tools they needed to survive.
The discovery of black chert off local shores could rewrite America's prehistory by supporting a theory that Paleo-Indians might have come to the continent via a coastal route rather than by land, said Phil Garwood, a geology instructor at Cape Fear Community College who first identified the local rock as chert. The exact route Paleo-Indians followed will always remain a mystery, but clues have come in the form of the tools they left behind.
This is a piece of the puzzle, Garwood said.
In collaboration with CFCC, Zulu Discovery founders Capt. Jim Batey and his son Rusty Batey hope to find grants and other sources of funding to continue their research and exploration of the areas where they've found the rock and artifacts. The Bateys don't want to reveal the exact depths or locations of their finds, fearing the disruption by other divers of their efforts to study the material.
Continuing their research, Zulu Discovery and CFCC met with state geologists and an underwater archaeologist recently to present their findings and get some advice on what to do next.
Kenneth Taylor, chief of the N.C. Geological Survey, was one of those geologists.
One of the things about it, when you look at samples of chert very, very hard, very, clear chert, that has to come from Arkansas. There's not an outcrop of this stuff in North Carolina, Taylor said, explaining the prevailing theory. Now there is. If there are archaeological artifacts that prove its first peoples' or native peoples' ... This is outstanding. It's outstanding. It then says that they had a ready source nearby.
The rocks weren't underwater thousands of years ago.
It's offshore today, but it wouldn't have been covered by the ocean at that time because the ocean didn't come that far inland, Taylor said.
Not just a piece of cement
The North Carolina black chert, dubbed SeaViculite by Zulu Discovery, was found by accident.
Zulu Discovery diver Kevin Rooney picked up the unusual rock last summer as he searched underwater ledges for shark's teeth and fossils.
He brought it up just to see what it was, just to bring it to the surface and analyze it, Rusty Batey said.
At that time, no one suspected it was anything special.
We just thought it was a big square piece of cement, Rusty Batey said.
It wasn't until several months later, when Jim Batey got tired of seeing the rock in his yard, that they got their first clue to the rock's significance. Jim threw it to Rooney, telling him to get rid of the cement-colored stuff, when a piece of it broke off, revealing a lustrous black interior.
I knew it was something that needed to be looked at. It was so unusual, said Jim Batey, who added that he'd never come across anything like it in his 45 years of deep-sea diving.
Jim gave it to Tim Shaw, a marine technology instructor at CFCC, who showed it to Garwood.
If there's one rock in the world I know, it's chert, said Garwood, who studied chert in Australia. Chert is a sedimentary rock, believed to have formed when the shells of ancient, microscopic sea creatures fused together, Garwood said.
People might have been picking up those rocks for years and they just didn't know what it was, Taylor said. It took showing the find to someone who knows rocks, like Garwood, to make the significant connection, Taylor said.
Garwood said the SeaViculite is being analyzed by a laboratory at the College of Charleston in Charleston, S.C., and so far the lab has found an 85 percent probability that the SeaViculite is the same material used to make tools found in Southeastern North Carolina.
The artifacts Zulu Discovery has found near the underwater chert sites and identified by Garwood include an ornament called a gorgot, a scraper used to clean hides, a knife and a stone used to start fires.
Rusty Batey said he's mailed at least 30 samples of the SeaViculite to flint knappers people who make stone tools and others for examination.
Jim Batey said the crew plans to take an archaeologist from the state's Underwater Archaeology Branch to one of their chert sites. In addition to showing him the sites, they want the archaeologist, Nathan Henry, to examine a possible artifact that looks like it might be a pot of some kind. A video shot underwater by Zulu Discovery's Video Ray Pro III remote operated vehicle shows a half moon shape wedged under a ledge. The Zulu Discovery diver didn't want to try to pull out the potential artifact, fearing it's destruction.
The question of whether parts of the chert locations need to be preserved as culturally significant sites is another reason Zulu Discovery is working with the state and college on the project, alternately called Operation Chert and Project SeaViculite.
This may be a very significant site archaeologically if indeed it turns out there is cultural material associated with the rock, said Richard Lawrence, director of the state's Underwater Archaeology Branch.
We don't want to disturb a site if it's an Indian site, Jim Batey said.
The company has not yet determined whether mining the chert, which would require permission from the federal government, would be a profitable venture. In addition to its historical value, chert has commercial value, including its ability to sharpen knives, surgical instruments and wood carving tools.
We don't know where it's going to go right now, Jim Batey said.
The company plans to continue exploring the SeaViculite sites they've already found and look for more.
You could make your projectile points for the next whole year by wintering over at that location, Taylor said, of the large pockets of chert already found by Zulu Discovery. That's incredibly fascinating.
Zulu Discovery owner Jim Batey holds a piece of North Carolina black chert that his crew found off the North Carolina coast.
‘supporting a theory that Paleo-Indians might have come to the continent via a coastal route rather than by land’
And this tells us how people came to North Carolina?
What am I missing?
“What else floats on water?”
Wasn’t Mayberry in NC?
Paleo-Indians butchering a bison at the end of the Ice Age. Pembina State Museum exhibit
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These guys might be about to make fools of themselves. Chert was used for ballast. It was also used to pave roads. For all they know, it could have washed out to sea in a nor’easter back during the depression, or was dumped by a ship during the Civil War.
LOL! Your question shows an awareness of NC cue but falls short.
Eastern. And you say Eastern or Western, not East or West. :]
The first BBQ came to the US from Haiti via North Carolina. Barbeque is actually a Carib Indian word for roasted human arm.
And now, you know the rest of the story.
Or, it was dropped overboard by Indians say, 600 years ago while they were out fishing, geeze.
Well, now, I beg to differ.
The pit cooking method was taught to the very earliest English colonists, there are descriptions of pit cooking methods taught by the Croatan and the Powhatan. The sauce is a survival of Elizabethan “catsup” which was a vinegary sauce with herbs and spices. It’s the first authentically American food, being a fusion of English and native. It really should be our Thanksgiving dinner, imho. Far more authentic than that sanitized and romanticized tale of our putative Pilgrim Fathers, those Johnny-Come-Lately communards, lol.
I’ve been a history buff with a nack for odd or forgotten history for years, and one of those odd bits is the origin of southeastern pit-cooked barbecue. I’ve never in my life heard this NC-by-way-of-Haiti cannibal cuisine tale before in my life, and I’ve actually researched it for years.
If you’re pulling our legs, you’re doing a pretty good job of it. If you’re not, please source, starting with the etymology of “barbeque” from Haitian Creole. Bar-beek, like Martinique? I’m just baffled.
The Carribean connection to NC was Barbados and Cuba, not Hispaniola. Pit cooking was widespread before Haitians ever conjured their voodoo demon and slaughtered their overlords in their sleep back in the late 1700’s.
For once, I don’t believe you, lol. That’s a rarity on FR, your threads and replies are usually very enjoyable and enformative.
Knack. I’ll learn to push that little spellcheck button before posting one of these years.
That's fine. I'm not insulted. I read so much that I can't remember where I read that. If I had to guess, it would have been something that Marvin Harris(bless his soul) wrote. Below is something I found on Wikipedia.
The origins of both the activity of barbecue cooking and the word itself are somewhat obscure. Most etymologists believe that barbecue derives ultimately from the word barabicu found in the language of both the Timucua of Florida and the Taíno people of the Caribbean. The word translates as "sacred fire pit." The word describes a grill for cooking meat, consisting of a wooden platform resting on sticks.
Traditional barbacoa involves digging a hole in the ground and placing some meat (usually a whole goat) with a pot underneath it, so that the juices can make a hearty broth. It is then covered with maguey leaves and coal and set alight. The cooking process takes a few hours.
There is ample evidence that both the word and cooking technique migrated out of the Caribbean and into other languages and cultures, with the word (barbacoa) moving from Caribbean dialects into Spanish, then French and English. The Oxford English Dictionary cites the first recorded use of the word in the English language in 1697 by the British buccaneer William Dampier.
While the standard modern English spelling of the word is barbecue, local variations like barbeque and truncations such as bar-b-q or bbq may also be found. In the southeastern United States, the word barbecue is used predominantly as a noun referring to roast pork, while in the southwestern states, cuts of beef are often cooked.
The word barbecue has attracted several inaccurate origins from folk etymology. An often-repeated claim is that the word is derived from the French language. The story goes that French visitors to the Caribbean saw a pig being cooked whole and described the method as barbe à queue, meaning "from beard to tail". The French word for barbecue is also barbecue, and the "beard to tail" explanation is regarded as false by most language experts. The only merit is that it relies on the similar sound of the words, a feature common in folk-etymology explanations. Another claim states that the word BBQ came from the time when roadhouses and beer joints with pool tables advertised "Bar, Beer and Cues". According to this tale, the phrase was shortened over time to BBCue, then BBQ.
The related term buccaneer is derived from the Arawak word buccan, a wooden frame for smoking meat, hence the French word boucane and the name boucanier for hunters who used such frames to smoke meat from feral cattle and pigs on Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic). English colonists anglicised the word boucanier to buccaneer.