HE PUBLIC ARCHAEOLOGY CORPS (PAC)
studies the unwritten historic record that lies
buried beneath the ground, specifically on
building and home sites that might be covered
forever by development.
“We formed to protect and address the
problem of archaeological site loss on privately owned land,”
Schleier says. “We have a long and varied history in this area
and not much work has been done.”
Schleier is happy to give an impromptu history lesson to
anyone who wanders by a site — and even put them to work.
It’s all part of his plan to make the public aware of the archae-ology
“The general public, they know that archaeology is
around but may not be aware that it happens here,” Schleier
says. “We’re trying a hearts-and-mind approach of public
Most of the work is done by local archaeologists, his-torians,
University of North Carolina Wilmington stu-dents,
and volunteers with at least some experience.
Carolyn Gimbal, former Appalachian State student
and archaeologist, first volunteered at the organization’s
most recent dig at the historic Pythian Building at 208
She was a volunteer assistant for UNCW’s archaeological
field school at Brunswick River Park in Belville when a few
students told her they were going to volunteer with PAC over
the weekend. Gimbal tagged along and continued to help
“I recommend PAC frequently to non-archaeologists,
because it’s a free local resource to learn more about
Wilmington’s history in an active way,” she says.
The downtown dig was a great opportunity to tell ques-tioning
passersby about the project and organization, and
an even bigger bonus for those who accepted an impromptu
invitation to join in the fun.
It is rare, Gimbal notes, for volunteers, including her, to
participate in such a hands-on experience. It’s even more rare
to include inexperienced community volunteers on serious
“It’s a popular debate in the field, how to involve commu-nity
stakeholders in archaeology without putting significant
cultural resources at risk from mishandling/looting,” she says.
“I think PAC addresses this issue by involving non-archaeol-ogists
in a controlled environment, using the same methods
you’ll learn as an archaeology student at a university.”
The Princess Street dig, at what Schleier believes to be part
of a blacksmith shop, was the first stage of the process. Since
it ended, Schleier has been sifting through the findings, hop-ing
to catch something telling of the city’s history.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF PAC
WBM november 2017