The Old Salem’s Archaeology practice, Under the Direction of the Research, Curatorial, and Archaeology Division, is a projects-based effort that conducts an active program of research and exploration into the material and cultural evidence of the Moravian experience in North Carolina. As of January 2018 and under the direction of Martha Hartley, Director of Research & Outreach, the HIDDEN TOWN Project is working in collaboration with our archaeology efforts to locate (through document research) sites, with the goal to initiate archaeological work on sites with high probability  or containing debris from dwelling places of the enslaved population who lived in Salem.

There are several elements to the 2018 work:

  1. Old Salem is facilitating primary, lot-by-lot research to better and more accurately site dwellings for the enslaved throughout the town of Salem.
  2. A partnership with the North Carolina State University Department of Marine, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences in which Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) will be used to help Old Salem locate high probability  “Hidden Town” sites.  Following the actual digital data collection, The researchers will process the data back in the lab and generate a research paper, along with possible images and visualizations.
  3. A partnership with Middle Tennesee University in producing a digital fly-over projection of an area of the town of Salem (based upon the c. 1860 census) showing all buildings, including the results of our “Hidden Town” studies and GPR data, locating detached dwellings for the enslaved.
  4. As part of a partnership with the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, the NCDHC has agreed to accept Old Salem’s archaeology reports into their digitization program. The reports will be made available through the Old Salem website.
  5. Production of a 5-year strategic plan which will guide Old Salem’s efforts in making archaeology more fully a public experience.

Phase I Hidden Town mapping research showing different periods of habitation in Salem. The red-filled plots are sites with a high probability of containing archaeological artifacts which can inform our goal to locate and investigate the sites of dwelling places used by the enslaved in the town of Salem.


Research conducted by the Department of Archaeology focuses on the archaeological resource within Salem, the relationship of this central town to the broader tract of Wachovia, and the Moravian population of Salem and Wachovia through time. The Archaeology Department carries out careful study of the historic resource, site evaluation, preparation of research designs, and excavation. Reports produced in this work include cultural information gained through study and excavation, and through processing and analysis of recovered artifacts in the Archaeology Department’s laboratory. Reports and articles prepared by the Old Salem Museums & Gardens Department of Archaeology, as well as presentations to professionals and the broader public, increase awareness and understanding of the significance of Old Salem and Wachovia.