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October 3, 2005

Alcoa Donates Artifacts, Outreach Grant to UNC-Chapel Hill; School Children and Scholars Will Learn about North Carolina's Earliest Inhabitants Through Alcoa Gifts

BADIN, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 3, 2005--School children, scholars and the public will learn more about North Carolina's earliest inhabitants, thanks to two gifts from Alcoa Inc. and the company's nonprofit foundation to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Alcoa Inc. is donating more than 1.3 million artifacts to UNC's Research Laboratories of Archaeology from the 10,000-year-old Hardaway archaeological site near Badin in Stanly County.

The Alcoa Foundation is awarding UNC a $220,000 grant for outreach programs to educate school children and the public about the artifacts and the site, a National Historic Landmark. The company announced the two gifts, valued at around $353,000, today (Oct. 3) at the Hardaway site.

This is the second gift of Hardaway artifacts to UNC by Alcoa, completing an initial donation of about 200,000 artifacts in 1998. The entire collection contains about 1.5 million artifacts, mostly stone tools that were used by ancient peoples who lived at the site.

The total value of the entire Hardaway collection and the new outreach grant is $769,000.

The Hardaway site, located on the Yadkin River, is the oldest excavated settlement in North Carolina and one of the oldest and most significant archaeological sites in North America, dating to before 8,000 B.C. The site is owned by Alcoa, which operates four hydroelectric stations, dams and reservoirs along a 38-mile stretch of the Yadkin River.

"The Hardaway artifacts tell an important story about the earliest inhabitants of North Carolina, and we believe they should be kept in the state permanently," said Geoff Cromer, president of U.S. Primary Metals, Alcoa. "Through continued research and public outreach, UNC can help us better understand the history of the state and its first people."

The outreach grant will allow for creation of a variety of inter-related programs, such as an "Archaeology Days" event, an exhibit on North Carolina's first people at local museums across the state, a public television program and teacher education materials. Part of the grant will be used to help renovate a 3,200-square-foot storage space in UNC's Hamilton Hall, making a new, permanent home for the artifacts. Under an agreement with Alcoa, UNC archaeologists unearthed the Hardaway artifacts during two separate periods of fieldwork, with the first excavations taking place in 1948.

Dr. Vin Steponaitis, an anthropology professor and director of the archaeology research labs, part of UNC's College of Arts and Sciences, said Alcoa's gift makes the Hardaway artifacts permanently available to future scholars and students at Carolina, to North Carolina's school children and to the public.

"The collection is an important part of North Carolina's heritage that we have had the privilege of caring for at UNC," Steponaitis said. "Alcoa's gift transcends a dollar amount. We are grateful for the completion of this gift, because the artifacts offer a lot of information from which we can keep learning about North Carolina's earliest people. We've only scratched the surface in terms of studying the collection."

The artifacts are part of the university's seven-million-piece North Carolina Archaeological Collection, one of the finest collections of Southeastern archaeological materials.

Examples of the proposed programs funded by the outreach grant include:

-- a major public event, "Archaeology Days," at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, which would showcase the Hardaway collection;

-- an exhibit on "North Carolina's First People," which would debut at UNC's Morehead Planetarium and Science Center and could travel to other museums in the state;

-- a public television episode on archaeology which would prominently feature Hardaway in the series, "Exploring North Carolina," which airs on UNC-TV;

-- development of teaching kits and posters that could be coordinated with lesson plans on Hardaway. The staff of UNC's Ackland Art Museum would assist in kit development and poster design; and

-- development of an online teacher workshop and digital resource library about Hardaway through LEARN North Carolina, a public service of UNC's School of Education.

"If you ask most people on the street when North Carolina history begins, they think of the Lost Colony and Roanoke. Our goal is to raise awareness of the fact that people have been living here for 10,000 years," Steponaitis said. "This is something all citizens of North Carolina need to know."

The Alcoa gifts count toward the university's Carolina First Campaign goal of $2 billion. Carolina First is a comprehensive, multi-year, private fund-raising campaign to support Carolina's vision of becoming the nation's leading public university.