Student snapshot

Matt Harrup

Hometown: Brussels, Belgium
Major: Coastal resources management doctoral student
Career Goals: To become an archaeologist

East Carolina University student Matt Harrup wasn’t looking for a tavern. However, when he found one, he dug right in.

In 2018, Harrup was part of a team of ECU archaeology students under Professor Charles Ewen exploring Brunswick Town, an 18th-century town in southeastern North Carolina. Team members used ground penetrating radar in what was believed to be an empty lot, according to a map from 1769, when they discovered the remnants of a tavern no one knew existed.

“Something resembling a large structure showed up on the GPR, and it was much deeper than other structures there,” Harrup said. “We put in a few exploratory units and quickly realized we had something significant.

“It’s what archaeologists hope for. Almost as exciting as the discovery is that it’s completely intact and the amount of data that has been recovered. It’s a true picture of colonial life.”

He credits the entire team for their work on the project, including fellow students Kimberly Byrnes, Brandon Eckert, Adam Pohlman and Mackenzie Mulkey. “Archaeology is a team sport,” he said.

Harrup said the COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted work at the site, but about half of it has been excavated, resulting in the recovery of about 24,000 artifacts.

Already with a master’s in anthropology from ECU, Harrup is seeking his doctoral degree in coastal resources management and plans to become an archeologist. He expects to graduate this summer.

“I don’t think there is a better educational value than ECU,” he said.

Read more about the Brunswick Town tavern in the fall 2019 issue of East.