Trowel Blazers: Women of the OSA featuring Kim Kenyon

Friday, July 19, 2019
Trowel Blazers: Women of the OSA

In honor of the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in 2020, we are celebrating the talented women who work for the NC Office of State Archaeology with our "Trowel Blazers" series. This week we're honoring Kimberly Kenyon, conservator at the Queen Anne’s Revenge Conservation Lab!

Kim started with the OSA in May 2013, but has been doing underwater archaeology and conservation for 13 years, working on many different projects in Texas, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and Turkey! She earned her degrees from Texas A&M University, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Maritime Studies, with minors in Anthropology and English, and a Master of Arts in Anthropology with a focus in Nautical Archaeology and a certificate in Archaeological Conservation.

How did you become interested in archaeology?

I have been interested in archaeology for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I must have read every book on Ancient Egypt our small-town library held. When I was in junior high, I was watching a special on the Discovery Channel about archaeologists exploring for the first time the sunken city of Alexandria, Egypt, where the famous lighthouse and library from antiquity once stood. I was absolutely captivated watching divers maneuver through these ancient submerged blocks and decided right then what my future career would be.

What is your favorite project or archaeology memory?

To this day, my favorite project to be involved in was the Kizilburun Column Wreck excavation near Cesme, Turkey. The shipwreck was that of a late Hellenistic marble carrier which sank in the early 1st century BC at an extremely remote point on the western Turkish coast. Even today, the location is difficult to reach, with no infrastructure. We built what looked like a settlement camp on the cliffs and had to transport everything required to survive by boat from the nearest village, about an hour away. The wreck lay at a depth of 150 feet and required extreme diligence from the divers in adhering to safety regulations. Kizilburun was my first underwater project, and by far the most memorable. In our isolation, we built such camaraderie as a team. I’ll never forget the sound of the waves hitting the rocks, the sight of the full moon rising over the island of Samos, the sudden jolt of frigid water when you hit the thermocline at 100 feet, the blistering heat wave of 2007. I even became fluent in the Turkish language, though it’s become rusty with time – there isn’t much of a chance to speak Turkish in Eastern North Carolina. The years I spent there will always be some of my fondest memories.

What other hobbies do you have?

Greenwreath HouseMy biggest hobby is my home. When my husband and I moved to Greenville in 2013, we bought a pretty disheveled old house in a rural part of Pitt County. Over the last 6 years, we have been slowly bringing it back to life. I like to joke that my life is all preservation, all the time, whether or not it’s focusing on 18th century archaeology or 18th century architecture. Our house, Greenwreath, has the distinction of being the oldest in the county and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its distinguished architectural features as well as for the prominent Foreman family who owned it from 1780 to 1919.

Cat or dog?

Cat AND Dog. My family always had at least one of each. We have filled our house now with 3 rescue dogs (Lola, Lucy, and Dug) and 2 rescue cats (Charcoal and Gizmo), so I couldn’t possibly choose.


About the Campaign
The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. As part of a national campaign to commemorate this historic event, North Carolina’s Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) is coordinating a campaign titled “She Changed the World: NC Women Breaking Barriers” March 2019, continuing through November 2020. American women were granted the right to vote with the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified on August 18, 1920, after a 72-year fight by suffragists. The 19th Amendment did not resolve the issue of suffrage for women of color, who continued to battle for voting rights for decades. 

Image credits:
-Conserving a cannon from the Queen Anne's Revenge shipwreck, image by NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
-Ready to explore a shipwreck, image by NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
-The historic house Greenwreath, image courtesy of Kim Kenyon