Thursday, May 22, 2008

New Dig on Roanoke Reveals Artifacts Previously Not Seen

Search ongoing for Lost Colony site


Director of Native American Studies Program at University of Oklahoma, Joe Watkins, Ph.D., screens dirt for potential clues leading the the disappearance of America's early settlers. With his experienced eye he carefully examines for any sign of native American or European lifestyle.

Archaeological teams are geared up to answer the on-going mystery of Fort Raleigh's early settlers.Last week, First Colony Foundation (FCF) teamed up with scholars and the premier production of Time Team America to excavate grounds in hopes of finding artifacts that would answer any of the numerous questions surrounding the mystery. Fort Raleigh is the first of five sites for Time Team America's series and the team only had three days to complete the excavation. Thus, they worked from sun-up to sun-down, ensuring not a minute was wasted.

The team consists of archaeologists, geophysicists, sketch artists, and graphic artists along with the several in the production field. Lead digger Chelsea Rose explained the teams are "looking for artifacts or evidence of features of buildings" including post-holes relative to structures.To ensure no artifacts are being destroyed or overlooked, the diggers take extra care when sifting the soil. The first few layers, according to Rose, are from blown sand that came in as part of a dune, making it easy for the team to sift through. "We've got to get to the darker layers underneath if we're going to find anything," she noted.

After the soil has been removed, the team carefully sifts through each layer with screens. Ian MacDonald, with FCF, explained the soil goes through a large screen, then a smaller window screen, to guarantee no small pieces have been ignored. "We go as quickly as reasonable," noted MacDonald, "being very thorough in the process."If the team discovers an artifact, FCF Co-Director Nick Luccketti and archaeologist Eric Klingelhofer of FCF will analyze the findings to determine its authenticity.On the second day, the team found a very small piece of what is believed to be Native American pottery. "If you look real closely you can see pieces of shell, and you learn to recognize immediately," said Joe Watkins, Ph.D., Native American Archaeologist and a member of the Time Team. "I have a point of view different that others, I use the point of view of Native Americans."

As of press time, the teams had discovered several artifacts "both prehistoric and historic," said Klingelhofer. Along with the pottery found on their second day, two small sherds of English essex black ware was found on their third day. The black-ware is believed to have been used for cups and plates. According to Luccketti, the essex black-ware is unlike any artifact from previous excavations and seem to be connected with domestic use.

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