Saturday, May 17, 2008

New public television series focues on Lost Colony

By Catherine Kozak
The Virginian-Pilot© May 15, 2008

IN THE SUN-DAPPLED WOODS of Fort Raleigh National Historic Site on Wednesday, there was an unusual amount of activity for the sedate park.

Men with big video cameras on their shoulders pointed lenses into dirt pits and at the faces of archaeologists. Nearby, beeping ground-penetrating radar flashed murky images on a small screen.

Meanwhile, a mini-excavator scooped out the top layers of previously explored soil to hasten access to the undisturbed areas that might hold intriguing artifacts.

The first episode of a new public television series, "Time Team America," is focused on the ongoing search for evidence of the Lost Colony on Roanoke Island. After arriving this week, the crew is expected to wrap up at Fort Raleigh by week's end.

As an excavation unearthed a kernel-size piece of lead-glazed earthenware from a layer of dirt, veteran archaeologist Nick Luccketti was summoned and quickly surrounded, a microphone hovering nearby.

"It's great to find it. I was hoping to find something a little more sizable. But it will do," he said into a camera, a wry smile on his face as he held the tiny broken bit.

Luccketti is a founding member of the First Colony Foundation, a nonprofit group that has renewed the archaeological exploration of the park after numerous fruitless investigations since the 1930s.

Another member of the foundation, Eric Deetz, also belongs to the TV production's archaeological team. Deetz had alerted series producer Graham Dixon to the foundation's work.

The colony of 117 men, women and children who had sailed from England in 1587 vanished without a clue sometime after August of that year.

As the oldest abiding American mystery, any artifact
that could help decipher their fate would be akin to the Holy Grail of U.S. archaeology.

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