Archaeologists Find Pieces of Lost Colony Mystery
The mystery of what really happened to The Lost Colony of Roanoke Island is America’s original urban legend and may never be completely solved, but a small piece of the answer was recently uncovered near the site of the play that tells the story of first English colonists to settle on these shores each night during the summer.
Archaeologists have found pottery pieces that could have been part of a jar belonging to a medicine maker of the Roanoke voyages, and even a member of the “Lost Colony”, according to The Virginian-Pilot.
The two quarter-sized fragments, colored blue, white and brown, were buried in the soil two feet below the surface not far from The Lost Colony‘s Waterside Theatre ticket box office at Fort Raleigh. An earthen mound believed to be a fort from the period lies 75 yards from the discovery site.
“It was an exciting find,” said Eric Deetz, an archaeologist with the First Colony Foundation who was part of the dig earlier this month. “That pottery had something to do with the Elizabethan presence on that island.”
The ointment or medicine jar would have been 3 inches tall and 1.5 inches in diameter, Deetz said. He called it the most significant piece of pottery found in the area since the 1940s.
The pieces found are part of a jar that might have been used by Harriot or members of the lost colony to mix salves and medicines, Deetz said. Sassafras, a plant plentiful on Roanoke Island, was thought at the time to be a cure for many ailments, including syphilis.
In the latest find, archaeologists from the Southeast Archeology Center, which is sponsored by an arm of the National Park Service, dug near a shoreline that has eroded about a foot a year in the past decade.
You can see the legend of The Lost Colony reenacted every night during the summer live on stage at the historic Fort Raleigh on Ronoake Island in the country’s longest running outdoor symphonic drama. (Click here for details on the play.)
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