Thursday, October 13, 2005


First Colony Foundation dives into search for lost Roanoke settlement


Outer Banks Sentinel
October 11, 2005

The First Colony Foundation's first phase of field research for the settlement site of Sir Walter Raleigh's Roanoke colonies of the 1580's, including the mysterious "Lost Colony," began on October 3 and will continue through October 15, 2005.

Dr. Gordon Watts, a retired professor from East Carolina University, director of the International Institute for Maritime Research (IIMR), and First Colony Foundation board member, is directing and adding an underwater dimension to the search for the first time.

Watts and volunteers from IIMR in Washington, are investigating numerous magnetic anomalies identified in remote sensing surveys in 2002. These anomalies lie in two areas off the north end of Roanoke Island and they could have potential association with the Raleigh colony site. Watts research is being funded by the First Colony Foundation, a North Carolina based non-profit group focused on research relating to the Raleigh colonies.

Historical research indicates that the north end of Roanoke Island has eroded extensively since the sixteenth century, and it is possible that surviving remains now lie beneath the shallow waters of Roanoke Sound. Watts hopes that improved remote sensing and electronic positioning capabilities today can identify very subtle features and small artifacts associated with the settlement.

Priority targets identified as having the most potential to be associated with sixteenth activity are receiving further examination. Once they are relocated using a cesium vapor magnetometer, these priority target anomalies are being investigated by a team of SCUBA and surface air supply equipped archaeologists. Their objective is to identify and assess the significance of cultural material generating the anomaly signatures.

Where search of the sound bottom surface fails to identify the material generating the anomaly signature, Watts is using an underwater magnetometer to pinpoint the signature so that an examination below the sound floor can follow. Some targets may then be subject to induction dredge excavation.

Watts will confer with First Colony Foundation archaeologists and board members Dr. Eric Klingelhofer and Nick Luccketti to coordinate his underwater prong of the Foundation's research with their planning for future land based archaeology.


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