Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A high-tech search for the 'Lost Colony'

From The Virginian-Pilot (via the Greensboro News & Record):

"... In the quest for the Lost Colony, the vanished 1587 English settlement on Roanoke Island, archaeologists have conducted numerous explorations in Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, digging and surveying and scanning and scoping.

"But they've never used high-tech radar tomography that can produce 3-D images out of data collected from 6 feet, more or less, under ground.

"The refined technology, which can also use sound and light waves, gained early fame when inventor Alan Witten used it to help locate fossils from a 120-foot-long dinosaur — called 'seismosaurus' — in the late 1980s in New Mexico. The find was fictionalized in Michael Crichton's 'Jurassic Park.'

" 'This is fantastic, cutting-edge technology,' said Eric Klingelhofer, vice president of the First Colony Foundation, in a telephone interview. 'I am eager to see the findings and then compare them with what we know of the archaeology of the site.' ..."

As am I. Any North Carolinian educated in its public schools knows the story of the "Lost Colony." The N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh recently completed an incredible look at the story, mostly from the point of view of John White's magnificent water colors.

Just what happened to the colony will probably never be decided, no matter what kind of technology we now have. But it is quite a mystery. Were the colonists just simply killed? Did they assimilate into Native American culture (and become the Lumbees or perhaps the inhabitants of Crusoe Island?) One legend has it that Virginia Dare, the first European child born in the New World and the namesake of this group, became a white deer.

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