Excavating Fort Raleigh
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Dig into a first-hand account of excavations at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.
A small earthen fort on Roanoke Island, traditionally known as Old Fort Raleigh, was the site of the first English colony in the Americas. Previous archaeological discoveries at the site left many questions unanswered by the 1990s. Where was the main fort and town founded by Raleigh's lieutenant, Ralph Lane, the first governor? Was the small log structure outside the fort really a defensive outwork? And why did the colonists go to the effort of making bricks from the local clay? These are the questions that scholars hoped to answer in an extensive, professional dig funded by National Geographic from 1991 to 1993. This skilled team of excavators-with a little luck-revealed America's first scientific laboratory, where the Elizabethan scientist Thomas Harriot analyzed North American natural resources and Joachim Gans assayed ores for valuable metals.
Famed archaeologist of Colonial America Ivor Noël Hume describes the labor-intensive process of discoveries at Fort Raleigh.