Colony Research Group
Genealogy ~ DNA ~ Archaeology
Edition March 2012
The Lost Colony Research Group wanted to work with an accredited archaeological laboratory facility here in the States to clean, document and preserve the artifacts, but one of the groups involved on Hatteras Island was insistent that the artifacts remain on Hatteras Island in private hands. Unfortunately, that scenario does not provide the artifacts with any longevity or stability or any avenue for documentation, conservation, preservation or study.
One of the benefits that ECU brings to the table, that we feel is critical, is their archaeology lab. They have the ability and resources to properly clean, stabilize and preserve artifacts while allowing the artifacts' ownership to remain with the property owner where the artifact was found.
The English scabbard found during one of the digs is an excellent example. This piece was actually found under the midden, making is likely the oldest artifact retrieved, and therefore the most important relative to dating the rest of the items found above the scabbard, deposited later. This metal item needs to be properly preserved to prevent further decay. It needs to be made available for future research by residing in at least a semi-public institution and it needs to be analyzed. It has never been properly evaluated, documented or studied. Whatever information it might hold for us is in essence lost forever, as it remains in private hands (although not those of the property owner) on Hatteras Island.
Other examples are the artifacts found by Phelps. Although the ownership remains with the property owners on whose property the items were discovered, the items are protected and housed in an environmentally controlled laboratory at ECU. This allowed Baylus Brooks to perform the further research from which he identified this snaphance as being from the 1584 time period. Without access to the artifact itself, and the resultant collaboration with several experts from institutions in Europe, this additional critical information would never have been forthcoming.
The Lost Colony Research Group feels that it is important to support local community based archaeology, but also important to professionally preserve the items and to assure their availability for future study and research, in addition to making them available for local display. We have been working closely with the Hatteras Island Genealogical and Preservation Society (HIGPS), a Hatteras Island nonprofit group with a range of goals in line with those of the Lost Colony Research Group. This alliance also provides the LCRG with a local venue to house the massive amount of research we have completed as part of our search for the descendants of the colonists, making that research readily available to island residents and descendants.
Dr. Charles Ewen, archaeologist and anthropologist with East Carolina University (ECU) at Greenville, NC, has visited our previous digs and events on several occasions and provided academic support to the University of Bristol during their visits. We feel comfortable working with Charlie and appreciate his professionalism. We know that he, at ECU, has the proper laboratory facilities to process the artifacts, to preserve them, and then will make them available for public viewing as well as future research. Dr. Ewen manages the archaeology lab at ECU.
And let's face it, Greenville's a lot closer than Bristol, making travel and multiple trips much more feasible and significantly less expensive. Our 2012 field season will begin with Dr. Ewen and we welcome him, his colleagues and his students to our new dig sites. We look forward to learning more about the Colonists, the Native people of Hatteras Island and the next piece of the puzzle, wherever it may take us.
In Grateful Appreciation
A project of this magnitude would simply have not been possible without the dedication of many members of our all-volunteer group. I want to take this opportunity to thank our hard workers for their years of dedication and work behind the scenes. The search for the Lost Colony has indeed been our "child" and yes, it has required a village of people donating thousands of hours of their time to "raise" this child, literally, from the dead.
First, I want to thank all of our members and volunteers for their contributions. This collective effort is a combination of individual contributions, which, together form far more than the sum of the parts. In addition, we are grateful to the students from multiple universities who have participated. Yes, they are getting credit for their participation and yes, they are having a good time, but it is a lot of hard work. They have been a great group to work with. At least one thesis will be forthcoming, several papers have already been published, and the digs have been used as the topic for several special projects.
Many people who participated in the archaeology digs, in one form or another, were not students. Thank you to everyone who dug, cooked, sweated, sifted, cleaned and contributed.
I also want to thank the people of Hatteras Island for their warm welcome, generosity and support during our many digs. This year, with our 5th dig, it feels like a homecoming.
I want to say a special thank you to many of our volunteers whose contributions have made a significant impact. Many, but not all, were co-founders of the Lost Colony Research Group. Founders are noted with an asterisk by their name. Everyone except George Ray, without whom none of this would have happened, is listed alphabetically.
*George Ray - Without George and his passion for history, the archaeology projects simply would not have happened. George has supported our projects in many ways, as our primary financial benefactor, providing financial support in the form of airfare, transportation, lodging and food during the digs, as a diligent supporter, but more important, with his constant cheerful presence. George built the "gypsy wagon" which he pulls behind his truck. The gypsy wagon, shown below, allows us to be self-sufficient, storing food and providing an outdoor kitchen that allows us to cook three meals every day for our more than 30 dig participants. And on top of that, George is a wonderful cook, preparing the meals for the crew so that they can focus on digging. When not cooking, George also participated in the digs