Archaeological News

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GREENVILLE, S.C. —Archaeologists have uncovered what they believe to be a Cherokee Indian burial site, dating back hundreds of years.

The discovery was made in Macon County, North Carolina, at the site of a new recreation park.

Now community leaders are trying to decide how to move forward.

The $2.5 million park project in Franklin has been in the works for more than a year, but plans could be changing.

“We knew the likelihood was high there would be archaeological evidence here. We did not necessarily know there was going to be human remains,” said historic preservationist Tyler Howe. Read more.


It’s a mystery that has intrigued Americans for centuries: What happened to the lost colonists of North Carolina’s Roanoke Island? 

The settlers, who arrived in 1587, disappeared in 1590, leaving behind only two clues: the words “Croatoan” carved into a fort’s gatepost and “Cro” etched into a tree.

Theories about the disappearance have ranged from an annihilating disease to a violent rampage by local Native American tribes. Previous digs have turned up some information and artifacts from the original colonists but very little about what happened to them.

Until now. Read more.

ASHEVILLE — Clues to ages gone by are scattered in forested coves across Western North Carolina.

Often they are stone tools, shards of pottery and other remnants of the lives of Native Americans buried in spots where they gathered.

Some thousands of years old, the items are important to archaeologists who work to piece together the region’s history.

“They tell us about who used to live here and how they lived,” said Rodney Snedeker, forest archaeologist and tribal liaison with the National Forests in North Carolina. “That tells us about human behavior. They also contain a lot of data about environmental changes over time.” Read more.

More cannons and other artifacts will be raised over the next few weeks from their underwater grave off the coast of Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina, the site where the infamous 18th century pirate Blackbeard ran his flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge,aground over an ocean bar soon after departing from his attack on Charleston, South Carolina in May of 1718.

A dive team of 20 researchers, including staff from the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, the North Carolina Maritime Museum, and interns from East Carolina University in Greenville, is now underway, hoping to recover a total of eight cannons and other artifacts by June 20. Later this summer, the team will also recover artifacts from the forward section of the ship and assess the site for a potential full recovery in 2014. Read more.

BEAUFORT, N.C. — A formal ceremony is marking the end of an eight-week expedition to recover artifacts from the ship believed to have belonged to Blackbeard.

The ceremony was scheduled for Friday in Beaufort.

The event highlights the conclusion of the expedition by archaeologists to recover artifacts from Queen Anne’s Revenge. Since 1997, several of the cannons and more than 250,000 artifacts have been retrieved including gold, platters, glass, beads, rope, the anchor and several ballast stones.

In 1717, Blackbeard captured a French slave ship and renamed it Queen Anne’s Revenge. Blackbeard settled in Bath and received a governor’s pardon. Volunteers with the Royal Navy killed him in Ocracoke Inlet in November 1718, five months after the ship thought to be Queen Anne’s Revenge sank. (source)

CHAPEL HILL — Perhaps the best clue in more than 420 years to North Carolina’s most famous mystery has just been revealed.

The remains of the Lost Colony, it turns out, could sit under an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course in Bertie County.

Researchers at the British Museum in London, acting at the request of a group of historians and archaeologists here, have found a symbol hidden on an ancient map that could show where members of the English colony established on Roanoke Island in 1587 moved.

Representatives of the First Colony Foundation and scholars at the British Museum – who appeared via video webcast – announced the discovery Thursday morning in a news conference at UNC Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library.

The elaborate “Virginea Pars” map was created by members of Sir Walter Raleigh’s Roanoke Colony expeditions of 1584-1590, the first attempt to establish an English Colony in the New World.

The map, which is unusually accurate for its time, shows the coastal area from the Chesapeake Bay to Cape Lookout, and pinpoints the locations of several native American villages.

Brent Lane, an adjunct professor of Heritage Education at the UNC Kenan Institute and a scholar with the First Colony Foundation, was studying a map made by the leader of the 1587 colony expedition, John White, when he became intrigued with two patches of paper pasted over small parts of it. Read more.

A newly restored cannon recovered from the 1718 shipwreck of Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge (QAR),will be on display for the public in late February at the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort.  

Other artifacts will include a pewter decorated wooden knife handle, cannon wadding, and a hand grenade.

Blackbeard, otherwise known as Edward Thatcher (or “Teach” in some circles), was perhaps the most notorious pirate along the eastern seaboard of North America during the heyday of ocean-going piracy between the late 17th and first quarter of the 18th centuries. In June of 1718 his fleet attempted to enter Old Topsail Inlet, NC, now known as Beaufort Inlet.  His flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge and the Adventure ran aground at the Inlet and was subsequently abandoned by Blackbeard and many of his crew, fleeing to the north. He and some of his fellow crew members were eventually killed by an expedition of the Royal Navy the following November. Read more.

A 2,000-pound cannon hauled up from the wreck of Blackbeard’s flagship off the North Carolina coast last week has stirred more interest in the infamous 18th-century pirate and brought more visitors to Beaufort, a small seaport near the site of the wreck. And since state funding for the work on the Queen Anne’s Revenge has all but dried up, archaeologists may have to rely on that public interest to resume work at the shipwreck next spring.

North Carolina State Archaeologist Steve Claggett said funding for next season’s work is uncertain. “We’ll do our darndest to find money and keep working,” Claggett said. “I’ll be optimistic and say there’s a small chance we won’t go back.”

It takes about $150,000 per season to fund the work at the Queen Anne’s Revenge. Archaeologists work at the site when conditions are most favorable in late May and June and in September and October. Read more.