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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hatteras Indians: Matrilineal Elks Connection?

Hello, fellow genealogists. As an historian who has spent some time studying Native American culture and is currently involved in a research project on natives of Eastern North Carolina, I feel that I must caution everyone on the Indian use of surnames.

Indians of the colonial period were doing their best to cope with many European ways such as the use of alcohol, land ownership, legal rights, firearms, and just a general view of the world that was very alien to anything that Indians were used to. It is easy to assume that Indians behaved like Europeans, but I think you will find that it took a long time before that happened.

An evolving impression of Native American culture must begin with something very much like this excerpt from an introductory textbook on Anthropology:

"All societies regulate the allocation of land and other valuable resources. In nonindustrial societies, individual ownership of land is rare; generally land is controlled by kinship groups, such as the lineage or band. The band provides flexibility of land use, since the size of a band and its territories can be adjusted according to availability of resources in any particular place (Haviland, Prins, Walrath, and McBride, Essence of Anthropology, 2007, 221)."

Renowned Native American scholars, Theda Purdue and Christopher Arris Oakley have recently revised Purdue’s 1985 edition of Native Carolinians. In the 2010 edition, they propose similar anthropological ideas in the context of Native Americans:

"Europeans who came to North Carolina were part of a culture characterized by Christianity, constitutional monarchy, a commercial economy, patriarchal (or male-dominated) households, and considerable freedom for and emphasis upon the individual… Indians had little notion of monotheism, or belief in one god. Led rather than ruled, they governed themselves through open councils that arrived at decisions by consensus. Their religious and ethical systems condemned acquisitiveness and reinforced a subsistence-level economy in which people produced only enough for survival. Women had considerable power and influence within the family and, among some native peoples, within the tribe as a whole. Finally, while Carolina Indians had considerable personal freedom, the well-being of the community normally took precedence over the desires of the individual (Purdue and Oakley, Native Carolinians, 2010, 16)."

You can see that Indians simply thought differently than the European. Their families were matrilineal, meaning that the "surnames" or family identification would come from the line of your mother, and her mother, and so forth. Whereas, in European culture, it is patrilineal. I am a Brooks because my father was a Brooks. However, Red Eagle was of the Wind clan because his mother was Wind clan. He might have termed himself Red Eagle Wind, but that is a European pattern of name-taking in itself and is not consistent with Indian practice.

Indians took European surnames simply as a natural tendency of Indians to take names identified with powerful figures. In colonial times, to speak of an Indian "surname" as we might use one was simply ludicrous.

History shows us that King Sothel of the Bay/Bear River Indians only took that name because he respected Seth Sothel's authority as governor or "chief" of the Europeans in North Carolina. He probably did not pass this name to his children, but rather they took the family names of their mothers when they reached maturity. That was even different... Indians did not have a given name at birth but assumed one after their rite of passage at puberty.  Imagine that Phil wasn't called "Phil" until after his thirteenth birthday!

Other prominent Indian figures from history did likewise: King Tom Blunt of the Tuscarora took his name most likely from Captain Thomas Blount, a member of the Chowan vestry and assemblyman who had direct dealings with Indians during the killings of certain white men by Bay River Indians at the time of Henderson Walker's term as interim-governor at the turn of the 17th century.

Another such example would be William Elks of Hatteras who most likely took his name from Emanuel Elks or that family who lived in northern Currituck County, NC around that same time period, 1700-1730 or so. Understand that Emanuel Elks was a white man, William Elks was not. The possible wife and daughter of William Elks, Mary & Elizabeth, used the name Elks as well... but the son-in-law, Thomas Elks (who as a Mattamuskeet Indian) took his wife's family name in true native matrilineal fashion - Elks. Capt. Job Carr wrote to Gov. Arthur Dobbs about an Indian Elks claim to land on Cape Hatteras:

"I have made diligent inquiry as to the complaint of Thomas Elks Indian and I find the greatest part to be erroneous…the complaint of sundry persons that came and indeavor to disposess him and the rest of the indians which is a small number for there is but (faded) man beside himself and one small boy ... Thomas Elks [is not] intiteled to the royelty for he is but a son in law to the late King Elks desesed and part of the Maromosceat line of Indians for the true line of the Hatteras Indians are mostly dead. Job Carr"

Thomas Elks and two other Hatteras Indian males had moved onward to the Lake Mattamuskeet area. That they might have used the Elks name once there is problematic because it simply was not their custom. European officials are the only ones who recorded any documents about the Indians and they were biased toward the patrilineal custom, referring to the male Indians only, not the females, and assuming that a male must sign a deed to make it legal when the Indians felt that only women had that authority.

It is possible that some females of the line left Hatteras as well (how would we know?), but the males would not transmit the name most likely. Elks all over the eastern North Carolina area are very likely NOT native... the Pitt County Elks have DNA-tested as European. Most of the rest will as well, I'm sure. I'm not saying that it's impossible, just very unlikely. The truth of the matter is that most of us are mutts of many varieties, with European, Native American, and African blood in the mix. Haplogroups will only show the male descent, however. So, if your father was European and your mother was the Indian, you will have a European haplogroup in your DNA test.

Rest assured, however... we all have a little of everything. But, saying that we descend from any particular Indian is nearly impossible to say definitively.   The Elks of today may have Indian ancestry, but it is a long-shot to believe it came from Hatteras.  A European Elks male would had to have married an Indian Elks female.  Surely not a frequent occurrence.

Yes, I targeted the Elks because of the great fervor in eastern North Carolina today over the "Elks line of Indians." Some unscrupulous individuals out there are using this Hatteras Elks Indian connection to pry money away from people hoping to have a Lost Colony connection through those natives.  It just can't be true, so don't waste your money on these schiesters.  

There are valid DNA studies in the search for the Lost Colony, however.  The one that I currently work with and that I personally vouch for is the Lost Colony Research Group.

I hope Elks families discover some Indian roots, I do. However, there won't be many of you from that line. More likely, you will find some of the clan that King Blunt and King Sothel came from... maybe King Hancock or "John Hoyter King of the Chowan Indyans."

After all, what's in a name?  If you asked a colonial Indian, his response would probably surprise you.

Monday, June 20, 2011

April Archaeology on Hatteras, 2011

Bristol students prepare to dig!
You know... the Lost Colony has generated so much attention lately on the island of Hatteras.  If you go by Paul Green's outdoor drama, though... Hatteras has little to do with it.  But, that was necessary for the state to get the funding to complete Hwy 64 to Roanoke and begin a tourist mecca.  The island of Hatteras is still too far and the Herbert Bonner bridge is still in need of repair.  It doesn't look like the state is ever going to get down that way to discover the truth.  So... that is where organizations like the Lost Colony Research Group come in.  A few years ago, that organization has worked to get archaeology on Hatteras started again since David Phelps conducted his dig in 1997-98.  Local Hatteras residents were not thrilled that Phelps took artifacts with him to Florida when he retired.  They especially weren't thrilled that he died down there after marrying a young woman who cared little for the artifacts.  Consequently, it took some time to get them back... but, rest assured, Dr. Charles Ewen at East Carolina University's archaeology department assures me that they are available for their owners to retrieve at any time.

Still, the Hatteras residents have not much cared for ECU or its archaeologists.  A few individuals with personal motives have thrown fuel on that fire as well.  Consequently, the Lost Colony Research Group realized that, if they wanted to do archaeology on the island, and get permission from its residents, that they would need someone else.  

A member of LCRG and author of a new book, called Grenville and the Lost Colony of Roanoke, used his clout as mayor of Bideford, UK to encourage the University of Bristol to come to our rescue and begin investigations into Hatteras Island.  Following UoB's arrival on Hatteras, another organization was formed to support the archaeological process and to provide for storage and care for these artifacts.  The Croatoan Archaeological Society are presently those caretakers.  They currently hold the artifacts from these recent digs and hope for more.  

So do we.  The digs have involved many wonderfully talented students as well from Bristol, and the fun that we had was captured very well by our own founder and DNA expert, Roberta J. Estes in our recent newsletter

Bobbi's articles are always a pleasure to read and her stories involving British students wearing Outer Banks t-shirts and sporting a "Howdy Ya'll" are heart-warming and, yes, Alex... you had a superb accent!  

Discolorations in the soil reveal the presence of posts that once supported a structure.  This one appeared English.
Indications were that Wattle & Daub construction, an early English technique (and one that we expect to find in the LC colonists), was used on this home.. also, slate was found, possibly used in the roofing which was a popular technique in English construction.  Swithland was the most popular quarry at the time and it may have furnished the roofing material for this home.  One thing certain is that whoever had this slate brought from England, must have had the wealth to transport it.  This home belonged to someone of significance.
Of Course, we'll know more about the findings on this dig when our PhD candidate at UofB, Louisa Pittman finishes her site report.  Unfortunately for some of our Indian enthusiasts, this dig revealed an early 18th century homestead find rather than the expected bonanza of Indian artifacts.  According to preliminary deed studies, this home may have been the home of James Wahab and, possibly Henry Gibbs before 1738.  Gibbs originally received the patent for this property in 1716.  Wahab owned it by that time and purchased another adjoining tract to the west of this one.  

 An interesting fact is that another house appears in deed records just east of the Wahab tract... one that has been very popular in historic memory.  This house involved Valentine Wallis first, perhaps associated with the "workshop" found by Phelps nearby, then by the 1750s, it was the residence of Job Carr, who captained a militia regiment from Hatteras and investigated the Elks-Robb dispute over Indian Town for Gov. Arthur Dobbs in 1756, and finally it was sold to Hezekiah Farrow.  By the time that Farrow had this home, it was designated as the boundary of an administrative district that separated Hatteras from the rest of Currituck County.  I'd love to find that house!

Still, settlement concentrated on the Buxton end of the island during the 18th century.  Some occurred on the other end, but the closest to the seat of government was Buxton.  As is evident, historical analysis is vital to understand what artifacts are found where and why.  

Louisa Pittman, on the phone as usual, and her boss, Mark Horton of the Archaeology Department at the University of Bristol.
 Thanks to everyone that made this dig a success... 

Something that I feel should be said is that digs of this nature may not tell us that the Lost, or "Abandoned" Colonists (as Karen Kupperman called them), were on Hatteras... but, eventually they will.  Meanwhile, we are uncovering a wealth of historical knowledge.  This has enormous import for the island of Hatteras.  One day, we'll find those colonists and, we may be very surprised to find them amongst us today! 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mapping Hatteras: The White Apology

Article reprinted by The Lost Colony Research Group in an effort to stimulate and provide historical context to our archaeological investigations on the Island of Hatteras... 

Much debate has surrounded John White's 16th century maps of the North Carolina coast and the questionable accuracy of Theodore DeBry's engraving of White's watercolor.  Any comparison between White's depictions of the natives of the Carolina coast and DeBry's engravings of those depictions and you can easily question the veracity of the map.  The faces of most of the natives look much more European in DeBry's engravings and several bits of minor details were left out.

That engraved DeBry/White map is important to us as to the accuracy of the locations of the Indian villages indicated on Hatteras Island, or "Croatoan."  The "extra cape" on White's original and on the engraving caused me more than a little concern.  Fear not, however, for White/DeBry's "questionable" detail of the "extra cape," indicated in all these versions for it actually exists... or did exist.  There's proof.  That "extra cape" turns out to be a "false cape" that is still preserved under the surface as the coastal hazard that we now know as "Wimble shoals."

Ever since our project's helpful contribution from Andy Powell, an email about that “false cape” in the area of Rodanthe on the Outer Banks, it has been bugging me about the current water levels as compared with the water levels suspected in 1585 when John White made his map. It had to be much lower in 1585. By how much was the next question. What did the Outer Banks look like at the time that John White watercolored them? Why in the world did he paint such a prominent cape that is not visible today?

Here are the two versions of White’s map, compared in DeBry’s chosen orientation of West on top:

On both maps, “Croatoan” is colored completely red, indicating that the English had spent considerable time there. Note though that on one map the mainland next to Roanoke Island is all red, while the other map has specific towns colored in. There are two dots where “Dasmemonquepeuc” is supposed to be. The supposition is that these two maps might have been done at different stages of the colonization period 1585-1588. For instance, the area of the first “false cape” area (as per Andy Powell) has no red on one map, but some indications of exploration on the other.

The point that I want to make here is that John White, without the benefit of a surveyor’s eye, drew a damned fine map! The extra cape (what I indignantly and once loudly called it) was not a figment of White’s imagination. It’s real. Andy Powell told us where to find it. So, I looked. In 2000, geologists did a survey of the Outer Banks in order to determine sand resources. They mapped the area presently under the sea (see below). On this map, the yellow areas indicate the present Outer Banks but with the water level artificially dropped to five meters, we wind up with a shoreline where the orange/red area is. Go a little further, to about seven meters (specifically for the “false cape” area at the present site of Rodanthe, and you have a shoreline in the area that I have colored purple for illustration purposes. If you go all the way down to 10 meters, you even get the little “claw hook” that White painted and DeBry engraved in the sixteenth century (shown in faint pink below the purple).

Background: Theodore DeBry map engaving of 1590; Inset: Stephen K. Boss and Charles W. Hoffman. “Final Report: Sand Resources of the North Carolina Outer Banks,” Prepared for the Outer Banks Task Force and the North Carolina Department of Transportation, April 2000.

Now, we have to temper this with the fact that this is the famed Outer Banks, site of sand-churning, killer shoals. The sands did not remain consistent over 300 years. Still, the hardened, or partially “cemented” areas of sandstone deep under the banks, are more resistant and are still there for all intents and purposes. So, the basic shape still remains of that “false cape” and we now call that area “Wimble Shoals.” By the way, the inlets that I have placed in there by erasing the landforms I did NOT do so because that’s where White put them but rather because that’s where the geologists indicated in 2000 were areas of possible inlets, or “instability.” Again, confirmation of White’s observations.

What does this have to do with our mapping of Hatteras? I’m glad you asked. John White was fairly accurate. He’s also our eye-witness and his testimony has to be the primary evidence that we use to determine the evolution of Hatteras Island, the past “Croatoan.” This analysis only vindicates John White’s observations and his recording of those observations on his maps. As to Theodore DeBry’s version (as you can see on the map comparison figure), his interpretation of White’s painting was accurate in many details. The locations of the Indian villages are easily identifiable as Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras village at Durant’s point (comparing the exaggerated “bumps” on DeBry’s map). These locations we generally agree are high ground areas where Indians would likely settle (assuming that they didn’t like having their towns flooded on occasion). Indians had centuries of experience with the Outer Banks and would have known about the feasibility of these areas, a subtlety not immediately recognizable to White or DeBry or any other European. So, why did DeBry put the towns where he did? Because that’s where White told him they were! It has to be. These town sites can be roughly defined as “Frisco,” [unnamed], and “Buxton” today.

Archaeology has confirmed the site of Buxton and deed records are confirming the temporally extensive (until 1788) Indian occupation at Frisco. We have yet to examine deed records for the Buxton area to determine who exactly owned the area of that town, but we’ll get there. Progress, folks! Definite progress through archaeology and team work. 


[update:  our study produced records to indicate that the site excavated recently by our colleagues from the University of Bristol in the past two years are probably the original home of James Wahab, possibly the home of Henry Gibbs before him.  This area was definitely on the Wahab   "old tract  " sold to him by Gibbs in 1738.  There's more to come on that study.] 

Let’s all give ourselves, but especially, John White a hand… and, from me, an apology. I was really harsh on the guy. I was saying things like, “was this dude on drugs, or what?” Right now, he’d be giving me “the eye.” What can I say? Academics are typically hot-headed and spoiled, right? That’s my excuse.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Archaeology vs. Treasure Hunting (reprint)

This article is a reprint from: Roberta Estes and I both feel that the more that this destructive act becomes known, the less it will happen.  Pics of "Spongebeard Stinkypants" were added by me.

There's more to real archaeology than hunting for the cool display pieces.  The point is to find the history of the culture that you're researching.  Everything must be studied in context, as Roberta points out.  Furthermore, these artifacts become the property of the property owner on whose land they were found.  Professional archaeologists, for instance would never keep or sell any artifacts - they will study them, catalog them, and then return them to the owner.  I strongly suspect that these treasure hunters have already listed their finds for sale on Ebay or other auction sites.  Treasure hunters are only after a profit. If any artifacts have been kept from your property (especially within the last five years or so), please contact me here or Roberta Estes at the link above.  We will report this to the proper authorities.

Do not let Spongebeard Stinkypants ruin your site!


Archaeology vs Treasure Hunting
by Roberta Estes

From the snaphaunce article, one can easily see how important archaeology and the resulting research it enables is to history - more specifically - to the search for the Lost Colonists.  The smallest piece, unrecognizable to most of us, certainly to an untrained eye, may indeed hold the clue, and the answer we all seek.

Who among us isn't mesmerized by the thought of finding that artifact that will solve the mystery of the Lost Colony?  But like most things in life, there's a right way and a wrong way to go about that elusive search.

I was recently appalled to find the following information (with names blanked out to protect the guilty) on the internet on a site selling metal detectors.  A small group of people accompanyed an individual who claimed to be a "pro", but who is not an archaeologist (nor was the group accompanied by or working with an archaeologist) discovered and removed over 400 artifacts from a location under study as a possible site of the Lost Colonists.

Quoting directly from the website, is their description of what was done:

We...headed to the Outer Banks at daybreak.  We were all a bit surprised when the first signal was received after only a few sweeps.  Digging through the tree roots and vines, I reached the midden layer and from 10" pulled out a large flat button with engraving on the front as well as some gilding remaining dating from the early 1600's! This was the oldest North American metallic artifact I've recovered on land in more than 45 years of detecting and a great omen for the next few days.

Another area
wanted to try the metal detectors out on was a tract that had been examined on previous visits using the Random Shovel Test Pit method.  Laying out a test square, commenced a methodical scan of the area with the new detectors flagging any metallic object located.   After the section was scanned and targets flagged, a survey map was generated showing the location of each target and if the target was shown to be ferrous or non-ferrous by the metal detector.   Due to time and resource limitations, only the indicated non-ferrous items were recovered. Within the test square area, located 41 metallic targets.  All of the artifacts recovered were found at depths ranging from 12 inches to 30 inches.

Did the metal detectors provided help evaluate the Indian village site?  Well, the point that stood out after less than a day of scanning the site was that the Random Shovel Test Pit method which is considered to be standard operating procedure for most archeological surveys had in fact painted a picture totally opposite to what the metal detector survey had revealed. 
summed it up by stating "We located and recovered more artifacts and higher quality artifacts in 3 days with only 4 people than we had using conventional methods in 10 days with 20 people at a cost of $11,000.  More importantly, the metal detectors identified the existence of artifacts in a section of the site that had been deemed barren through past excavations and archeologist assessments!"

After 3 days in the field, more than 400 items were recovered.  All of us that spent time at the Croatan site quickly recognized the value that metal detectors have as a tool to increase the efficiency of data obtained in archeological surveys by locating high-value areas of standard archeological methods might otherwise fail to find.

So what is wrong with what these people did?

Archaeological artifacts aren't just antiques sold to the highest bidder or the prize to the luckiest guy with a metal detector.  The context in which artifacts are found gives them meaning, helps provide an age, and gives them a story.  They can't be reliably analyzed outside of that context.  Furthermore, treasure hunters or those who sell artifacts on the black market routinely engage in this sort of plunder with no consideration for history or the damage they are doing.

Let's look at the button they found, for example.  They state that the button was from the early 1600s.  In the early 1600s, Hatteras island had not been settled by whites.  In fact, it was not even visited, according to the records, until 1664.  So how did a button get to Hatteras Island and in the midden?  And where was it in the midden?  What was located around it would tell us a lot about its age.  Was it a trade item from Jamestown?  Or, given that a professional archaeologist was not involved to date the item, was the date off?  Could the button have been from the time of the colonists? If so, and if it was found in the proper context that would suggest or confirm that the button was intermixed with Native items and perhaps also other nonmetal English items, such as pottery that could also be dated - this button could indeed be, or could have been, the smoking gun to prove the colonists went to Hatteras Island.  Furthermore, it could have identified where they lived, the colonists village site. The treasure hunters presumed it was the Native village site.....but maybe not.  But now, it can never be more than a treasure hunter's bounty for the day - in his or her personal collection.  Bragging rights to sell metal detectors, nothing more.

Without the involvement of a professional archaeologist, meaning an individual with at least a bachelor's degree in archaeology, conducting a properly documented removal of the objects, the artifacts lose their meaning - and their authenticity can never be proven or documented after that.

If the treasure hunting group had been fortunate enough to find that elusive artifact that might prove the survival of the colonists, they probably would not have been experienced enough to realize the discovery they might have made.  In fact, they may have destroyed that critical evidence, proving that the colony survived, far more important than the artifact itself, in their quest for metallic treasure.  Furthermore, anything not metal, and specifically not ferrous metal, was sacrificed and ignored, possibly irresponsibly destroyed in the retrieval of the coveted metal objects.  Cherry picking is treasure hunting and plunder.

Where are these artifacts today?  They certainly aren't being cleaned, evaluated, studied and cataloged in a university or professional setting, available for future researchers and to be made available through academic writing to the public.  They are forever lost to history.  As the treasure hunter said - it's his best find in 45 years of treasure hunting.  Did he find the colonists forever lost to history?  We'll never know.

It a situation such as this where the results are so critical to history, this type of behavior is at least unethical.  For someone who knows better and does this intentionally, it's worse.

The commentary about the previous dig taking 10 days, 20 people and costing $11,000 is referencing a legitimate, professional archaeological dig where Charles Heath served as the professional archaeologist.  Yes, that would be the same Charles Heath that has been involved in the excavation and analysis of the snaphaunce in the previous article and who worked with Dr. Phelps.  And yes, archaeologists do expect to be paid, as do all professionals.

What should have been done with the metal detectors is that the items should have been mapped and flagged, and an archaeological crew brought in to retrieve the items, preserving their history and context.

Louisa Pittman, an archaeologist on our team from the University of Bristol reviewed this article for me, and she reminds me that the use of metal detectors is not inherently bad and they are used in a limited capacity in legitimate archaeological digs.  However, the items are not extracted out of context.  Mostly, metal detectors are used after the dig and before the backfill to be sure nothing was missed.  The difference between using metal detectors responsibly and destructively is how the tool is applied by the people involved.

For more info on the difference between treasure hunting and archaeology, take a look at this article

Are you interested in what has found on Hatteras Island during legitimate archaeological digs?  Great....let's take a look!

Dr. David Phelps Hatteras Island Excavations

In the McArthur collection in the History Center in Manteo, Beatrice McArthur clipped some newspaper articles about Dr. David Phelps archaeology digs which I've partially transcribed here, hoping they might help preserve the history of Hatteras Island.  Unfortunately, Dr. Phelps field reports were never completed before his death, and the information must be gleaned from reports such as this and eyewitnesses who participated in the digs.  Some of the artifacts are currently housed at Eastern Carolina University.

Ms. McArthur did not record the names of the newspapers, so I have not reproduced their stories verbatim.  I have extracted pertinent information from various articles and combined them into a somewhat coherent article.  Most of these articles appear to be from 1997.  This first portion carried a hand written note that said June, 1997.

Dr. David Phelps has spent the past month digging test excavations at a site in Buxton which led to the discovery of what Phelps believes is a workshop that dates between 1650 and 1729.  The crew discovered a littering of lead shot, lead slag and fragments of brass and copper.  Further excavations led to two hearths, mounds of sand which have been discolored and changed in texture due to the repeated heat of intense fires.  It was the red color and density of the sand as well as the abundance of ash content surrounding the mounds which allowed the crew to identify twin hearths.

So far, excavations have turned up a lot of European artifacts; white clay smoking pipes, gun flints, lead shot or various sizes, glass bottles and ceramic fragments.

While none of it confirms the existence of the Lost Colonists, Phelps said, it's helpful in understanding the life of the Croatoans.  "All these things suggest a strong trading relationship with the Europeans".  We're beginning to see what it was like for folks from 1650 to 1715, probably not as good when they owned the whole island."

He called a peach pit discovered a few days ago "a major find".

The peach suggests that the Croatans were trading with other southeastern tribes or with the Spaniards who introduced peaches to the Americas and were growing them on Florida plantations in the 1600s.

One NC historian has suggested that the Spaniards had a trading post on the Roanoke River, Phelps said.  Because no arrowheads have been found it is believed that the musket had replaced the bow and arrow.

The town midden, the area where Croatans threw their trash, overlies evidence of the post molds of Croatan houses.

Phelps and his crew also made a unique discovery of a number of bone rings, made from bird bones and approximately 3/8 of an inch in diameter.  According to Phelps, these rings have not been seen anywhere else in archaeological digs.  The rings could have been used in early trading, but Phelps is unsure about their direct purpose.  He added that bird bones are a common find and decorated bird bones have been found in archaeological excavations along the east coast, but never shaped like a ring.

The Buxton site itself belongs to Ronald Midgett and his wife.  During the past year and a half Phelps and his crews have made 3 test excavations at the site before the 600 square meter major excavation of the workshop area.  The crew initially came upon the workshop after opening an area beside a 24 square meter test pit from last year.  Due to the lack of household debris and the presence of more than one hearth Phelps dismissed the idea of the area once being a house.

According to Phelps, the artifacts found at the site are representative of those that could be found throughout the area of Buxton identified as the historic Croatan.  The artifacts
at the site allow archaeologists to piece together the merging of Europeans into the Indians culture after White's return to England. 
At the site the crew uncovered European, Indian and local-made pipes, copper rings and plates, shell beads, Indian and European ceramics and coins drilled with holes to be worn around the neck.
[A] small undated coin was [found with] holes drilled in each end are among Phelps favorite find from the recent dig.  The coin he said is similar to a 1563 coin found on Roanoke Island about 50 miles to the north.
The team also discovered two fire hearths where Phelps said American Indians and colonists may have manufactured weapons and tools together.  Bill Kelso, who directs Jamestown Discovery, said he is "very excited" about Phelps finds.
"We've unearthed twin hearths and all this debris that has nothing to do with household living, lead droppings from molding bullets, copper and brass pieces and all kinds of clay pipes made from red North Carolina soil as well as white English clay.  We think this was their workshop area" Phelps said of the Croatan site near the Pamlico sound in Buxton.
"There was a tremendous amount of European influence here and a lot of borrowing of European technology for such an early time period.  Our guess is that these artifacts go back to at least the era between 1650 and 1729."
The coin and some pottery pieces are probably even older and could have been brought down the barrier island by the Lost Colonists.
Phelps chose the site initially for its dune cover.  "The dune ridge has always been an ideal location for coastal settlements" Phelps explained, citing Kitty Hawk, Nags Head and Kinnakeet [currently Avon] as examples.  The ridge provides protection from wind and storm surge and is close to the neighboring forest.  Phelps attributes the preservation of the underlying strata of Croatan to the forest area.
The forest has also helped to preserve a lower strata which Phelps dates between 800 AD to 1650.  The strata was uncovered and easily visible in a text excavation at a higher area at the site.  The excavation referred to as "the monster" by the crew was about 12 meters square and 2 meters in depth.  Phelps was able to date the strata by a number of Algonquin pottery pieces originally identified on and named after Colington Island.  The Colington pottery, circa 100 to 1500 AD is unique for its addition of ground oyster shells around it which helped in drying clay pottery and prevent cracking.
Unfortunately despite the recent discoveries the month-long excavation ended Friday and the two test excavations and major excavation were filled in.  Phelps stated that he hopes to reopen the workshop site next year and at the same time open test sites westward.  Excavations are tempered by availability of open land and working around trees.  The upcoming months will be spent in the lab researching and writing about the recent finds. 
Lynne Wyche, Marketing Director for the Lost Colony outdoor drame was a volunteer and participated in the excavation.  She feels that the word Croatan found on the stockade and the tree indicates that at least some of the colonists went to Hatteras.
Not necessarily so said National Park Service historian John Gillikin "We know what the work 'Croatan' meant, but not what the message meant" said John from his office at the Fort Raleigh Historical site.  "It could've meant that's where the colonists went.  Or it could have means as a warning that the Croatan Indians were no longer friendly.  We have no idea what happened to the colonists.  We simply do not have enough evidence to even come up with a theory.  All those artifacts show is that the natives were voracious traders with the Europeans, whether colonists or shipwreck victims or what.  I'm not doubting that site is where some of the Lost Colonists may have gone.  This could be a very important discovery in finally finding what happened to at least some of them.  But I'd need more evidence before I'd say so."
Erosion from Hurricane Emily in 1993 unearthed the first remnants of Croatan Indian civilization along a dirt road in Buxton.  Phelps has worked here the past 3 years.  This month's project included 5 ECU students and a dozen Hatteras island volunteers and was the biggest effort yet.  The dig site extends about a half mile along Buxton's dune ridge.
Phelps said that as many as 5000 Native Americans could have inhabited the southern end of Hatteras Island from AD 1000 to 1700.
"There is no way to say how many colonists may have been here.  Possibly a few single men  were sent down to Hatteras to wait for John White to come back with supplies while the remaining settlers head up the Chesapeak Bay" said Phelps.
Dough [who I believe ran the LC play at the time] says that all the word Croatoan indicates is that "at least one literate colonist went to Hatteras.  They probably didn't leave in a group."
Phelps plans to continue digging on Hatteras for at least 5 years.  He hopes that someone will look for evidence of the colonists in the Jamestown area.  He returned to his Greenville lab this week with thousands of Indian and European artifacts that need to be processed and identified.  "Eventually these things should come back to Hatteras island.  They belong here.  What we're trying to do now is to understand the Croatoan society and how those native Americans related to the original European colonists."
Phelps is also presently working on a underwater study off of Roanoke Island and plans to return in the fall for a workshop to train volunteers and formally present the artifacts found at the Buxton site.

Lost Colony Research Group's Latest Adventures in the Dirt

This past April, the Lost Colony Research Group was involved with the University of Bristol (UK) in an archaeological dig on Hatteras and a general survey of the island for future work.  A lot of really great finds were made and our group's leader, Roberta Estes wrote a damned fine newsletter for May 2011 explaining in her own "front porch" style the entire week and a half.  An 18th century Hatteras dwelling was part of the dig, with wattle and daub construction and a possible slate roofing material, quarried in Swithland in the East Midlands.  This is just a possible origin of the slate roofing found in Hatteras.  A wealthy person indeed would have to have had this dwelling.  One possibility is that this home was the home of James Wahab, an early settler on Hatteras who purchased the land from Henry Gibbs in 1738 before Gibbs relocated to Hyde County across Pamlico Sound from Hatteras.  No doubt Wahab was well off.  Many early settlers made their living from the sea, coupled with the necessary farming needed to provide other necessities.  They found Hatteras useful in many of those pursuits. 

Anyway, Roberta tells this tale very well and you can find her newsletter here: