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Pieces of 16th-century pottery discovered on Roanoke Island could be linked to the Lost Colony

Posted at 2:15 PM, Jun 21, 2016

DARE COUNTY, N.C. - Archaeologists working on Roanoke Island have discovered shards of 16th century pottery that are believed to be linked to the Raleigh Colonies.

The latest find came as archaeologists from the Southeast Archaeology Center, which is part of the National Park Service, and the First Colony Foundation, were conducting excavations in two areas of the park that have been threatened by erosion.

"It's very exciting to see these cultural objects come out of the ground and every object does tell a story," Jami Lanier, Cultural Resources Manger for The Outer Banks Group, told News 3's Todd Corillo Tuesday.

Courtesy: National Park Service

Courtesy: National Park Service

The fragments are blue, white and brown in color and are believed to have been parts of an ointment or medicine jar.

"I think it's another piece of the puzzle that you can connect to the Raleigh colonies," Lanier commented, saying the find represents the most significant ceramics find in the park since the 1940s when similar shards were discovered.

English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh sent several groups to the North Carolina Coast in the 1580s.

It's unclear at this point which Raleigh colony may have owned the medicine jar that archaeologists found in June.

A 1585 mission that only lasted 11 months was made up of only men.

The group that landed in 1587 included both men and women and saw the birth of Virginia Dare, known as the first English child born in the New World.

That group seemingly vanished.

"We don't know what happened to the colonists after their Governor left to return to England to secure supplies for them," Lanier commented. "It is probably America's greatest unsolved mystery, there are a lot of theories about what could have happened to the colonists."

The discovery of artifacts such as the medicine jar shards though do help in piecing together what may have happened.

"What's there and what these objects can tell us. That's the most important value is the stories they can tell and they are pieces of the puzzle that can perhaps help solve the mystery," Lanier stated.

While the National Park Service hopes to conduct more digs in the future, they do remind the public that work requires special permits and permissions.