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The Lost Colony of Roanoke Wasn't Lost; It Assimilated into the Native American Population

In 1587, England planted a colony of 117 people on Roanoke Island in North Carolina. Three years later, when an English vessel checked in on the colony, the entire population had vanished and the settlement lay in ruins. The only clue left behind was the word "CROATOAN" carved into a wooden palisade.

What happened to the colony? One of the earliest hypotheses was that it had moved into and joined a Native American community.

After eleven years of research, a team of archaeologists (both amateur and professional) has concluded that this hypothesis is probably correct. They found evidence of a mixed community of Europeans and Native Americans on Hatteras Island. The Virginian-Pilot reports:

Teams have found thousands of artifacts 4-6 feet below the surface that show a mix of English and Indian life. Parts of swords and guns are in the same layer of soil as Indian pottery and arrowheads.
The evidence shows the colony left Roanoke Island with the friendly Croatoans to settle on Hatteras Island. They thrived, ate well, had mixed families and endured for generations. More than a century later, explorer John Lawson found natives with blue eyes who recounted they had ancestors who could “speak out of a book,” Lawson wrote.
The two cultures adapted English earrings into fishhooks and gun barrels into sharp-ended tubes to tap tar from trees.

-via Marginal Revolution | Photo: PunkToad


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Speculation about the colonists having moved in with the Croatoans was going on pretty much from the moment the tree inscription was discovered. There were several search expeditions, but they seem to have been thwarted by distractions and hostile tribes. My suspicion is that either the colonists were "assimilated" hostilely in the first place, or they were wiped out by inter-tribal warfare in the following decades, as certain contemporary tribal accounts imply.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
"And there was no sign of the lost colony except for a mysterious word carved in wood: 'Croatoan'."
"Uh huh..."
"What could it mean? Was it an explanation? A warning? An incantation? Nobody knows!"
"It was the name of the nearest Indian tribe."
"NOBODY KNOWS!"
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