Fort Raleigh National Historic Site in North Carolina preserves the remains of Roanoke, the first English settlement in North America. Settled in 1587, the colonists all disappeared before the next supply ship arrived in 1590 and their fate remains a mystery to this day. The island was occupied in 1862 by the Union army and a self-sustaining freedmen’s colony for slave refugees was set up. By 1864 the population grew to 2,200 residents. Today, park visitors can watch Paul Green’s outdoor symphonic drama The Lost Colony.
Archaeological Fun Fact: Roanoke Island was featured on the first episode of Time Team America, a PBS show that featured archaeologists given three days to make sense of an archaeological site. View the episode here.
Park website: www.nps.gov/fora/
Located in central Ohio, Hopewell Culture National Historical Park encompasses six different sites of earthworks and burial mounds that represent the so-called Hopewell people who inhabited the area in the 3rd century BC through approximately 500 AD. Typical Hopewell constructions consist of large enclosures that can have walls up to 12 feet high and contain packed earth in geometric shapes, while mounds can rise to more than 30 feet in height and have been found to contain cremated human remains and skillfully fashioned objects—including effigy pipes, mirrors, tools, and jewelry—of ceramic, shell, flint, mica, and copper: a testament to the sophistication of far-flung trade routes and artistic craftsmanship among indigenous groups in this period.
Archaeological Fun Fact: Early documentation of the Hopewell sites and excavation was undertaken by a local Ohio doctor named Edwin Hamilton Davis and his partner, Ephraim George Squier. The two published the seminal Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley in 1848 but had a falling out at around that time that ended their working partnership.
Park website: www.nps.gov/hocu/