Archeological Headlines of April 2009

Looters, old historic canoes, and the search for the Lost Colony are just some of the subjects of early headlines dominating the news of the archeological world for April of 2009.

Looters Zero In on Iraqi Archeological Sites

What happens when a lake, such as Haditha Lake in the western part of the Iraqi province of Anbar, starts to dry up? Ancient burial sites and other features of the past start to emerge, tempting the twinkling eyes of looters who see nothing but dollar signs. Archeologists in Iraq fear that thieves will turn their attentions to the shrinking lake in an effort to cash in on valuable cultural history.

The proof is in the pudding, as opened graves and destroyed grave objects have been detected. Bones were even scattered in some of the nearly sites. While the recent activity of the water has something to do with the current situation, looters have no doubt played a role. Graves have been found opened with destroyed grave objects found nearby. Bones lie scattered along the vicinity. Decorated the banks of the lake, broken ancient jars have been found. It is not uncommon to see people digging up the pot in search of gold.

Overall, the site on banks of Haditha Lake is amazing, as rock staircases and domed ceilings of former building have emerged from a muddy grave, covered in shells left behind by the lake water.

Where is the “Lost Colony?”

Archeologists are seeking evidence that shed light on the mystery of the “Lost Colony” , possibly the first permanent English settlement on Roanoke Island. A dig headed by the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site has revealed a collection of bone bits, fish scales, ceramics, metal buckles, and buttons. Nick Luccketti, a founding member of the nonprofit First Colony Foundation works as a principal archaeologist for the James River Institute for Archaeology in Williamsburg. He estimates that the objects unearthed from a November excavation could date between 1680 and 1750.

There is no question that the site belongs to the Colonial Period, but researchers are interested in identifying its connection to historic events. Additional copper and the beads found about the site may shed light on who the settlers living in the region had contact with. To this point, it hasn’t been documented whether or not the Native Americans had contact with the Europeans before the Lost Colonists.

Unique Artifact Rescued from Alligator Park

What is so special about a canoe found in an alligator park in St. Augustine, Florida? Scientists from the Lighthouse Archeology Maritime Program are pleased with the find, as they exclaim it is most likely the last of its kind. Research reveals a unique local design pertaining to the St. Augustine region.

Measuring 20 feet long, the cypress dugout canoe (most often referred to as a ‘log boat’) serves as a decoration for an alligator lagoon associated with the St. Augustine Alligator Farm & Zoological Park. Thanks to an archeologist working with a center for St. Johns County’s historic resources, it has been uncovered that the boat is actually more than 100 years old.

John D. Brueggen, The director of the Alligator Farm graciously offered the boat at no cost to the Lighthouse Archeology Maritime Program (also known as LAMP) in exchange for a replacement. As for the future of the canoe, scientists will document its dimensions, clean it up, conserve it, and put it on display.