The 'lost' pottery: Unearthed shards of medicine pot belonged to early Roanoke colonists

Pottery shards discovered on Roanoke Island (Photo via National Park Service)

Two quarter-sized pottery fragments unearthed on Roanoke Island in May may look like trash to most of us, but the discovery sent ripples of excitement through the archaeologists and historians searching for the fate of the "Lost Colony."

The blue, white and brown pottery pieces are believed to be fragments of a small apothecary jar made in Europe in the 1500s. Historians say the jar belonged to a member of one of island's early English settlers -- maybe even a member of the fabled Lost Colony.

"It was an exciting find," First Colony Foundation archaeologist Eric Deetz told The Virginian-Pilot newspaper. "That pottery had something to do with the Elizabethan presence on that island."

The shards were unearthed near The Lost Colony theater ticket house. The dig site is near the location of a fort built in 1585 by English explorers. Two years later, a group of men and women arrived to establish the first English colony in what they referred to as "the new world." Three years later, they had disappeared, earning them the name "The Lost Colony."

Deetz said the discovery is the most significant pottery find in the area since the 1940s.

Very few artifacts from the first three English expeditions to the North Carolina coast have been recovered on Roanoke Island.

Roanoke Island amphitheatre for performances of "The Lost Colony" outdoor drama (Web photo)