John White returning to the Roanoke Colony in 1590 to discover the settlement abandoned and the message "CROATOAN"
Program Note: This program has a rescheduled date (originally June 21, 2022).
No other historical mystery has captured the fascination of Americans more than the Lost Colony of Roanoke. This first attempt by the English to settle the New World, with the backing of Elizabethan courtier Sir Walter Raleigh, ended in the disappearance of 115 men, women, and children on what is now the North Carolina coast. Their enigmatic fate has aroused the curiosity of generations of explorers, storytellers, and historians, but the documentary evidence has long remained frustratingly thin.
Recently, two archaeological teams have been at work attempting to uncover physical clues that might provide hard answers, and both claim to have found solid evidence for what took place after the settlers vanished from the historical record. Andrew Lawler, a longtime science journalist, takes us back to the time of Queen Elizabeth I, examining both old archival material and new archaeological data to provide up-to-date insights on what took place on the shores of the Outer Banks in the late 1580s. He also comments on how our search for the Lost Colony reflects changing American views on Native Americans, racial mixing, and immigration, and can shed surprising light on those who seek the long-lost Elizabethans.
Lawler is the author of The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke.
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