Stories Bricks Can Tell: Elizabethan texts and 3-D Scanning Inform Archaeological Interpretation of Roanoke Colony Metallurgical Research
The first English settlement attempt in the New World, organized by Sir Walter Ralegh in 1585, included a contingent of ‘mineral men’ led by a metallurgist from Prague named Joachim Ganz. At the colony’s settlement on Roanoke Island, North Carolina, Ganz established what archaeologist Ivor Noel Hume describes as ‘America’s First Science Center’ to assay and smelt ore specimens. Evidence of this earliest metallurgical work in North America consists of a few excavated items: charcoal, crucible fragments, smelted copper and assaying furnace remnants. These modest findings are significant as the clearest guideposts for ongoing archeological efforts to locate the colony’s settlement site.Evidence of this research activity includes a few dozen locally produced whole and partial bricks, many of which were apparently specially shaped. Their presence and potential use long puzzled archaeologists and historians. Evidentially they were interpreted as remnants of a make-shift assaying furnace possibly constructed to replace one lost in a maritime accident. This compelling hypothesis was tested by comparing 3-D of the bricks with furnace construction instructions of 16th century texts.
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Stories Bricks Can Tell: Elizabethan texts and 3-D Scanning Inform Archaeological Interpretation of Roanoke Colony Metallurgical Research. Ervin Lane, Brent Lane. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437391)