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Mercer Student Team to Help in Search for Lost Colony

October 8, 2010

Media Contact: Mark Vanderhoek, (478) 301-4037 or

MACON – Mercer history professor Dr. Eric Klingelhofer will for the first time lead a team of six Mercer students to Roanoke Island, N.C., to participate in an archaeological dig at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, one of the world’s most important archaeological sites. The group will look for signs of the “Lost Colony” that disappeared from the island in 1590.

The students depart on Oct. 9 and travel to Roanoke Island, the location of the first colony of the English nation. The settlement was established in 1585 by military colonists, who were eventually withdrawn and replaced by a civilian group in 1587. This group is the famous “Lost Colony,” so named because a ship landed on the island in 1590 and found it empty. The fate of the colonists has been a mystery ever since.

Dr. Klingelhofer is co-director of First Colony Foundation, the archaeological research program leading the search. Students will be using new technology in their search, such as underground radar, GPS and computer enhancement programs. This technology helped locate and “groundtruth” (examine by excavation) geophysical anomalies in June, but none were identified as having Elizabethan origin.

“The trip is a unique experience for students to be able to participate directly in the search for clues to one of America’s greatest mysteries and provide students with valuable field experience outside of the classroom,” Dr. Klingelhofer said. “It will be an experience that these students will someday relate to their children and grandchildren.”

Students working on the project will learn excavation techniques, as well as feature and artifact identification. The students return Oct. 18, and will also be required to write a 10-page paper on their participation in the dig.

Junior Katie Martin is going on the trip and says that she looks forward to it. “I’m really excited about the opportunity to work at an archaeological dig. It’ll definitely be an awesome experience for all of us going.” Martin said that most of the students participating have never worked at an archaeological site before.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,200 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at three regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit