Archaeology

North Carolina researchers uncovered this statue of Aphrodite while digging in the ancient city of Petra in Jordan.
Tom Parker / NC State University

Teams from North Carolina State University and East Carolina University were on a dig in the ancient city of Petra in Jordan this summer, looking for ceramics, coins, bones and other evidence of how the Nabatean people lived their lives there in the first four centuries A.D. 

N.C. State history professor Tom Parker said during an excavation of a second-century villa, the trench supervisor noticed what looked like two "butts" beginning to emerge from the sand.

Excavations at Site X in 2014 helped yield possible proof that a group of Roanoke colonists moved inland.
First Colony Foundation

The fate of the "Lost Colony" on Roanoke Island remains one of the biggest questions in North Carolina history.

Some believe the colony moved to Hatteras Island and others believe they assimilated into local native tribes.

Normally, we wouldn't call something a living fossil. But the name seems tailor-made for the frilled shark, whose roots are traced to 80 million years ago. Its prehistoric origins are obvious in its primitive body; nearly all of the rare animal's closest relatives are long extinct.

In the most recent of those 80 million years, the frilled shark has been scaring the bejeezus out of humans who pull it out of the water to find an animal with rows of needle-like teeth in a gaping mouth at the front of its head.

A composite image shows the facial differences between an ancient modern human with heavy brows and a large upper face and the more recent modern human who has rounder features and a much less prominent brow.
Robert Cieri / University of Utah

About 50,000 years ago, people started developing tools. They started making art, in caves. And they started cooperating. Simultaneously, that's when our faces went from looking like the skull on the left, to the one on the right.

A group of researchers from Duke and the University of Utah are theorizing that the correlation is not coincidence; that, in fact, the changing shape of skulls signals a change in something else that would have made cooperation more likely: A drop in male testosterone levels.

A picture of the Chowan Court House, built in 1767.
visitedenton.com

Visitors to historic Edenton already know about the "new" courthouse. That one was built in 1767. Today, archaeologists will begin searching for the town's original courthouse, which was built in 1718.

Karen Ipock is Historic Edenton's site manager. She said historic documents indicate that the old courthouse once stood somewhere on the block-long Chowan Courthouse Green, which has long-served as a town commons.

“It didn't have the best reputation. One kind of aristocratic traveler from Virginia described it as basically being a common tobacco house,” Ipock said.

This photo shows the head a figure that might be Alexander the Great. It is from a mosaic scene that is the first non-Biblical mosaic every uncovered in an Israeli synagogue.
James Haberman

Many archaeologists wait their entire career for one big find. UNC-Chapel Hill's Jodi Magness? Well, let's just say that she's having a spectacular time making discovery after discovery.

In 2011, Magness took a team to Israel to identify a dig location. They hoped to find an ancient synagogue.

A cannon raised from Blackbeard's Queen Anne Revenge on Friday, August 16, 2013.
NC Dept. of Cultural Resources

Researchers off the North Carolina coast are on dive number two for the year. Their goal is to recover artifacts from the wreck of Blackbeard's flagship, Queen Anne's Revenge, which ran aground near Beaufort nearly 300 years ago.

Project Director Bill Ray Morris says this excavation will focus on the forward part of the ship near the bow.

The remains of Fort San Juan.
Robin Beck

A group of archeologists has discovered the remains of the oldest known European settlement in the inland U.S.: a 16th century Spanish fort in western North Carolina. 

Fort San Juan was the largest of six forts built between 1566 and 1568 by explorer Juan Pardo. It’s located five miles north of Morganton at a site that was believed to be an Indian settlement. 

Robin Beck is an assistant professor of archeology at the University of Michigan and was part of the discovery team.  He says the site has something in common with North Carolina's more famous early settlement.

Jim Haberman

A group of researchers led by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Religion Professor Jodi Magness has unearthed a group of significant mosaics at an ancient synagogue in Galilee. The mosaics, which consist of hundreds of tiny stone cubes, depict scenes from in the Bible and have been dated to the fifth century.

A cannon excavated from Blackbeard's ship, Queen Anne's Revenge.
Karen K Browning; N.C. Department of Cultural Resources

State archeologists say they have the ambitious goal of recovering eight cannons from Blackbeard's ship.  The Queen Anne's Revenge sunk near Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina, in June of 1718, and the state Department of Cultural Resources has been leading efforts to recover artifacts from the ship since 1997. Divers use good weather during the summer and fall months to bring artifacts to the surface.  Last week, bad weather prevented divers from starting their yearly digs, but Fay Mitchell of the Department of Cultural Resources says they hope to surface up to three sunken cannons this week.

In 2010, the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art had to return 16 silver cups and bowls to a little town in Sicily called Morgantina.

Crews uncover the buried structure
unc.edu

Archaeologists at UNC-Chapel Hill say they've uncovered a structure on campus that is an underground cellar from the early 1800s. Construction crews ran into the buried structure last month while building a new drainage pipe underneath McCorkle Place.

Archaeologists preparing to dive.
N.C. Dept. of Cultural Resources

At the bottom of Beaufort Inlet sits an eight-foot cannon that once fired from the decks of the Queen Anne’s Revenge. It’s been there since the ship sank in 1718, and the famous pirate Blackbeard was captured. A crew of archaeologists heads out to bring the cannon to the surface today. Mark Wilde-Ramsing is the director of the Queen Anne’s Revenge Shipwreck project and an underwater archaeologist with the state. He joined WUNC's Eric Hodge to talk about the project.