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Time Team America: Fort Raleigh, North Carolina

Airs Wednesday, July 8 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: TIME TEAM AMERICA's excavators uncovered a line of subtle stains in the soil at Fort Raleigh National Park on Roanoke Island. The staining may indicate 16th century wooden structures built by America’s first English colonists.

TIME TEAM AMERICA goes in search of our nation’s mysterious roots at Roanoke Island. In 1586 the English sent the first group of hardy, hopeful colonists to make a go of it in the New World. But when English ships returned with supplies just three years later, they found the settlement empty and colonists gone. The colonists had left behind only one clue: the word Croatoan carved in the gatepost of their fort. It took 20 years for the stunned English to establish another settlement in America. The fate of the Roanoke colonists remains one of the most chilling and maddening questions of American history. TIME TEAM AMERICA spends three days at Fort Raleigh in hot pursuit of archaeological evidence that will put the ghost of Roanoke to rest and establish where the first colony in America was actually located. Watch a special preview of this episode online.

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