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to 1600

Color illustration of two American Indian men cooking two large fish on a grate over a fire.

A “digital textbook”

LEARN NC’s digital textbook for North Carolina History uses primary sources and multimedia to tell many stories about the past, not just one.

Part one explores the natural and human history of the state from the dawn of geologic time to approximately 1600 CE.

North Carolina Digital History

Prehistory, contact, and the Lost Colony

With the arrival of European explorers in the 1500s, two worlds collided in North Carolina. Peoples that had lived here for thousands of years — in a land that had existed for millions — were changed forever, and the stage was set for a new era that would link the peoples and cultures of Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

Designed for secondary students, this first module of our web-based “digital textbook” combines primary sources with articles from a variety of perspectives, maps, photographs, and multimedia to tell the many stories of early North Carolina:

  • the geology, geography, ecology, and natural history of North Carolina
  • the ways of life of native North Carolinians, from their arrival more than 9000 years ago to their first contact with Europeans
  • early European exploration of the Americas and Spanish efforts to plant a colony in North Carolina
  • England and the “Lost Colony” of Roanoke
  • the effects of the “Columbian Exchange” of biology and culture between Europe, Africa, and the Americas

Get started: Table of Contents


More than just a linear narrative, our “digital textbook” is modular and fully searchable. If you need a primary source, a map, some background reading, or a lesson plan, this is the place to start!