Scholars believe that the first people to live in the Albemarle descended from ancestors who crossed into North America from Asia by 18,000 B.C. Other theories suggest that colonization was by sea. Americans from the Early and Middle Holocene geologic periods (8,500 B. C. to 1,000 B.C.) are known as Archaic people. They developed the atlatl, a spear thrower that increased speed and range enabling them to hunt smaller and faster game. This and other advancements helped them to settle in larger communities and make increasing use of the region’s plentiful water resources for food.
With these changes, Archaic people developed into people now known as Woodland. The Woodland people brought new ideas and skills---making earthen pots, hunting with bows and arrows, and eventually cultivating crops to enhance their diet. It was the Late Woodland Algonkian speaking people who encountered the English explorers on the first Roanoke Voyage in 1584.