Archaeologists excavating at Jamestown, Virginia, the site of America’s first successful English colony, have uncovered two deep posthole features 24 feet apart in the area of the 1607 James Fort, evidencing a possible structure that has not heretofore been discovered among the many finds and features that have already come to light at the historic excavation site.
A posthole in archaeology is a patch, usually circular, of darker or discolored earth that reveals the location of timber or a wood beam that was placed in the ground to support or define a structure that once existed at a site. Being organic, the timber or wood beam usually would have long decomposed, leaving a visible trace in the soil that archaeologists can recognize while excavating. Read more.
Archaeologists excavating at the site of Jamestown, the New World’s first successful English colony, have uncovered more features evidencing activity of the first English colonists who arrived on Jamestown Island, Virginia, more than 400 years ago.
Excavations in the churchyard of the 1907 Memorial Church have turned up about 70 feet of the now vanished historic James Fort palisade that defined an eastern extension of the Fort. Reports Dr. William M. Kelso, head of archaeological research at Historic Jamestowne: “The shape of this expansion also seems to be a mirror image of James Fort, where one angle of the triangle was 90 degrees and two were 45 degrees. So a bird’s eye view of the expanded fort might resemble a diamond shape.” Read more.
JAMESTOWN – Archaeologists at Historic Jamestowne have discovered the complete skeleton of a horse buried just yards from the 1639 church tower, probably some time after 1650.
Archaeologist Daniel Schmidt said Thursday that the horse was discovered as archaeologists excavated a palisade trench they believe represents an extension of the original triangular James Fort.
That trench was dug parallel to the church only a few yards away, and headed toward a gate though which most Historic Jamestowne visitors walk as they make their way from the visitor center. “To think, almost everyone who has visited Historic Jamestowne until this week has walked about a foot over this horse,” Schmidt said. Read more.
When archaeologists in Virginia uncovered the skeletal remains in 1996 of one of Jamestown’s first settlers — a young European male designated as JR102C in the catalog — they said he was the victim in what was perhaps Colonial America’s oldest unsolved murder.
At the time, archaeologist William Kelso, now director of archaeological research and interpretation at , reported that “the lead bullet and shot fragments lodged in his lower right leg contained enough force to fracture his tibia and fibula bones, rupturing a major artery below the knee. JR would have bled to death within minutes.”
Now, 17 years later, the forensic archaeologists at Jamestown may have identified the victim and, therefore, the perpetrator of the crime. Read more.
The harsh winter of 1609 in Virginia’s Jamestown Colony forced residents to do the unthinkable. A recent excavation at the historic site discovered the carcasses of dogs, cats and horses consumed during the season commonly called the “Starving Time.” But a few other newly discovered bones in particular, though, tell a far more gruesome story: the dismemberment and cannibalization of a 14-year-old English girl.
“The chops to the forehead are very tentative, very incomplete,” says Douglas Owsley, the Smithsonian forensic anthropologist who analyzed the bones after they were found by archaeologists from Preservation Virginia. “Then, the body was turned over, and there were four strikes to the back of the head, one of which was the strongest and split the skull in half. A penetrating wound was then made to the left temple, probably by a single-sided knife, which was used to pry open the head and remove the brain.” Read more.
Archaeologists at the early 17th century English colonial site of Jamestown in Virginia have been steadily unearthing a 25-foot-long L-shaped cellar located inside the enclosed area of the original “footprint” of the 1607 James Fort, uncovering two remarkably well preserved brick ovens that show evidence of extensive use before they were abandoned to time.
"These are some of the most intact ovens we’ve ever excavated here at Jamestown," said archaeologist Mary Anna Richardson.
What is more, they seem to have retained features that would, at least theoretically, permit a person today to use the ovens for baking. According to senior staff archaeologist Danny Schmidt, “these two now we could fire right up today”. Read more.
Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Trades brickmakers are providing expertise and hands-on help as Jamestowne Rediscovery staff replicate the “mud-and-stud” construction method used by the very earliest Jamestown Island colonists.
Efforts to duplicate the construction method used in 1607 have been ongoing for the past year at the partially reconstructed “barracks” structure inside the original palisade of James Fort. Testing and demonstration of the building technique has been conducted by Jamestown Rediscovery senior archaeologist Dave Givens — with other staff members and students — and Colonial Williamsburg’s brickmakers — journeyman Jason Whitehead and apprentice Josh Graml.
“Digging and finding below ground remnants of buildings is only a first step for us to understand early Jamestown,” archaeological project director Dr. William Kelso said. Read more.
JAMES CITY —— More than 400 years after America’s first permanent English settlement rose from the ground, archaeologists are combining local clay, loam and black needle rush grass in an experimental effort to recreate the unique method used to construct some of the colony’s earliest buildings.
The project blends archaeological evidence gleaned from Jamestown with research into the traditional mud-and-stud building techniques of Lincolnshire, England, which was the home of such key settlers asCapt. John Smith and carpenter William Laxton.
It also requires Preservation Virginia archaeologist David Givens and his Historic Jamestowne students to learn on the job, employing their eyes and fingertips in a trial-and-error attempt to unlock the lost secrets of the simple but age-old tradition of building with mud. Read more.