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.
FREDERICKSBURG, VA. - The first bullet surfaced just after lunch.
As Jon Tucker sifted soil through a screen in September, a corroded lead slug jiggled into view amid the sand and ash excavated from a pit just a few feet from a fenced-off sidewalk and rushing traffic. Tucker waved to his supervisor, archaeologist Taft Kiser, and held up the bullet for him to see.
Hundreds of artifacts followed, along with the contours of a buried cellar holding a rich trove of Civil War history sealed since a ferocious 1862 battle in this Virginia city, which today lies just beyond the suburbs of Washington.
The discovery amid construction of a courthouse was unexpected. But the site has astonished historians and archaeologists for another reason: It represents a “time capsule,” in the words of Kiser, undisturbed through more than a century of urban construction around it. Read more.
Archaeologists excavating at the site of America’s first permanent English colony on Jamestown Island in Virginia will tell you that even the smallest, microscopic artifacts recovered from the soil can tell you much about what life was like during the first years of the fledgling colony. So demonstrates Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologist Danny Schmidt through a newly released video. He shows how recently excavated soil from the colony’s first well (constructed some time before 1611) has been water-screened through an 8th-inch mesh screen onto a window mesh to reveal tiny objects that, together, have told a story about the lives and events of the first colonists.
The well, called “John Smith’s Well” after the famous colonist, was excavated by a team of archaeologists and students in 2009. The processing and analysis of the finds from the well, however, continue to this day. Read more.
A mother-load of archaeological artifacts dredged up from wells helps tell the story of the first permanent English colony in the U.S.
James Fort, Virginia, 1607. For years, it was thought that the remains of the historic Fort first established by English colonists in 1607 had been long washed away into the James river as the water line gradually shifted and cut its way through the plot thought to be its location. But preliminary survey excavations conducted by Dr. William Kelso (now Director of Research and Interpretation for the Preservation Virginia Jamestown Rediscovery project) beginning in 1994 in the area that once was old 17th century Jamestown, and continuing excavations since then, have produced hundreds of thousands of artifacts and other evidence for an overwhelming case to the contrary. James Fort and the early Jamestown footprint had been found. And it was in no small measure due, at least in part, to discoveries made deep inside earthy constructions most of us would consider rather mundane. To archaeologists, however, they can be gold mines.
We are talking about wells. And at the Jamestown excavations, there were wells. Read more.
Middle school and high school students are preparing to help conserve recently exposed shipwrecks from the last major battle of the Revolutionary War in Virginia’s York River.
The Virginia students — from Point Option High School in Newport News, the Williamsburg Montessori Middle School and Peasley Middle School in Gloucester — are traveling to the Waterman’s Museum in Yorktown, near the shipwrecks, on field trips.
Their training will culminate when they deploy unmanned robotic submarines designed to gather data using sonar and high-definition video, which they will collect on an ongoing basis.
The information gathered by the robotic subs is expected to help monitor the conservation status of two recently discovered shipwrecks scuttled by the British commander Lord Cornwallis during the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. Read more.
JAMESTOWN — For more than a decade, the marshy island in Virginia where British colonists landed in 1607 has yielded uncounted surprises. And yet William M. Kelso’s voice still brims with excitement as he plants his feet atop a long-buried discovery at the settlement’s heart: what he believes are the nation’s oldest remains of a Protestant church.
The discovery has excited scholars and preservationists, and unearthed a long-hidden dimension of religious life in the first permanent colony.
It may prove to be an attraction for another reason: the church would have been the site of America’s first celebrity wedding, so to speak, where the Indian princess Pocahontas was baptized and married to the settler John Rolfe in 1614. The union temporarily halted warfare with the region’s tribal federation. Read more.
JAMESTOWN, Va. (AP) — Researchers say the ongoing dig at the historic James Fort has revealed a large and important footprint of a 17th century church.
The lost 1608 church is where Pocahontas and John Rolfe were married. It also is where the first permanent English settlers in the New World worshipped.
Unlike many of the discoveries made by the Jamestown Rediscovery archaeological team since 1994, officials say this one is rewriting long-held views about the Virginia colonists.
Project direct William Kelso tells The Daily Press the 24-by-64-feet church is enormous, clearly dominating the village inside the 1.1-acre fort. He says the size of the church shows how important religion was to the group, who have traditionally been depicted as lazy wealth-seekers.
Kelso will present a talk on the dig Tuesday at Colonial Williamsburg’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. (source)