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How were the remains of Jane found?

The L-shaped cellar was 40 feet west of the 17th century brick church tower that still stands on Jamestown Island. The cellar was about 2 1/2 feet below the present ground surface and was probably built in 1608 and later backfilled. The objects in the cellar's backfill dirt indicated it was probably covered over as part of a general cleanup ordered in June 1610 by the colony's new governor, Sir Thomas West, the 12th Baron De La Warr.

The July 2012 discovery teeth was not at first noteworthy. The project had uncovered teeth and even partial skulls in other early 17th century deposits. Remains would mix with other discarded artifacts after settlers accidently dug into one of the hundreds of unmarked burials scattered across the fort site. But this time archaeologists also found half a human skull and other fragmented cranial remains. In the same fill layer as the skull, the upper end of a right tibia appeared. There were signs the skull had been chopped in two. Was this blow the cause of death -- evidence of a 400-year-old murder? Or was this a sign of cannibalism?

Most of the artifacts found in a structure such as the L-shaped cellar date to a time after the building has stopped being used for its original purpose. As the building above it fell down and timbers rotted away, the cellar became a useful hole into which the colonists could put trash. The artifacts from this cellar, designated Structure 191, were the types of materials the Jamestown Rediscovery team had recovered from other fort contexts filled when Lord De La Warr arrived at the colony in June 1610 and ordered a clean-up and rebuilding of the fort. These objects include military equipment, complete Indian pots that had been used by the colonists, metallurgical ceramics, and numerous glass trade beads.

Where Was Jane Found?

Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists stand within the L-shaped cellar built at the center of James Fort early in the colony's history.

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For general information regarding Historic Jamestowne, email hjadmin@preservationvirginia.org.




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