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HomeNewsPriceless Artifacts from Summer Dig Season Now on Exhibit in Historic Jamestowne's Archaearium
Priceless Artifacts from Summer Dig Season Now on Exhibit in Historic Jamestowne's Archaearium

This summer season Historic Jamestowne archaeologists have found four remarkably significant decorative objects: an initialed solid gold ring likely once worn by one of Virginia's first assemblymen, a copper pendant that may depict a Powhatan Indian, a brass ornamental counterweight for a coin scale, and a medallion commemorating the English knighting of a Dutch prince.

Dr. William Kelso, Director of Archaeology for APVA Preservation Virginia, said, "These finds are clearly symbolic of significant chapters in the Jamestown story: the first representative democratic assembly, the free economy, the military nature of the settlement, and English-native relationships."

Memento Mori Ring
Memento Mori Ring
Memento Mori Ring
The early 17th-century gold ring depicts a skull with the initials C L and the Latin legend: Memento Mori or "remember thy death." Bly Straube, Historic Jamestown's Senior Curator, speculates that the initials could be attributed to Captain Christopher Lawne who was a member of the first Virginia General Assembly. Straube indicates "The ring would have been very expensive and would have been worn by a person of significant wealth and stature."

Captain Lawne arrived at Jamestown on April 27, 1619, with fifteen settlers and established one of the first English settlements in Isle of Wight County on a creek that still bears his name. Captain Lawne and Ensign Washer represented Lawne's Plantation in the first House of Burgesses that met at Jamestown on the 30th day of July 1619. Lawne died in November of the same year.

Medallion
Medallion Dated 1615
Medallion Dated 1615
A medallion recovered from the fort may have ties to Virginia's three-time governor George Yeardley, who presided over the first General Assembly.

The brass object commemorates the induction of Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange, into the English order of Knights of the Garter in 1612.

Yeardley served under Prince Maurice as a young man while fighting the Spanish in the Netherlands. In 1609 he sailed for Virginia on the ill-fated Sea Venture that wrecked on the reefs of Bermuda, spending ten months there before finally reaching Jamestown. A similar medallion was found at the site of Yeardley's home at Flowerdew Hundred Plantation near Hopewell, Virginia.

Early 17th-Century Pendant
Early 17th-Century Pendant
Early 17th-Century Pendant
This copper pendant was found sealed beneath the oldest of several working surfaces in the buried cellar of James Fort's 1607 experimental ironworking building. Straube suggests the object may depict a Virginia Indian in such detail that it could have been used in the fort as an identification badge. If this is a likeness of a Powhatan Indian, it is extremely rare and, therefore, one of only three known other than the 1580s drawings of the Roanoke (N.C.) colony leader, John White.

Nuremberg Lion Counterweight
A brass lion played a role in the Jamestown economy. Made in Nuremberg, Germany it was used as a counterweight to a coin scale. As the 17th century progressed, the common use in Virginia of tobacco as currency was supplemented by coins of various precious metals, which were only as valuable as their weight on a standardized scale.
Nuremberg Lion Counterweight
Nuremberg Lion Counterweight
Elizabeth Kostelny, Executive Director of APVA Preservation Virginia, states "APVA is proud to have funded the research that ultimately led to the discovery of the 1607 James Fort. We continue to fund this profound research and are honored to share the insights of the lives of the individuals, English, Virginia Indian and African, that came together and formed the first permanent English settlement in America with the international community at large. America's 400th anniversary may have passed, but the excitement at Historic Jamestowne continues. Visitors can still seize the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness firsthand the unearthing of America's Birthplace."

Active excavation will continue throughout this year's dig season weekdays and, weather permitting, until the end of October. Visitors are invited to come and view the excavation and share in the moment of discovery. For further information on Historic Jamestowne, including complete dig updates, visit www.historicjamestowne.org.

If You Go
Historic Jamestowne offers a wealth of activities for exploring the first permanent English settlement in North America. Visitors can share the moment of discovery with archaeologists and witness archaeology-in-action at the 1607 James Fort excavation; learn about the Jamestown Rediscovery excavation at the Nathalie P. and Alan M. Voorhees Archaearium, the site's new archaeology museum; tour the original 17th-century church tower and reconstructed 17th-century Jamestown Memorial Church; and take a walking tour with a Park Ranger through the New Towne area along the scenic James River. Entrance to the site is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Historic Jamestowne Visitor Center and Voorhees Archaearium are open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and the grounds remain open until dusk.

The nearby Jamestown Settlement, administered by the Commonwealth of Virginia's Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, offers a film, museum exhibits, and living history in outdoor re-creations of a colonial fort, a Powhatan Indian village, and three ships like those that brought the settlers to Jamestown.

Historic Jamestowne is jointly administered by the National Park Service and APVA Preservation Virginia and preserves the original site of the first permanent English settlement in the New World. Admission is $10.00 for adults and includes admission to Yorktown Battlefield for seven consecutive days. Children under age 16 are free. National Park Service and federal recreation passes are also honored. For further information, visit www.HistoricJamestowne.org or call (757) 229-1733 or (757) 898-2410.

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