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HomeNewsHistoric Jamestowne Archaeologists Will Dig on Weekends Through Summer

Archaeologists dig near the western palisade
Archaeologists dig near the western palisade
Now through August, archaeologists at Historic Jamestowne will expand their excavation schedule to include weekends so that visitors can share the moment of discovery at the 1607 James Fort excavation site, every day, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For centuries, it was commonly believed that the fort site had been lost to erosion by the James River, but since archaeologists discovered one corner in 1996, they have found that nearly all of it still exists on land.

As archaeologists scrape back layers of soil and time to reveal the secrets of the first permanent English settlement in America, visitors will see the footprints left by buildings and palisades that stood while John Smith was there and objects that were last handled by the colonists nearly 400 years ago, such as pieces of pottery, ceramics, pipes, beads, copper, tokens and pieces of armor, as well as the bones that remain from the food they ate.

Currently, the staff is working inside the west wall of the fort site, uncovering the foundations and remains of buildings, from the early years of the Jamestown settlement, as well as pits filled with objects discarded by the colonists, during the first years of the settlement. Throughout the next few months, they will continue to work their way toward the center of the fort site, looking for evidence of the first church and other buildings.

Since the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA Preservation Virginia) began the excavation in 1994, archaeologists have found the outline of James Fort including the remains of portions of the palisade walls and two bulwarks, as well as several interior buildings including a cobblestone foundation that may mark the site of the governor's house. They've also unearthed a military style long house with a cellar room, a moat, a warehouse, wells and several pits. In addition, they've uncovered and analyzed the remains of the foundations of the last Jamestown statehouse.

Over 800,000 objects, many dating to the Elizabethan era, have been unearthed so far, as well as the burials of a man and woman believed to have been among the early settlers and the remains of a high-ranking colonist, possibly Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, the principal organizer and administrator of the early Jamestown effort. Artifacts especially reflective of life at James Fort include an ivory compass, pieces of armor, glass and copper trade beads and ornaments, ceramics, jettons, tools, jewelry, religious icons, and other personal items. Objects made in England, France, Germany, Holland, Spain, and other western European countries are represented in the collection.

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