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HomeNewsArtifacts from Historic Jamestowne to be exhibited at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History
Artifacts from Historic Jamestowne to be exhibited at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History

Over 70 artifacts from the James Fort excavations at Historic Jamestowne will be part of a major exhibition of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History opening February 7th 2009. Entitled Written in Bone, the exhibit features the profound work of Dr. Doug Owsley, Division Head of Physical Anthropology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and explores how forensic science is expanding our understanding of life in 17th century America. What can we learn from bones? From burials? The answers, gathered from state-of-the-art scientific skeletal analysis, are remarkably detailed. Until fairly recently, scientists could only piece together the story of the early Chesapeake colonists from historical documents. Visitors to this exhibit will experience a vivid demonstration of how mysteries "locked" in our own skeleton and those hundreds of years old can be revealed. With the application of sophisticated modern forensic anthropology, archaeology, and historical research to recently excavated 17th century remains, the colonists themselves can tell their stories - a legacy written in bone.

Among the Jamestown artifacts leaving this week for the two-year loan are several objects currently featured in the Nathalie P. and Alan M. Voorhees Archaearium. These include the skeleton of Captain Bartholomew Gosnold and the finial from the ceremonial staff found in his grave. Dr. William Kelso, Director of Archaeology at Historic Jamestowne said "Gosnold was the primary force behind the expedition to Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America, but his efforts have, for the most part, been lost to history. The opportunity to share Dr. Owsley's research at Jamestown with Smithsonian visitors provides a unique opportunity to share the story of Captain Gosnold with a vast international audience and feature the significance of the role he played at Historic Jamestowne and the role he played ultimately in the birthplace of America."

While Gosnold's skeletal remains and other exhibited artifacts are on loan to the Smithsonian for Written in Bone, they will be represented in the Archaearium by full-scale fret-cut images. Visitors to the Archaearium also have the opportunity to view an exceptional collection of over 1,000 artifacts uncovered from ongoing excavations of James Fort, by the Jamestown Rediscovery archaeological team, including a new display of several rare artifacts found during this summer's dig season.

If You Go
Historic Jamestowne preserves and interprets the site of the first permanent English settlement in America and is jointly administered by APVA Preservation Virginia and the National Park Service -- Colonial National Historical Park. Admission is $10.00 per adult; age 15 and younger is free. National Park Service passports and APVA memberships are honored. The main entrance to Historic Jamestowne is open from 8:30am to 4:30pm, Visitor Center Hours are from 9am to 5pm and the Archaearium is open 9:30am to 5pm daily.

Historic Jamestowne is located at the western terminus of the Colonial Parkway; from I-64, take exit 242-A (Route 199) and follow the signs for Colonial Parkway/Jamestown. From Southside, take the Jamestown Ferry and turn right onto Route 359, following the signs for Historic Jamestowne. For additional information, contact Colonial National Historical Park at 757-229-1733 or 757-898-2410, or via the internet at www.HistoricJamestowne.org.

Historic Jamestowne offers a wealth of activities for exploring the first permanent English settlement in North America. Start your visit at the Visitor Center, with exhibits and a multi-media theater presentation about America's Birthplace; share the moment of discovery with archaeologists and witness archaeology-in-action at the 1607 James Fort excavation; visit the Archaearium to see some of the more than 1 million artifacts excavated; walk through New Towne where the settlement grew beyond the fort walls and see the 17th-century landscape recreated with Virtual Viewers; tour the original 17th-century church tower and reconstructed 17th-century Jamestown Memorial Church; take a walking tour with a park ranger through the original settlement along the scenic James River; and watch costumed glassblowers at the Glasshouse. Museum stores are available at the Visitor Center and at the Voorhees Archaearium. Lunch is available on the banks of the James River at the Dale House Cafe. Driving tours explore the lush natural setting where exhibits explain how the settlers harnessed that wilderness for their needs and visitors regularly see bald eagles, heron, osprey, deer and other wildlife.

What Have We Found?
Featured Find

Featured Tours
In the Trenches
In the Trenches Curator's Artifact Tour
Curator's Artifact Tour

Jane, The Book and Video

Jamestown: The Buried Truth

America in 1607: Jamestown and the Powhatan

Jamestown Rediscovery Preservation Virginia Colonial Williamsburg National Park Service 757-229-4997
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