In 2010, Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists discovered the site of the earliest known Protestant church in North America. Hidden within the church was a mystery: in the chancel at the east end of the building archaeologists found four graves, which were subsequently excavated in November 2013. The chancel was the holiest part of the church, where the communion table stood and where only the most important people in the community were buried. Archaeological, historical, and scientific analyses have now helped researchers to identify the four leaders of Jamestown chosen for this honor: The Reverend Robert Hunt, Captain Gabriel Archer, Sir Ferdinando Wainman, and Captain William West.
Learn more about the excavation of the chancel burials in the “Finding the Founders of English America” video. Then begin exploring with the links below how historical, archaeological, scientific, and forensic evidence have been brought together to identify these four leaders of Jamestown and to examine a mysterious silver box that was placed on one of the coffins.
The Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation (Preservation Virginia) and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for their support of this research project: