In Captain William West’s burial, the southernmost grave inside the chancel, archaeologists encountered an object composed of traces of silver threads, silver spangles, and silk cloth. Located between West’s rib cage and left arm, this artifact was the only item found within one of the chancel burial coffins.

The object was too fragile to excavate, so conservators decided to remove the entire block of soil surrounding the artifact for more controlled examination in the lab. Initial x-rays revealed hundreds of small silver wires and scores of silver spangles embedded in the soil. The block was then taken to Cornell University’s Biotechnology Resource Center for higher resolution Micro CT 3D imaging.

The 3D imagery helped the team to identify the fragile object as the remnants of a captain’s sash with bullion fringe. West was killed in fighting against elite Indian warriors at the falls near present-day Richmond in the late fall or winter of 1610 and was brought back to Jamestown for burial. He was buried with this important symbol of his rank.


Artifacts