In 2022, the Jamestown Rediscovery archaeology team continued excavations on the north side of the historic Church Tower. In 2021, the team uncovered intact deposits related to the construction of the Tower (ca. 1680) capping earlier ground surfaces. The lowest historic layer was the ca. 1607 ground surface, where features related to James Fort began to appear. The team discovered a portion of the eastern palisade trench, as well as a line of postholes and sill trenches related to an early Fort Period (1607-1610) structure incorporated into the palisade. Currently, the team thinks this might have served as a gatehouse or watch tower during the Fort’s earliest years.
One of the main goals of exploring this area was to gain new insights into the interactions between the English colonists and the Powhatan Polity, the conglomeration of 32 tribes that controlled the entire Coastal Plain of Virginia. From 1607 to 1609, relations between the English and Powhatan were wary but largely peaceful. The Powhatan saw the English as potential tributaries and trading partners and supported the fledgling Jamestown colony by trading food. The English had dreams of empire but needed the Powhatan to survive. One of the archaeological features in the project area was a small shallow pit, filled with both English and Powhatan artifacts. Excavations confirmed that the pit probably dates to ca.1610, or prior to the beginning of the first Anglo-Powhatan War (1610-1614).
In addition, the archaeology team began excavations in the field north of 1607 James Fort. This field has been largely unexplored, but the ground-penetrating radar (GPR) surveys conducted by the team this year have helped to identify areas with interesting archaeological features, which we hope to investigate in the near future.