Surgically-Marked Skull Fragment
Surgically-Marked Skull Fragment
  • Object number – Various
  • Material – Bone
  • Place of Origin – England
  • Date – 17th Century
  • Context – James Fort
  • Location – Archaearium, Collections
  • Category – The People

Human bone excavated on Jamestown Island provides direct evidence of the lives and health of the people who inhabited James Fort. Burials contain the life history and death of an individual, preserved in their skeletal remains and the grave they were interred in. Along with the biological information of the bones, intact burials can encode information about funerary practices and the pressures the Virginia environment exerted on the traditional Christian rites the colonists brought with them from England. On the other hand, disarticulated bone found throughout the site cannot tell us as much about a single person but can sometimes hold important clues to health in the population and practices related to medicine. Bone with evidence of surgical intervention and loose teeth with caries (cavities) align with surgical instruments found at Jamestown as well as historical records of surgeons and barbers who voyaged to Jamestown and the implements and procedures they used.

selected remains

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