This small glass lens was once part of a telescope. Telescopes were not well known to the Jamestown colonists, because they had only recently been invented! The first patent for a telescope was applied for in the Netherlands in 1608, just one year after the first 104 men and boys arrived at Jamestown. Early telescopes were designed to extend the line of vision, and were quickly adapted as navigational guides such as spy glasses. The earliest telescopes were refracting telescopes, which operate with two glass lenses: an eyepiece and an objective lens to focus light and magnify the view.
Thomas Harriot who had previously spent time in the Roanoke settlement in what is now North Carolina, made the first drawings of the moon using a telescope in 1609. That same year, Galileo created a new design for the telescope and also explored the moon, and the planets Venus, and Jupiter, publishing his findings in 1610.
Johannes Kepler further improved telescope design, creating a telescope that provided a wider field of view and allowed for greater magnification in 1611. It is unclear which telescope design the lens excavated from Jamestown once belonged to, but it is still significant as a small piece of one of the earliest telescopes to be made and used in nautical navigation across the Atlantic.