Rainbow over fort site

Jamestown Rediscovery has finished the 2015 field season, and switched gears to research, planning future exhibits, and finishing a new Interim Report on the recent findings. While the team may have disappeared from the field, our most recent discoveries have kept us in the news. Most exciting, was the announcement that Archaeology Magazine named the identification of four of Jamestown’s founders in the 1608 church as one of their Top Ten archaeological discoveries of 2015. This is the third time that Rediscovery has received this honor. In 2010, the discovery of the earliest Anglican Church at Jamestown in English north America made the list. The Top Ten list in 2013 included the recovery of a young woman who died during the “Starving Time” winter of 1609-1610. Analysis revealed that she was the victim of survival cannibalism. What the Rediscovery team learned about this colonist was the focus of a recent episode of PBS’s “Secrets of the Dead.” See link: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/jamestowns-dark-winter-full-episode/2427/

In the lab, curators are crossmending ceramics from the cellar at the northeast corner of the 1608 addition to James Fort (Structure 193) to determine the relationship of layers within the feature. Among the vessels is a small salt-glazed stoneware Bartmann jug made in Frechen, Germany. It is comprised of three crossmended sherds. Although it bears the Tudor coat-of-arms of Queen Elizabeth I, it conceivably was made during the early Stuart reign of James I since potters repeatedly used their molds until they were no longer usable.

This month, conservator Katy Corneli is beginning research of several fragments of large bronze bells found in various locations on our site. Archaeologists are interested in determining if any of these fragments are parts of bells related to the early Jamestown churches. “There are five large pieces in the collection, two of which appear to belong to same bell based solely on observation,” said Corneli. One of the pieces was discovered in the early 20th century during the construction of the concrete seawall protecting Preservation Virginia’s portion of Historic Jamestowne. Others were found around the iconic Jamestown Church Tower that still stands today.

This month’s Dig Update video features Janine Skerry, Curator Metalworks for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Skerry provides insight into the origins of the silver box found in the grave of Captain Gabriel Archer. Special thanks are extended to Skerry, and to conservators Kirsten Moffitt, and Emily Williams, also of Colonial Williamsburg for their contributions to the analysis of the reliquary.

Lastly, we were saddened this month by the passing of Jamestown Rediscovery Staff Archaeologist Dan Smith. Dan was a skilled and meticulous excavator who loved the outdoors. He was passionate about historical research and writing and served as author and editor for several of the interim reports and publications we produced. Although a private man, Dan was one of the friendliest and most congenial people you would ever hope to meet. The staff and volunteers enjoyed his good-natured humor and company, and our visitors enjoyed Dan’s insightful interpretations of our findings. Dan and his contributions to Jamestown Rediscovery archaeology over last eight years will always be remembered.

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Dig Update Archive, 2004-present