Saturday, June 5, 2010
The National Academy of Sciences is playing a role in completing the picture of the hardships and tribulations of Jamestown’s earliest settlers in coping with the environment in establishing the new colony.
In stories ranging from the Academy’s Proceedings to Science News and the Los Angeles Times, researchers from the College of William & Mary; University of California, Davis; and University of South Florida have shown that their studies of oyster shells found in the well debris in the original James Fort add to the understanding that the worst drought in 800 years exacerbated the inadequate planning and provisioning of the Virginia Company.
The recent excavation of the well, which became a trash pit, provided strong evidence of the drought from shells that the settlers had insufficient fresh drinking water and were succumbing from their use of the then-brackish supply from the James River and the well itself.
These findings are very significant in their support of the first evidence of the drought from tree rings and the reports from the colonists themselves.
See the stories at