Sunday, August 21, 2011

America’s Most Important Archeological Dig

After seventeen years, Jamestown Rediscovery’s archeological dig is arguably the most important in America.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is managing Historic Jamestown for Preservation Virginia (formerly APVA) and has added a new dimension to Jamestown Rediscovery. For example, the summer edition of its Journal features two articles that should be of interest to any student of Jamestown.

The first is James Fort, Lost and Found, by Dr. William Kelso, who briefly reprises his 2006 book, Jamestown, The Buried Truth, then gives us his own insightful update and account of the astounding discovery of the first Protestant church in America, the original 1608 church at Jamestown. This is a must read.

Kelso and his team used the description of the church by William Strachey, a scribe aboard the ill-fated Sea Venture, who then spent two years c. 1611-12 at Jamestown recording much of what we know today. His measurements and narrative of the church offered Kelso clues that led to establishing its size and location.

It is possible to see just where Pocahontas and John Rolfe were married, and so many other significant events that took place roughly from 1608-1617. We recently experienced that eerie sensation of being so close to the physical place where those events occurred and encourage all of our readers to do the same before the dig season is over.

The size and location of the church are graphically depicted on the Historical Jamestown web site.

The second article is especially relevant for those who attended our recent San Diego presentation on the Pace family at Jamestowne, where we referred to their life under the colony’s near-martial law, also as recorded by Strachey. In Upon Paine of Death; The Lawes Divine, Morall and Martiall, archeologist Ivor Noel Hume details the scope, purpose and function of the severe laws that governed the colony from 1611 until the rule of common law was introduced by the Virginia Company of London in 1618. Hume also comments that at least one of their remnants was employed until well into the nineteenth century.

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