Two and a half hours drive from Washington, DC is Jamestown, VA, the first English settlement. For the last 20 plus years, the Rediscovery Project has been digging artifacts to learn more about America’s earliest history. I went in March and they are still working on the project so new information is found and proved all the time.
The Jamestowne Rediscovery Project started in the 90s at the request of Queen Elizabeth II, we have the written works of the first settlers and Englishmen who came such as the infamous John Smith, now we are getting physical proof of what went on back in 1607 when the first arrived.
For instance, John smith and Gabriel archer wrote about the first battle on the island and found the body of a 14-year-old body English sailor who was fighting the Powhatan Tribe. The Rediscovery Project found the body of what they have concluded is a 14-year-old Englishman. This proves what Smith and Archer wrote and that this battle.
The fact that we still speak the same language as they did in the 1600s has helped with the excavating and learning about the earliest history of what would become the United States of America. They also found the trash site, where pieces of animal bones showed their diet, coins from Europe and the jugs that carried their alcohol showed where they were coming from or where they passed through during their journey.
There are still a lot of questions the archaeologists and historians have. At the time I visited, they had recently discovered a wooden book or top to a box that stayed largely intact. They found out that it was made out of copper and that is how it has survived for over 400 years but it being held in their labs for further testing to see what was its purpose. It could help us understand the way of life more. The burial sites also remain a mystery, the direction they are buried in and the kind of coffin they were in sometimes contradict their lifestyle. For instance, religious figures are buried looking east towards Jerusalem but the body was wearing proper navy uniform, why was this person buried in such a position when there is no written record of a person having two positions, as a navy man and as a clergy member?
The Jamestown site is considered one of the top 10 archeology sites in the world. One of their most famous discovered is a teenage girl, around 14 years’ old who had rich nutrients in her bones showing that she was fed the best quality but was wearing working class attire. The archeologists theorize that she was a maid but there is no record of her in any books. At the time of settling into Virginia, the settlers kept records of all names, ages and occupation of who came but this teenage girl is nowhere to be found. The project decided to name her Jane and today, she is considered a top 10 archeology find. The Rediscovery Project as well as many other similar projects around the world continue this important work so that we and future generations can learn about our ancestors, especially for those who did not have a voice during their time, such as Jane.
To learn more and keep updated on their findings, please visit the projects website and if you ever get a chance, take advantage and visit them yourself. Walk the steps that John Smith and Pocahontas took along with Jane and hundreds of other Native Americans and English settlers.