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Archaeology Program Highlights Modern Tools Used In Historic Jamestown Discoveries

Evidence of cannibalism, the first Protestant church built in North America, and the graves of four of the "founding fathers" of the Jamestown Colony are among the recent archaeological finds at Historic Jamestowne on the coast of Virginia. These finds, located within fifty feet of each other in the center of the 1607 James Fort, have done much to help researchers unlock the history of the early years of the first successful English colony in North America.

But in each case, it was the use of modern forensic techniques that gave researchers the key to finding and understanding these historic discoveries. Grave Excavation

David Givens, an alumnus of Mars Hill University and senior staff archaeologist of the Jamestown Rediscovery Team, will share the stories of historic Jamestowne and describe the very modern tools that have led to recent discoveries in a program titled: "Thinking Inside The Box:

Using Modern Tools to Understand Jamestown’s Past." The program, which is free and open to the public, will take place on April 6 at 7 pm in Broyhill Chapel, at Mars Hill University.

The lecture will highlight the advanced techniques, including digital modeling, radiographic, and isotopic information that aided in the identification and understanding of James Fort’s earliest colonists.

According to Givens, three recent discoveries at Jamestown have been listed among the top ten archaeology finds in the world as defined by Archaeology Magazine. One of those finds is "Jane," a young woman who apparently died in the Jamestown colony during the "starving time" of the winter of 1609-10.

In the fall of 2012, Rediscovery archaeologists encountered the cranium of a 14-year old girl in a back-filled cellar. The cranium – along with the recovery of her mandible and portions of her right tibia – exhibited evidence proving that this colonist was “processed to be eaten."
In the months that followed, the Jamestown Rediscovery team in conjunction with forensic anthropologists from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History explored the evidence of cannibalism. The forensic profile discovered detailed a very dark time of America’s past.
Even more recently, researchers found the 1608 church of the settlement, thought to be the earliest Protestant church in North America. Within the body of the church, archaeologists found four graves in the eastern end of the church in a defined area known as the chancel.
The graves were excavated in November of 2013, revealing four high-status colonists prominent in Jamestown’s history. Artifacts found within the graves presented a complex conservation challenge – one that high-tech imaging would help solve and ultimately help identify the four individuals.

This program is sponsored by Mars Hill University and organized by the Liston B. Ramsey Center for Regional Studies. For more information, contact Program Coordinator Hannah Furgiuele, at 828-689-1571 or hfurgiuele@mhu.edu. Also see www.historicjamestowne.org.