Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Jamestown skeletons found and tested

Skeletons of four of the earliest leaders of Jamestown were found in 2011 when the site of the original 1608 church was found and excavated. The skeletons were found buried in the church's chancel, a high status burial area. In 2013 the archaeologists returned to find the graves and see if they could determine their identity. Tests and research in records to identify them took two years. Now archaeologists know that two of the skeletons are of men from the first expedition to arrive in Jamestown in 1607 including: the first Anglican minister in America, Rev. Robert Hunt, who arrived in 1607 and died within a year of arriving, and Capt. Gabriel Archer who hated Capt. John Smith. The other two skeletons are of men who arrived in the [fourth] 1610 expedition including: Sir Ferdinando Wainman who died shortly are arrival, becoming the first knight buried in the new world, and his relative, Capt. William West, who was later killed by Indians. Both West and Wainman were buried in coffins that shaped like they have heads (very odd). The minister was buried in a shroud.

Tests on the skeletons showed they were all English, had diets high in protein, meaning they had money, and had elevated levels of lead. The richer you were, the more pewter you had, the more lead exposure you suffered. Wainman and West had very high levels of lead in their bones. Very interesting.

Also, even more intriguing, a sealed silver box with an "M" on it was found in Capt. Archer's grave. Scientists could not open it. Scientists used a CT scan to determine that there were bone shards and a broken vial inside that may once have held holy water or oil. Are these the bones of a deceased loved one or a "saint"? Fascinating.

Excavations are happening now with new urgency due to rising sea levels which scientists believed will eventually cover the site entirely.

Read more about it here in the news http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33680128
or  from the Historic Jametowne website http://historicjamestowne.org/archaeology/dig-updates/

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