Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Ten Questions with David Givens, Jamestown Archaeologist

David Givens (Jamestown Rediscovery)

HISTORIC TRIANGLE — “Ten Questions with” is a series that allows readers to get to know local business leaders, volunteers and community members in the Historic Triangle.

This week, meet David Givens.

What is your job title and description?

I am the Director of Archaeology, and I oversee the excavations of James Fort, the first permanent English settlement in North America at Historic Jamestowne. It’s a fantastic job; we have folks from all over the world visiting the site, and hosting them in our “home” is an honor.

Who do you interact/work with regularly?

Jamestown is a year-round public archaeology site. We convey the “moment of discovery” to our passionate and curious visitors from around the world. We also have a Summer Field Institute through the University of Virginia and a Kinds Camp (8- to 12-year-olds) in the summer.

How do you/your organization interact with the local community?

We can often be found giving talks around the Historic Triangle, and many of our volunteers are community members who interpret to the public on-site.

What is something about your job most people wouldn’t know about?

Archaeology is a multi-disciplinary job requiring not only digging in the dirt but also knowledge of artifacts spanning centuries, public speaking skills, writing, surveying, engineering, and computer science, to name a few. It’s a challenging job, but that is why many of us are at Jamestown.

2023 Bioarchaeology Project: The Jamestown Rediscovery archaeology team works on the 1607 Burial Ground.

How do you define success?

Many years ago, I decided that it’s best to challenge oneself to be better than you were last year rather than aspire to be better than someone else. That’s a high bar, and that’s how I lead the archaeology team.

What is your most successful accomplishment to date?

Balancing a career, my family, and raising two amazing kids has been an accomplishment for sure! For work, I would say keeping the team at the forefront of the application of technology in the work we do has been very invigorating and rewarding.

How long have you lived/worked in the Historic Triangle?

I started working in the area in 1993 and moved here shortly after. My first site in Williamsburg was on Governor’s Land, working on a Virginia Indian site that is now the 18th fairway of the golf course. Governor’s Land, James City County, archaeologists, and the community felt that that site was important and that it needed to be studied and some portions preserved in place. Very forward-thinking for our community.

What is your favorite part of being in the Historic Triangle?

I love that we are only a few hours from the beach, the mountains (and skiing!), Washington D.C., and a whole host of unparalleled, natural and historic sites. With William & Mary, the military bases and families, and curious visitors from around the world, the Historic Triangle is a great place to raise a family and enjoy our community.

What do you do for downtime/to relax?

My wife and our family live on a small farm in James City County. It’s everything to keep up with gardening, taking care of the place, and enjoying rural life only minutes from everything you need!

What is the next step in your journey?

I get this question from visitors quite a bit, and I have given this quite a bit of thought as I head toward my retirement years. My answer is always simple: I hope to volunteer at Jamestown someday to let people know about the journey we have taken to find the once-lost Jamestown.

Do you want to learn more about your community and the people that live and work in the Historic Triangle? We are looking for people with interesting jobs, super volunteers, or community leaders to showcase. Reach out to let us know if you (or someone you know) would like to be considered for Ten Questions.

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