Thursday, September 29, 2022

Jamestown Archaeologists to Start Digging for 2015, Host Opening Day Celebration

Preservation Virginia Assistant Manager of Public and Educational Programs Jeff Aronowitz gives a tour to a group gathered at a dig site located outside the walls of James Fort as Staff Archaeologist Mary Anna Richardson works to excavate dirt. (Gregory Connolly/WYDaily)
Preservation Virginia Assistant Manager of Public and Educational Programs Jeff Aronowitz gives a tour to a group gathered at a dig site located outside the walls of James Fort as Staff Archaeologist Mary Anna Richardson works to excavate dirt. (Gregory Connolly/WYDaily)

Live archaeology digs at the site of the former James Fort on Jamestown Island will resume for the 22nd year Saturday, with a day of family-friendly activities scheduled to celebrate the occasion.

Archaeologists from Preservation Virginia have been digging at the site — located along the shores of the James River — since 1994. Since the Jamestown Rediscovery project began, more than 2 million artifacts have been discovered at the site where the first permanent English settlers in the area built a fort.

Their work has also led to the discovery that some of the first settlers likely turned to cannibalism. Last year, the team discovered the fort’s walls expanded, causing its distinct triangular shape to become a lopsided pentagon. The fort eventually became the settlement of Jamestown, which served as the capital of the Virginia colony from 1616 to 1699.

“[We] are excited to continue learning about the expansion of James Fort which encompassed a much larger area than we originally thought,” Jamestown Rediscovery Senior Archaeologist Danny Schmidt said in a news release announcing the resumption of digging.

WYDaily began a feature last year featuring regular updates of the Jamestown Rediscovery project, detailing the discovery of the expanded fort, the use of 3-D printing to re-create artifacts and a project to learn more about metal book parts found in the dirt.

Events will be held all day Saturday to celebrate the new digging season:

  • Walking tours will be held at 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. of the original fort site.
  • Blacksmiths will show off iron smelting, a trade practiced in the earliest days of the fort.
  • Local conservators will explain how artifacts are removed from the ground and then prepared for display in the Archaerium, a museum on the island showcasing what the team has found. Participants can help archaeologists sift through excavated materials to find animal bones, shells and seeds.
  • Children can explore archaeology hands-on with a digging activity from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The event is included for free with a $14 paid admission to Historic Jamestowne. Interagency passes and Preservation Virginia memberships are accepted in lieu of payment, however a $5 fee may apply. Children under 16 get in for free.

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