New Dig to Start at Jamestown Burial Site Might Aid 'Starving Time' Study

Article excerpt

JAMESTOWN, Va. -- The winter of 1609-1610 is known as the "Starving Time," when only one out of every four colonists at Jamestown survived hunger, disease and Indian attacks.

Archaeologists this summer will begin excavating an unmarked burial ground to try to learn more about that winter -- and the early, often desperate years of America's first permanent English settlement.

The project will help expand the limited knowledge of the beginnings of the country, Roxane Gilmore, Virginia's first lady, said at a news conference yesterday at the dig site.

"Seventeenth-century America is basically a lost century," said Gilmore, honorary chairwoman of the planned commemoration in 2007 of the 400th anniversary of Jamestown's founding.

Jamestown began as a business venture with the landing of three ships with 100 men and four boys on a small island near the mouth of the James River. The first representative government in America was established in Jamestown in 1619, and Jamestown was the capital of Virginia until 1699.

The burial site to be studied is near the foundation of a large building that was used as a statehouse from the 1640s until 1699.

In the mid-1950s, archaeologists discovered a cemetery at the site, 200 yards from the original 1607 James Fort. Of the estimated 300 graves there, researchers will excavate and study about 50, said William Kelso, who is directing the archaeological work at Jamestown.

Researchers also will study the foundation to determine what the building looked like, Kelso said. …


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