Things to Do in Williamsburg, VA: Historic Jamestowne
Jamestown Rediscovery is an excavation project turned cultural attraction in Jamestown Island, Virginia. The project is run by Preservation Virginia and concentrates on archeological digs and excavations within the Jamestown Historic Cultural Site. The site is thought to be the birthplace of the United States, when English settlers landed on the shores in 1607, thus beginning the first English settlement in North America. History shows the settlers quickly began to build defenses against the native Virginia tribes, with the remains of James Fort revealing a large amount of information about the cultures that lived in the vicinity at that time. With its rich cultural history, Jamestown was the natural place for archaeologists to explore and so the birth of Jamestown Rediscovery in Historic Jamestowne began.
The project was originally planned to be a 10-year excavation beginning in 1994, but due to the success of the excavations and the need to display these findings, purpose-built buildings were created to house the artifacts and inform the public about their significance. The site now contains a museum known as the Archaearium, a visitor center, the Dale House Cafe, a 17th-century ruin of a brick tower, the Memorial Church, and a gift shop. Live talks and excavations on site are undertaken by archeologists, who show their findings to the audience. Optional tours are offered, where park rangers take visitors on a walk around the site, highlighting significant places, people, and moments through 400 years of Jamestown history. Photo: Zack Frank/Fotolia
The Visitor Centre
The Historic Jamestowne Visitor Center displays over 1,000 artifacts, representing just a fraction of what has been discovered since 1930 by the National Park Service archaeologists. The exhibit galleries document the prehistoric origins of Jamestown from 15,000 years ago up to modern times. The exhibit pays particular attention to revealing more information about the crucial cultures of the European, Virginia Native American, and African people before their merging at Jamestown.
The Nathalie P. & Alan M. Voorhees Archaearium is the site’s museum and holds over 4,000 artifacts. The 7,500-square foot space provides a vital backstory to the formative period of 1607–1624, when the settlers arrived and established themselves in Jamestown. The artifacts represent the story of the settlers and come in the form of religious objects, trade goods, arms and armor, tools, coins, personal items, and many other interesting objects. In-depth information and photographs as well as 3D reconstructions of how the artifacts were discovered enables visitors to experience the discoveries as if they were there in person. Within the museum is a reconstruction of a mud and stud building, which is an example of the architecture of early Jamestown.
Within the Archaearium is a room known as Jane’s Room, which focuses on the unfolding of the harsh winter of 1609–1610 when attacks by Native Americans as well as starvation and disease saw the colonists barely survive in treacherous conditions.
The World of Pocahontas, Unearthed
The World of Pocahontas, Unearthed is an exhibition dedicated to honoring the Virginia Native Peoples and their story alongside the English settlers. The artifacts found at James Fort over the years have shed light on the life of Chesapeake’s Native People. The artifacts on display reveal that the English and Powhatans had more interactions than first thought. Evidence from the discovery of native pots suggests that during the harsh winter, the Powhatan Chiefdom may have traded or bartered with the English for meat and corn carried within these vessels. Photo: Zack Frank/Fotolia
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»Ongoing Programs & Education
Jamestown Rediscovery provides educators with lesson plans concentrating on the English settlers as well as “Dig Update” videos for students, which show archaeological methods and any new discoveries found on site. Online assignments, posters, and fun activities are also accessible from the site. At Jamestown Rediscovery, students can attend pre-booked tours such as “Archaeology in Action” for third to fifth graders and “Finds and Forensics” for middle school and high school students. Educators at the site arrange custom tours for adults, but those already running are the In the Trenches Tour with Dr. William Kelso, the Director of the Jamestown Rediscovery archaeology team, and the Curator's Artifact Tour.
For younger visitors and their families, Ed Shed is a space for archeological discovery and tactile activities, where children can follow the clues from the Jamestown Adventure Booklet series and get their hands dirty trying out some of the exciting activities on offer here.
Back to: Williamsburg, VA
Address: 1368 Colonial Pkwy, Jamestown, VA 23081, Phone: 757-856-1250 Photo: Zack Frank/Fotolia
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Things to Do in Williamsburg, VA: Historic Jamestowne
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