This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Friday, August 08, 2008

Jamestown Settlement & 2008 Excavation

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

While I usually write about the Carolinas, sometimes I enjoy writing about other historical places I've visited outside the Carolinas. This summer we spent part of our vacation in Jamestown, Virginia, the site of the first permanent settlement in America. In 2007, they celebrated their 400th anniversary.

While we were there, we got a chance to see archaeologists excavate part of the site. It was unique to see how they uncover history and discover all the secrets of the past. I was able to talk to some of the experts and volunteers working on the site and asked questions. The photo to the left shows two guys digging in different square sections. The first square section is deeper and it is part of the original fort that was built here in 1607. The other square section that is further back in the photo is where they have uncovered a layer of a Civil War fort built here on top of the original colonial fort. The Civil War took place between 1861-1865, more than two hundred years later. The site is located right on the bank of the James River and was a major passage way to the Confederate capital, which was then Richmond, VA.

On the other side of where they're digging they've uncovered several graves of the colonists from the 1600's. Small rocks have been placed on top of the graves and a thin wooden cross marks each grave. In order to uncover these burials, they first had to excavate the Civil War fort that was also built on top of these graves. They had no idea that people were actually buried inside the original fort. One would think that the colonists would have chosen a burial site. Here's the story of why...

Those that survived suffered through what became known as the "Starving Time" of 1609-1610. Severe drought hit and crops withered. The area was a marshland, a breeding ground for mosquitoes. They endured dyssentry and salt poisoning. And they were starving. Reduced to eating rodents, starch, and some sources say, even each other after they passed away, the English colonists were so desperate than some dug their own graves and waited to die. During this time, their relationship with the nearby Indians was very poor. Many didn't leave the fort for fear of being attacked and killed. Those who did venture past the fort, never made it back. So when they began dying, survivors buried the dead right inside the fort. The brick "I" in the photo to the left represents a fireplace.

This last photo to the left is of my daughter and I sitting at the base of a statue of Pocohontas. I have always been fascinated by the story of this Indian princess. When I was about my daughter's age, my parents brought me here, but somehow, I remember the statue being so much larger than it was when I returned years later. I find it interesting how different my perspective was from reality.

If you would like to learn more about the Jamestown Settlement of Virginia, visit