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tv   [untitled]    May 31, 2012 10:00pm-10:30pm EDT

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ships during that time period? >> it's -- well, to my experience it's scattered in the records. there's no comprehensive list that i know of. >> they're not complete either. yeah. there are some passenger lists. but unfortunately, no one's compiled it all. >> yeah, it wouldn't have survived. >> one more comment here. a question from lisa in sacramento, california. hey. >> caller: hi. i had heard that john rolf was the one responsible for bringing tobacco growing in virginia. and i was just wondering if that was true or not. thanks. >> yes. in fact, we believe that he was inspired by the time he was ship wrekd wreked in bermuda, which occurred between 1609 and 1610. he spent ten months in bermuda. where they found tobacco growing when they shipwrecked there.
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so it seems to me and others as well that he spent that time working with the tobacco. we also found a couple of tobacco pipes made out of bermuda limestone that were probably made to smoke john rolf's tobacco on bermuda. and then, you know, he continued his work once he arrived here. we even found a tobacco seed down a well. which is pretty cool because they're microscopic. they're very hard to see. >> well, we want to thank both of you. bly straube, senior curator, and bill kelso, the director of the jamestown rediscovery archaeological project, for spending the last hour and more with american history tv and taking our viewers' and callers' comments. we really appreciate it. >> thank you. >> we did too. >> thanks. on may 14th, 1607, 104 english settlers landed at jamestown island, virginia to establish a college nu for the virginia company. the location served as the capital of virginia until 1699. thought to be lost to history
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forever under the james river, the original fort was unearthed in 1994 by the jamestown rediscovery archaeological project. we visited jamestown to learn how the story of the 1607 settlers is being revealed every day through the study of artifacts. >> my name is bly straube. i'm a senior curator for the jamestown rediscovery project. and that's a project that started in 1994. it's a project of preservation virginia. the first statewide historic preservation organization in the united states. it is confuse iing that there a so many jamestowns. and many people visit jamestown, and it turns out that they never went to the real place, the place where all the history happened. so there's a jamestown that's a living history museum, jamestown settlement, and they interpret jamestown, and they have three wonderful ships. and they've reconstructed a fort
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and an indian village. and they have a huge museum over there. that is a state-run organization. so they get state funding for that. then the island itself, the original site of jamestown, is co-managed by the national park service and preservation virginia. so it's an unusual private-public partnership that goes on here. the park service owns the majority of the island, 1,500 acres. preservation virginia has around 23. but their 23 acres incorporates the site of the original fort. the church. the church tower. and the last government building that was on the property. so they've got a lot of history condensed in that 23 acres. and it's the -- it's preservation virginia then who are doing the archaeology that visitors will see on the site today.
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we call our project jamestown rediscovery. so we're the jamestown rediscovery project of preservation virginia. we do not get federal support and we do not get state support for our work. so we're highly reliant on donatio donations. visitors coming because we get half of the gate receipts on visitors coming through. and grants. and that's how we survive. and it's hard in these times. this site is incredibly rich. it's just amazing. and we've been walking over the material all these years. it's been under our feet. when everyone was saying the fort was out in the river. i mean, it's just astounding that there's so much material. and i thought about why. for one thing there was so much death in the early years and sickness. and i think a lot of things just got thrown away because they
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didn't belong to people. they sort of were objects, possessions without a possessor. and they just -- and people just didn't have the strength or willpower to do much of anything. we find a lot of like lead thrown away that could have been remelted and reused, recycled. and it wasn't. just tossed out. i think that's one reason. i think the fort itself, being a protective barrier, maintained a lot of trash within its perimeter. there didn't seem to be any orchestrated efforts to wheelbarrow the trash out and toss it in the river or anything. it just seems to have collected inside the fort. and then there were periodic cleanup periods and rebuilding efforts when new governors came in, for instance. and then things would get dumped into old wells or old holes to fill them in. so i think that also contributed to it. but yeah, it's a wonderful,
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wonderful site. we have ceramics from all over the world. and this is really reflecting how cosmopolitan london is in the early 17th century and how connected it was to the rest of the world. to the merchants of the world. the hensiotic league. it's not representing these different countries trading direct directly with jamestown. some of the objects are personal possessions. and a lot of our gentlemen would have access to these exotic wares from other places. even though they were coming to settle a very uninhabited and lonely place, unconnected with any society really, they were bringing their best materials to eat from and to drink from. we've got facon de venice glass
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and chinese porcelain. you can see some of that porcelain that they're bringing. so it's really a different picture of jamestown than one would expect. it's rather wealthy in some regards. colorful. we've got professions like jewelers sitting in the fort and making jewelry. i mean, not all was death and dying and killing indians. we find a lot of their leisure time activities. lots and lots of gaming dice. and chess pieces and backgammon pieces. musical instruments. so it's from all sort of facets of their life being reflected here. people visiting historic jamestown have the opportunity to come in and look up close at the artifacts. they have to sign up. it's called a curator's tour.
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and we give them the whole orientation, what we do with artifacts behind closed doors. so it's a unique opportunity to get an up close look. and they can ask questions. they can even at times touch 400-year-old artifacts. you know, things that john smith may have used. so i think it's a pretty enriching experience for visitors. we only bring ten people through at a time, keep the group really small, so that it's a better experience for everybody. the park itself, once you come through the gate, you can wander the entire grounds. you can see the archaeology going on. we have a museum on site. it's called the archierium. and it is full of about 1,000 artifacts all the from the ex a excavatio excavations. everything you see in there is from excavations we've been doing since 1984. it's a unique place. there aren't that many archaeological museums in existence.
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that's free as well. you can sign up for a special tour if you like with our director, dr. william kelso, and that's called the in the trenches tour. that's a little extra. and he takes you under the ropes. so you get an up close and personal look from his perspective. >> how could something so precious in american history and virginia history have been sort of lost for hundreds of years? >> that's an interesting question. i think it wasn't lost for probably the first 100. but nobody mentioned -- you know, they didn't talk about it. at least any documents that survived. we don't know if it's in there. and then there were travelers that came in here. it was a tremendous erosion on the west end of the island. and they said i can see remains of the fort being washed into the river. i read that about a week before i started. i went, oh, no. so then it became just the story agreed upon. and i think then there was also a confederate earthwork here.
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a large earthen mound was all over most of what we found, the fort site. not right here but very close. and so there was no clue in the landscape that this was anything but this civil war fort. on a site like this there are periods and eras and time changes. this is -- was built in the civil war fort as a bombproof or a bomb shelter for the confederate troops. confederate forces built this fort as a good position on the river to set up their big guns to stop the union from coming up the river. and they built things where they could hunker down in case they were shelled. and what you're seeing here, if you look closely, there's some wood even surviving. this was built as a below-ground wood room.
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and then on top they mounded, and we've taken that off, but they've mounded at least six feet of clay. so that that would absorb the impact of shells coming. so it would be bombproof. this is only about a third of it. it goes all the way back. you can see there's a hilltop beyond that black plastic, and then there's a profile through another part of a room. the reason we ex-cavated this i this is the 150th anniversary of the civil war. so it also gives a perspective of the jamestown period. you know, it's just not one 1607 period here. it's all of these different components. and so we've learned something about the civil war for it. but we also learned about -- if you come around over to here, i'll try ton get in your way. wait. just stand right here just for a second. i'm going to be right back.
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so this is a great example of a fort on a fort. this dark area is the palisade line from 1607 that we found everywhere, all the way around. we found it in the first year down along the river. and it's just darker soil. i think you can see there's dark soil here, and there's even some darker circular impressions where the upright logs had disintegrated. and we've traced that from the river all the way up to here. this is a reconstruction-ish that doesn't go deep enough to expose this layer. you can't see it in profile. it only goes down to about here. and you see it's a little off. and we did that on purpose because we didn't want to disturb any of the remains that we have not dug. a lot of times we'll just uncover these what we call
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features and map them for the future and then cover back up. we don't even dig them. we don't have to. so we know that the line was here anyway. but it's good -- this gives you an example of this layer. then when the bombproof was -- when this room was put in, it cuts through. this is gone. from here till you get to the other side. then it picks up again. so fort on a fort, that's the archaeological process. you have to look at these different discolorations and evidence and then get a time sequence by what layer cuts through or disturbs another layer. so you go back in time. the latest disturbance is the latest thing and on down. >> my name is don warmke. i'm one of the archaeologists on staff here. but i do do some conservation in the lab. basically, we're out there from around the beginning of april through the end of november. we usually are inside like from december through march. once the field season is done,
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you have all the artifacts that we found during the course of the year that have to be processed. you have the reports to write up. you have things to catalog. we can't always be digging. and then you also have to research the items that you found for any reports that you might have as far as new discoveries. so i spend like 3 1/2 days out in the field and about a day and a half in the lab. >> what are some of the most exciting days or finds that you've had? >> i've been here a little over seven years. so there have been a number of things i've found. but just like last week i was digging -- you're familiar with a cortiguard? it's one of the post holes there. the post hole, when i was digging it out, i actually locate located a -- what you would call a petrie dish inside the post
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hole. it was a glass dish about this large and about an inch, inch and a half deep. and it was totally intact. it was one of the only -- i think we had five or six totally intact objects from the site. so it was kind of an exciting find. basically, i'd told a couple people who i thought i had found out there and everybody came out to the site and had kind of a large audience of visitors there. so everybody was around the site as it was taken out, and naturally staff's telling me don't break it, don't break it. >> was that a real concern, breaking it? >> well, initially, when i found it, like i said, it was sitting in the post hole. and i was uncovering it from the surface. so you could only see the rim. and i thought initially it was probably a piece of copper. copper waist strip.
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it was only when i had dug this around the side of it it had a depth to it and i realized it was glass. so yeah, i had to be a little bit more careful than -- but it turned out it was a pretty cool piece. >> you heard about the find of this little glass tray. this is really, really exciting. for one thing it's complete. and it's glass. how amazing is that? that it survived 400 years. it would have been clear. you can't see that now because of all the corrosion. but you can just see it a little bit through there. so this came back into the lab, and i did a little research on it. and though i have not found any parallels from other archaeological excavations, i do believe what we have is a fort -- a 17th century rendition of a petri dish. so if you look right here you can see one. a little glass dish being used
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to collect something that's being pressed in an alchemal lab where they're doing chemical processing. and this is dating to the late 16th century. you know, they were testing all kinds of materials to try to make a profit for the investors. so this may have been involved with perhaps the medical group who were here looking for plants that could turn into medicines. and to do that you're pounding and mashing and distilling all kinds of leaves and nuts and anything you can get your hands on. roots. and you could easily, you know, make samples into little dishes like this. we would call this a petri dish today. but julius petri is a 19th century german scientist. this is a little before his time. and on the tables here you can see a lot of native pottery. i am 2349 process of trying to mend those together.
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with native pottery it's a bit more difficult with them with other wares because the colors don't change too much. so this is the typical native pattern of our indians. it's called simple stamping. so it's a leather wrapped paddle that they're hitting the sides with. sometimes then they smooth that pattern out. so that's a base. a pot there. you can see everything gets numbered. all the little pieces get numbered with the area of the fort where they were found. and that's one of the processes we do in the lab. and we keep track of those numbers because if one feature should mend to another across the site, that's a very important thing to note. if things from the well mend with things from the ditch. then that means that both those features were open at the same
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time. so that's an important step. it's called cross-mending. >> hi. i'm mary outlaw. welcome to the laboratory of the jamestown rediscovery archaeological project. the artifacts come in from the field and are stored out here in systematic order until we can process them in our wet laboratory. come on in. this is where we process artifacts. as they come in from the field. we use just basic tools from our local hardware store. colanders and washing tubs. and a variety of brushes including toothbrushes, fingernail brushes, and vegetable brushes. and we use dissecting needles for cleaning out the holes in pipe stems.
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a typical artifact tray looks like this and includes material from one layer and one feature on the site. and these are some of the typical artifacts that we find ark yo logically. we find coal. a lot of clinkers from the blooming process, ironmaking process that occurred here at jamestown in the early 1600s. lots of iron that comes in heavily corroded with iron outsides. very difficult to identify at this stage. all different kinds of ceramics, including clay pipes that were made in england, in europe, and also locally. a variety of ceramics from all over the world including delft
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wares, earthen wares. this is from north devon, england. this little delft ware jar is probably from england or the netherlands. and we find bricks. architectural bricks. a little bit of copper. now, this copper was brought in for trade with the indians. and we find tons of scrap copper from our archaeological features out here because they brought so much with them. and this is all scrap. all waste from the early 1600s. and here we have a little bone knife handle. this is the kind of little knife you would see on the side of a plate with a peeled piece of
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fru fruit. the artifacts are placed in these racks. this is a scoop from a sturgeon. a sturgeon is a fish that spawned in the james river. and they were prolific in the 17th century. when they spawned, they were about nine to ten years old or older. and at that age, which was the adult age of a sturgeon, they provided about 600 pounds of meat. they're about nine or ten feet long. we also find quite a bit of
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limestone from bermuda that was used in the ships from bermuda as ballast. and when it arrived at the island it was used architectu l architecturally. and oyster shell is another commonly found material at jamestown. of course they ate these oysters. and subsequently used the oysters to produce lime for mortar and plaster. let's go on into our processing laboratory, our dry processing laboratory. here i am sorting artifacts from the john smith well. and these few ceramic shards are from one of the upper layers of the well. john smith in 1608 ordered the
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colonists to dig a well. and in 1610 that well was filled in as the colonists left jamestown, had hoped to go back to england. but they were met by a longboat in the chesapeake bay. and ordered to turn around. the longboat belonged to lord delaware and announced his arrival. so all the colonists came back and reoccupied james fort. these ceramics were made in the period from about 1619 until about 1625. they were made by thomas ward. he came to jamestown in 1619. we have historical documentation
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for that. and his kiln site was found here in the 1950s by john kotter on the national park service property. and these are some of his products that i'm trying to do minimum object counts. i do shard counts. that is, i count all the fragments of p r this pottery type and i also do minimum object counts. and i do that by isolating rooms and bases that belong together. and i can tell from looking at these the different vessels that are represented in this layer from the well. it's layer d. we've got milk pans represented and a jug here. with a nice little spread foot. turned up on the edge there.
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very well made. a little drinking cup here. very thin. his fabric is identifiable because it is chalky and buff colored. it's james river clay. you can see there's quite a bit of variety in the colors of the glazes and that's just dependent upon the kiln conditions. a typical day here at jamestown consists of sorting and identifying objects and entering them into our database, which is jamestown rediscovery. it was developed for us specifically here at jamestown. to date we've catalogued over a million and a half. we probably have about that many to go that need to be catalogued. >> if a scholar is working on
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this material, what do they do? what's their process? >> well, it is by case-by-case basis. it's not just open to anyone. and it's usually happening at the graduate or post-graduate level. but they would contact us or give us their research plan, what they intend to do. because we are in the middle of a full-scale excavation. so the main priority is caring for the artifacts as they come in. keeping track of them. keeping them cataloged. we can't do everything. we can't just open the doors and let everybody in because we're just in the middle of all this work. it's possible but it's not that frequent at this point because we're still processing the material. that's an interesting piece. a pistol that -- who knows where it's from.
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it's from somewhere on the preservation virginia property. it was kept in the national park service collections because we didn't have a collections area before our archaeological project got started. and it looks like it's been through a fire. it's burned. i believe it's early 19th century. it's still -- the cock still has a flint in the jaws. it's really kind of interesting. but i wish i knew where on the island and where on the preservation virginia property it was found. and it could have been turned in the early 20th century. the national park service maintains their own collections from jamestown, and for 2007 one of the legacies we decided to leave rather than another monument on the landscape was to
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join the collections to some extent. so a new facility was built adjoining our building. we've made sort of a campus. and while the collections are kept separately, they are in one spot. so someone coming to see a particular material type, they're doing research, it's more convenient and easier for them. they can go to both collections to do their work. hopefully, we will survive into the future. i mean, we've organized the materials and built the structures to be permanent archives. and i would hope that 400 years in the future there is a jamestown collection that's capable of being studied and examined by scholars of the future. i look back 400 years and think, well, how many collections have survived? and i do worry about that. but there arein


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