Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Jamestown revealed: History comes alive

By The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

AUG. 1, 2015 — Scientific discoveries about the New World’s first permanent English settlement four centuries ago make hitherto obscure colonists remarkably easy to relate to as flesh-and-blood human beings.

National Museum of Natural History and Jamestown Recovery Foundation researchers investigating Fort James, part of the 1607 Jamestown settlement in Virginia, have identified four men buried at the site of the Americas’ first Protestant church, built in 1608. Archeological work, genealogical and archival records and high-tech forensics provided clues to their identities, what times of year they were buried and what they ate and drank, The New York Times reports.

They were the Rev. Robert Hunt, likely the Americas’ first Anglican minister; Capt. Gabriel Archer, early leader of the expedition and a casualty of Jamestown’s 1609-10 “Starving Time” winter; and two relatives of Virginia Gov. Sir Thomas West — Sir Ferdinando Wainman, likely the first English knight buried in the New World, and Capt. William West, killed by Powhatan Indians.

The researchers also say a silver Roman Catholic reliquary box buried with Capt. Archer might indicate covert Catholicism within the Anglican settlement, thus, rewriting early American religious history.

We now know these men as individuals — not just names in history books — and more about ourselves and our nation, thanks to the scientific curiosity and ingenuity that enabled these discoveries.

By The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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