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Jamestown Rediscovered

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1 Jamestown Rediscovered

2 Bandolier Cylinder Twelve of these iron cylinders would have hung from a leather belt worn over the shoulder. Each would have contained enough gunpowder for one charge.

3 Iron Shot Twenty-two pieces of solid iron shot for small artillery have been excavated from James Fort. The most common have been 1 lb balls for a cannon known as a falconet and balls weighing around 2 lbs for a falcon.

4 Halberd This is an element from a ceremonial staff weapon that was used to indicate rank or to escort important people. The halberd originated as a staff weapon of the foot soldier, combining the advantages of the spear and the axe. By the early 17th century, halberds were carried by sergeants as a sign of rank and to signal commands to their companies. The 1612 martial laws for the Jamestown colony required the sergeants to carry halberds for garrison duty but to abandon them in favor of firearms in the field. Halberdiers were employed at Jamestown in 1610 as special guards to Governor De La Warre, who embraced the pomp and ceremony of this office in his efforts to rediscipline and revitalize the flagging colony. The iron halberd head from James Fort was found in the ca fill of Structure 165's cellar and may be one of the weapons of De La Warre's halberdiers.


6 A Bullet Bag This is a frame from a bullet bag. It has a spring-release mechanism for swift removal of the bag from the soldier's belt.

7 Snaphaunce Pistol This Lowland Scottish firearm was probably a gentleman's personal weapon

8 Matchlock Musket Rest Mounted on a long wooden staff, this U-shaped rest would help support and steady the heavy matchlock muskets.

9 Worm This tool, known as a worm, is a special tool for cleaning a firearm. It has screw threads on one end and a corkscrew head with a double twist. It would have been used to pull out wet powder as well as the paper wadding used to keep the lead ball and powder in the barrel.

10 Scourer The scourer is an accouterment for cleaning a firearm. The head is divided into three blades. The central one would have a cloth wrapped around it to wipe out the interior of the gun barrel, while the two angle exterior blades were for scraping.

11 Bullet This scissor-like instrument was used to make lead bullets. Twenty-four bullet molds have been recovered from the site.

12 Lead Shot and Bullets Over 5,500 pieces of lead shot and bullets have been excavated from James Fort. Individual molds would have been used to make the bullets, which measure over 10 mm in diameter. The small shot was produced in two ways. One method was in a gang mold, which, as the name suggests, can cast a number of shot at one time, and usually in varying sizes. The mold seams and by the many shot still attached to runners of lead created in the molding process. The other method of producing shot was by pouring molten led through a copper strainer into a pail of water.

13 Pike Heads The pike is a pole arm of about 16 to 18 feet in length with a small bladed head. The pike was the most effective defense against cavalry charges and the pike men who wielded the weapon had a special role in protecting the musketeers while they were reloading their weapons. The pike was not especially useful to the Jamestown colonists since mounted soldiers did not confront them and their principal engagements were skirmishes with the Indians.

14 Mail Mail is a protective metal fabric made of interlocking rings. By the 16th century, mail was primarily used to protect areas that were hard to cover with plate armor, such as the armpits and groin.

15 Buckler This is a dome-shaped central boss from a small leather hand-held shield known as a buckler. It was found in the Bulwark Trench of James Fort. Sword and buckler fighting was no longer practiced in England at the time of the Jamestown settlement. The colonists probably found the buckler useful in the type of hand-to-hand fighting they found themselves engaged in with the Indians.

16 Sword Hanger Swords were suspended in a series of straps called a hanger, which hung from the sword belt by a series of buckles and hooks. One hundred and nine sword hangers have been excavated from the fort so far.

17 Sword Belt Buckle This buckle from a transitional layer of Pit 1 was once part of a sword belt. The loop is for the attachment of a sword hanger to suspend the sword.

18 Scabbard Chape A scabbard is a leather sheath with protects a sword when not in use. The chape fits at the bottom to prevent the sword point from poking through.

19 Burgonet Helmet This is a cheek piece from a light helmet known as a burgonet. The holes are for ventilation.

20 Back Plate This piece of plate armor from Pit 1 is from the right back bottom section of a back plate. The two iron rivets (one with a brass rosette washer) are to anchor the waist straps.

21 Cowter A cowter is armor used for elbow protection. This element came from Pit 1.

22 Cabasset Helmet and Breastplate
This is the first intact helmet that has been excavated on Jamestown Island. It is a type of light headgear used in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Breastplate Armor reflects the style of clothing worn by men. This rounded high-waisted breastplate is the type that was made in the 15th and early 16th centuries. By the time of Jamestown's settlement, breastplates in Europe were worn by pikemen and the cavalry but not by musketeers


24 Sturgeon Plates These are bony plates known as scutes, which line the bodies of sturgeon. Over 21,000 sturgeon scutes have been recovered from James Fort. A sturgeon may live up to 60 years, weigh up to 800 pounds and reach lengths of up to 15 feet. Sturgeon are anadromous fish, leaving salty waters to spawn. The Jamestown colonists report that the sturgeon were plentiful in the James River from May until September.

25 Turtle The early settlers often consumed box turtles as food. Colonist William Strachey, who was at Jamestown between 1610 and 1611, says " the land tortoises we take and eate daily."

26 Knife Blade This iron knife blade from Ditch 7, filled in the second quarter of the 17th century, is one of nine that have been found during the excavations. Food was customarily eaten using knives, spoons, and hands in the 17th century. The fork was not in common use until the 18th century.

27 Quarrel A quarrel is the tip of a crossbow arrow, or bolt. This crown-point type of quarrel Pit 1 is for hunting. The quarrel is designed to batter and stun the animal and not to penetrate the skin or damage the fur, which is marketable

28 Fish Hook Seventy-six brass and iron fishhooks, of all sizes, have been excavated at Jamestown. Settlers used fishhooks to catch fish such as perch, sheepshead, striped bass, channel pickerel, and catfish from the James River. Nets with lead sinkers would have been used to trap the sturgeon.

29 Horse Bridle Bit This elaborate snaffle bit from Pit 3 has a port and rollers, which are elements used to control a high-strung animal such as a battle stallion. Only gentlemen would have horses in the colony during the first few years. When John Smith left for England in the fall of 1609 there were "six Mares and a Horse" at Jamestown. They were eaten by the colonists that winter during the Starving Time.

30 Spur Rowel This copper alloy spur rowel from the plow zone had been silvered, indicating that it is from an expensive pair of spurs. Spurs were status symbols and were part of a gentleman's attire whether he was riding or not.

31 Bodkin Women wore bodkins as hair decoration in the early 17th century. The first women came to Jamestown in October1608. Three silver and four copper alloy bodkins have been excavated from the site thus far. Some have initials etched into them, probably representing their owners' names. This decorative silver bodkin was found in plowzone and has been bent out of shape.

32 Candlestick Once the sun had set at Jamestown, artificial light would be needed in order to see. Most of the men probably had to rely on light from the campfires or, if lucky, hearth fires. The gentlemen would have been able to afford candles made of beeswax and tallow, which would have given them their own private source of light for reading or writing.

33 Curtain Ring Beds were very expensive and only a gentleman would have ranked a bedstead at Jamestown. Brass rings held curtains around the bed to protect the sleeper against drafts.

34 Keyhole Escutcheon This ornamental plate from Pit 1 would have surrounded the keyhole on a piece of furniture that arrived in the fort by 1610.

35 Key This iron key found in plowzone would work a rotary lock. The shank is hollow indicating that it probably opened a chest or small box.

36 English Coins Coins are among the few artifacts recovered which actually have a date on them. But the archaeologists must be careful because coins can be used for long periods of time. This was especially true in colonial Virginia where there was a shortage of small change and even foreign currency was accepted. Many of the English silver coins found at the site had been clipped to make change. This English sixpence dated 1602

37 Irish Coins These copper pennies and halfpennies were minted in England between 1601 and 1602. They were made for use in Ireland and did not have wide circulation in England. Twenty-five Irish coins have been found during the course of excavation. It has been suggested that they found their way to Virginia in the pockets of individuals who had either seen military service in Ireland or had been involved with the English settlement of Ireland in the early 17th century. It is much more likely that these coins helped satisfy the colonists' need for small change. Also, these practically worthless copper objects would have been valuable items for the Indian trade.

38 Scuppet This is an entrenching tool, used to build the defensive structures.

39 Broad Axe Axes and hatchets for felling timber and working it into useful pieces of wood were indispensable to the first colonists. The broad axe has a broad flaring blade more appropriate for hewing.

40 Funnel This iron funnel from Ditch 1 may have been part of a food mill, used to grind grains. A "funnell" is also listed among the necessary equipment for a surgeon's chest by London surgeon John Woodall, who sent a fully equipped chest to Jamestown in 1609

41 Pharmaceutical Bottle
This light green glass bottle from the bulwark trench has rounded shoulders and flat sides. It is probably a pharmaceutical or laboratory flask.

42 Spatula Mundani This is a surgical instrument devised by London surgeon John Woodall to treat severe cases of constipation. This life-threatening condition was thought by Woodall to be a result of scurvy. But it is more likely the result of taking large amounts of the pain-killer laudanum. In 1609, Woodall sent a fully-equipped surgeon's chest to the Jamestown colony

43 Human Teeth These molars, found at the site, reflect advanced periodontal disease. They appear to have fallen out, as there are no marks on the teeth from extraction. Listed among the first settlers, there are two surgeons who probably would have done the tooth pulling in the colony. But, this would have been accomplished without any painkillers!

44 Brass Doublet Button A doublet is a close fitting man's jacket, which is fastened by rows of small round buttons. This copper alloy button is made of two pieces of stamped sheet metal soldered together, with a separate shank that passes through a central hole in back. One hundred and forty-seven doublet buttons have been found during the course of excavation.

45 William Strachey’s Signet Ring
This ring once belonged to colonist William Strachey who was in Virginia for only one year, Sailing to Virginia on the Sea Venture in 1609, Strachey encountered storms which left him shipwrecked in Bermuda. Some believe that his account of this experience led William Shakespeare to write his play The Tempest.

46 Brass Thimble This 16th-century brass thimble found in Ditch 7 was made in Nuremberg, Germany. There is a maker's mark in the symbol of a bell just above the decorative band of foliage

47 Silver Aglet Most 17th-century clothing was heavily laced, and a metal aglet would have been fastened to the ends of laces to enable easy threading. A modern corollary for this object is the plastic tip that is fitted on the ends of shoelaces and that serves to keep the lace ends from fraying. Almost 1,000 aglets have been excavated from James Fort. All but this silver one, excavated from Pit 3, are copper alloy. This 38 mm long aglet is decorated with stars in a scale pattern.

48 Glass Bead This is a type of glass bead known as Nueva Cadiz. It is named after a 16th-century Spanish colony in Venezuela where this type of bead was first recognized. Seventy-eight Nueva Cadiz beads have been excavated from the fort thus far. This bead was probably purchased in Venice as part of the colonists' trade kit. Its blue color would have been particularly attractive to the Indian chief Powhatan as he is said to have preferred beads the color of the sky.

49 Bone Pendant This triangular bone pendant that was found in the bulwark trench of the fort appears somewhat like a feather. One corner has been pierced to enable it to be worn as jewelry. From the iron file marks on the edges, it appears that the colonists made this object for trade with the Indians.

50 Indian Projectiles These triangular points are of the type that would have tipped the arrows of Indians when the colonists arrived at Jamestown. Seventy-nine of these projectile points have been found within colonial contexts in the fort. Because many of these points are unbroken and are made of non-local stones, they may not represent arrows that were fired upon the colonists during times of Anglo-Indian unrest. Instead, they could have been on special gift arrows that were presented to the colonists


52 Iron Pliers This pair of iron pliers was found within the ca context of Pit 1. It may have been used to work sheet copper into pendants and beads for the Indian trade

53 Cruicible This unused crucible was made in Hesse, Germany. The refractory clay fabric (body) peppered with quartz enables the vessel to withstand very high temperatures. The triangular shaped crucible is the type that was used in testing for gold and other precious metals because a fine stream of liquid could be poured through the corners. Since it is unused, the crucible may represent the colonists' dashed hopes at finding gold in Virginia.

54 Lead Toy This is a lead figurine of a boy who appears to be dancing. It is about 3 cm long and was found in the ca context of Pit 3. It may be a toy brought for the amusement of an adult or child in the colony. There were probably a number of women and children at Jamestown by the spring of Four boys were named among the first colonists who arrived in May It is also recorded that at least two children were born in Bermuda during the year that the survivors of the Sea Venture shipwreck lived there. A girl named Bermuda was born to John Rolfe and his first wife. She died and was buried on Bermuda before the colonists left for Virginia in May 1610, but there is no mention of the fate of a boy named Bermudas Eason who was born in March of that year. The lead boy could also be an object intended for trade with the Indians. Eight similar leaden figures were recovered during explorations of a 1596 Dutch encampment in the arctic region of Nova Zembla. These toys, which are depicting classical mythological figures, were carried as trade goods by an expedition trying to find a north-east passage to China.


56 Whistle This is a bone element to a wind instrument such as a recorder. It was found in Pit 3, ca Recorders are easy to master and were quite popular among strolling street musicians and were commonly used in both church and theatre music.

57 Dice Twelve gaming dice have been found during the excavations. Most are made of bone, but two are ivory and one is lead and was probably made by a soldier casting lead shot in the fort. Pass-dice was a popular game of the time in which two players would try to throw doubles. Every die that has been excavated at Jamestown is about the size of a pencil eraser. The dimensions may relate to the martial laws in the colony, which forbade soldiers from "dicing." The men made their dice very small so the pieces could easily be hidden from their superior officers.


59 English Tobacco Pipe This tobacco pipe was probably made in London from white ball clay mined in southern England. The pipe was found in Pit 1 from a ca context. It has a bulbous bowl with a milled edge opening. The heel is heart-shaped and the maker has made a rouletted line across it as a distinguishing mark. Smoking had become popular in England by the late 16th century. Early clay pipes typically had a small bowl because the tobacco of the time had a strong biting taste and was expensive

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