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JR A Jamestown Mystery.

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Presentation on theme: "JR A Jamestown Mystery."— Presentation transcript:

1 JR A Jamestown Mystery

2 Discovery! Archaeologists made one of the most fascinating discoveries within the palisade wall of Jamestown Fort. Unearthed were the buried skeletal remains of one of Virginia's first colonists. Nicknamed "JR", this settler was a European male.


4 Leg Wound The lead bullet and shot fragments lodged in his lower right leg contained enough force to fracture his tibia and fibula bones, rupturing a major artery below the knee. His right leg is broken and twisted below the knee, where the young man was shot. A lead musket ball and smaller lead shot remain on and within the bone. This wound, and the resulting loss of blood was the likely cause of death. JR would have bled to death within minutes. There appears to have been no attempt to remove the lead, or to set the leg, and no healing took place in the bone prior to death.

5 X-Ray An x-ray shows the lead musket ball and many lead shot on and within the wounded leg. (They show up as bright white spots.) It has been concluded that the shot was to the back of the leg, and that it shattered bone and muscle so badly that the leg twisted around almost completely


7 His Coffin JR's remains were surrounded by nails and the dark soil stained by rotten wood, indicating he was buried in a coffin. As only gentlemen were buried with such care, JR was probably a person of some social standing. The young man was buried in a six-sided, flat lidded coffin, which was shown by soil stains from the decayed wood, and by the rusted iron nails used to build it. He was buried unclothed, and may have been wrapped in a length of cloth or shroud, as was the custom. Small brass straight pins left green stains on his cranium and right shin; these pins may have fastened a loose wrapping.


9 Who Was JR? JR was possibly named among the first deaths recorded in Jamestown. He may have been Ensign Jerome Alicock, who died from an unspecified wound on August 14, 1607 He may have been one of six other men listed as dying from unnamed causes. Could he be George Kendall, a gentleman reportedly shot for treason in September 1607? Probably not, since Kendall was as old as 40 and JR was merely half that age.

10 Records show that one gentleman, Stephen Calthorp (or Galthorp), about age 22, died August 15, 1607.
Researchers believe it is very possible that young Calthorp was in league with Captain John Smith in an aborted mutiny against Captain Christopher Newport on the Canary Islands, where the original Virginia expedition stopped over for supplies.

11 Although Smith, a commoner, was punished and almost executed for his act, Calthorp may have avoided punishment altogether due to his possible family connection to Newport's colleague Edward Maria Wingfield. When Wingfield was elected president by the Virginia Company, tension between Calthorp and Wingfield may have escalated, and factional divisions probably increased when the settlers fell on hard times in August 1607. It may be that the Wingfield camp could remain in power only if opposition was removed. Stephen Calthorp may have been marked for assassination.


13 What was he like? He would have stood five feet six inches tall and was between the ages of 19 and 22. He was a white male. He had a slight build, but with a fairly strong upper body. His teeth and bones show no signs of early childhood diseases.

14 Artifacts This previously unknown grave was located under an old roadbed, about 100 feet south of the church tower. The soil that filled the grave shaft contained only a few artifacts, and those could be dated to the early years of colonial occupation at Jamestown.

15 Artifacts The artifacts give us some idea of the time period of the burial, because they all were probably manufactured before The date of these artifacts and the fact that we did not find any later artifacts leads us to conclude that the grave was filled sometime in the earliest years of colonial settlement at Jamestown. These artifacts were in the backfilled soil of the young colonist's grave. They include fragments of Native American ceramics from the Late Woodland period, and a stone point. The Native American artifacts were probably left by people at Jamestown before the English arrived. The European artifacts in the grave shaft are: A fragment of green-glazed Border ware ceramic A blue glass Nueva Cadiz bead All of these objects were mixed in the soil that filled the grave shaft and not intentionally placed in the grave itself.

16 Bone Deterioration Due to soil conditions and to time, the bones are fragile and somewhat deteriorated. Small or thin bones, like the hands, feet, ribs, and the sides of the pelvis, are the first affected by these conditions, and some of them are completely gone.

17 Body Removal Because of the delicate condition of the remains, Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists removed the entire skeleton intact, on a large pedestal of soil. This process involved digging deep trenches around the burial area with heavy machinery, then undercutting and lifting the heavy pedestal of dirt, without disturbing the bones


19 Burial Lift The burial was lifted in one block of dirt which weighed about 1000 pounds. It was moved into the archaeology lab for further, controlled study.

20 Reconstruction The skull was shattered and crushed flat from centuries of ground pressure.

21 Reconstruction Dr. David Hunt painstakingly reconstructed much of the skull into the form you see here. This enabled the forensic anthropologists to take necessary measurements, and begin to learn what the young man may have looked like.

22 Reconstruction An image of the complete skull was created from Dr. Hunt's reconstruction. Computer graphics were used to fill in the missing pieces from other photographs, and to "flip" parts of the image.

23 Reconstruction Using the actual skull and the reconstruction images, artist Sharon Long cast plaster molds of the settler's skull. Using it as a base, Sharon used her skills and Dr. Doug Owsley's forensic description to begin the process of a facial approximation.

24 Reconstruction Eyes are placed in the sockets,
Rubber tissue depth markers on specific points of the skull. Numbered markers are based on the average thickness of facial tissue for an individual of this race and gender. The markers are connected with clay, "recreating" the tissue, based on the skeletal structure.

25 Reconstruction When all the tissue depth markers are connected, the artist was able to begin modeling the facial features. This approximation is now partially complete. These are the same methods that many crime labs use in their efforts to learn the identities of unknown victims.

26 Reconstruction He had wide-spaced eyes, high cheekbones, and a long, fairly prominent nose. He had a fairly low, sloping forehead. The lower portion of his face juts out slightly. These characteristics were far more typical of people 400 years ago than they are today. As you have seen in the previous frames, this image is based mainly on skull features. To complete the portrait, the artist chose his hair and eye colors, complexion, and facial hair by studying 17th century paintings of Englishmen and other Europeans.


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