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Governor's Land Foundation Deeds Archaeological Collection Representing Millennia of Virginia History to Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation

Pictured next to the Jamestown Settlement exhibit of
artifacts from the early 17th-century Paspahegh town
discovered at Governor’s Land at Two Rivers and a model
of the town site are (left to right) C. Ann and Bill Clark of
the Governor’s Land Foundation Heritage Committee;
Nick Luccketti of the James River Institute for Archaeology;
Bill Holstein of the Heritage Committee; Jamestown-Yorktown
Foundation Senior Curator Tom Davidson; Earl Hopgood
of the Heritage Committee; Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation,
Inc., President Sue Gerdelman; and Governor’s Land
Foundation President Larry Magnant.

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., May 25, 2010 – Diverse cultures of Virginia’s past, from 10,000 years ago to the 20th century, are represented in a vast collection of archaeological artifacts transferred by the Governor’s Land Foundation to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, a Virginia state agency that operates Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center history museums.

The artifacts were uncovered in the late 1980s and early 1990s by the James River Institute for Archaeology at the Governor’s Land at Two Rivers tract, located at the confluence of the James and Chickahominy rivers about six miles from where America’s first permanent English colony was founded in 1607 and within what was known after 1619 as the “Company Land,” whose income was intended to benefit the Virginia Company of London.  The archaeological work was done in advance of the tract’s development as a waterfront community for which the Governor’s Land Foundation is the homeowners association.

“This is one of the premier archaeological collections in Virginia,” said Sue H. Gerdelman, president of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Inc., the private fundraising arm that seeks donations to build the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation collection.  “We are honored that the Governor’s Land Foundation chose us to preserve and display these artifacts.”

“The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation has world-class storage and display facilities,” said Governor’s Land Foundation President Larry Magnant, “and we are pleased that the valuable pieces of history recovered at Governor’s Land at Two Rivers will have a secure place and will be accessible to future generations.”

The artifact collection represents at least 50 distinct archaeological sites.  Two of them – an early 17th-century Paspahegh Indian town and what may be the earliest known slave quarter site in Virginia – have a significant role in the Jamestown Settlement galleries, which opened in 2006 and chronicle 17th-century Virginia in the context of its Powhatan Indian, English and west central African cultures. 

A brass buckle, brass spoon bowl, shark’s tooth and partial
pipe bowl with a stem from the slave quarter site are
exhibited in a section of the Jamestown Settlement
galleries that addresses the status of African-American
slaves in Virginia at the end of the 1600s.

Pottery sherds and projectile points from the Paspahegh site, previously on loan from the Governor’s Land Foundation and now part of the museum collection, are exhibited next to a large scale model of the Paspahegh town.  The Paspahegh people were part of the Powhatan paramount chiefdom and were the Powhatan group closest to Jamestown during the earliest years of English settlement.  New exhibit label text will identify the artifacts as “donated by the people of Governor’s Land in memory of the Paspahegh People.”A site occupied by English colonists later in the 17th century is the location of possibly the earliest slave quarter found in Virginia.  Several objects from this late-17th/early 18th-century site, including a brass buckle, brass spoon bowl, shark’s tooth and pipe, are exhibited in a section of the Jamestown Settlement galleries that addresses the status of African-American slaves at the end of the 1600s.  These artifacts have been “donated by the people of Governor’s Land in memory of early African Americans.”        

“Other artifacts from this very important archaeological collection will be incorporated in coming years in our exhibits,” said Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Senior Curator Thomas E. Davidson.  “The collection also will be available for research by people investigating a wide range of historical topics.”

Jamestown Settlement, located on Route 31/Jamestown Road just southwest of Williamsburg, and the Yorktown Victory Center, located on Route 1020/Water Street in Yorktown, are open daily year-round.  For more information, visit hif.ciniva.net.