Tuesday, May 29, 2012

5/29/12 Report - Jamestown Rediscovery Project

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of treasurebeachesreport.blogspot.com.

Olive Jar From the Jamestown Rediscovery Web Site

There was a good program on CSPAN on Memorial Day about the archaeology of Jamestown.  As you might know, for a long time it was thought that the original fort had been washed into the river as the result of erosion.  Later the actual fort was located and excavated.  As it turns out, only a small part of the fort had actually disappeared into the river.

Here is a map of the fort.


You might be wondering what that has to do with the Treasure Coast.  You can learn a lot from other locations that can be applied locally.  The Jamestown colony used products from many countries, such as the Spanish olive jar shown here.

You'll find a lot of good archaeological resources on the Jamestown Rediscovery web site.  This link will take you to the page on Spanish olive jars, but the web site presents many other types of pottery discovered  at Jamestown as well as many other types of artifacts. 


I'm very much interested in old shipwreck pottery.  You can sometimes find old shipwreck pot shards on the Treasure Coast beaches.  I'd like to be able to better identify those shards.   Pot shards can provide good clues to nearby shipwrecks.  Look for shards especially when large shells are washing up onto the beach.

As I watched the CSPAn TV program I saw a number of things that I found both thought-provoking and applicable to hunting on the Treasure Coast or almost anywhere for that matter.

One of the archaeologists on the program, for example, used the term "ownerless objects" to describe objects once owned and used by deceased members of the colony. I seriously doubt that any useable object would remain ownerless very long after the passing of an individual at Jamestown.  It seems to me that any usable object would quickly be adopted and put to use by someone.

The term also made me think of how objects found after resting for hundreds of years under the sea could still be thought to be the property of someone or some governmental agency.  This archaeologist's view of "ownerless objects" seems to sharply contrast with recent maritime rulings.   And if the courts rule, as they did in the recent Spain versus Odyssey Marine case, extending claims of ownership over hundreds of years, wouldn't similar logic put most archaeological artifacts at risk of being claimed by countries or other organizations or individuals?  To me, it seems it would.

Another thing that I thought was interesting is that they found a Roman oil lamp from the first century associated with the pre-1650 Jamestown settlement.  As I always say,  just because an object is old doesn't mean it was lost a long time ago.   People sometimes carry old things with them, as it appears one Jamestown settler did. 

I'm sure that many of you have found old objects on Florida beaches that appear to be out of place. In the past I've shown objects in this blog that were recently found on Florida beaches that are centuries old and from distant locations that were probably lost in recent days or years.. 

I once showed a gold ring holding a mounted 2 escudo that was evidently found by a treasure salvor, then mounted and sold, and lost again.  Actually it appeared that that particular coin had been lost at sea in one shipwreck before being recovered and shipped again in 1715 and then lost again before being salvaged, sold and lost once more.

People carry objects that were produced and traded through distant locations.  That is certainly true today, and it was true back in the 17th Century.  The Jamestown Rediscovered web site shows pottery and other artifacts from the Jamestown colony that were produced in many different countries.  One thing that surprised me is how many of the objects found at Jamestown came from different countries.  I would have expected a greater proportion of locally produced objects.

Dr. Kelso commented on the topic of cremation during the program..  He hoped that it wouldn't become the trend because cremation would not allow future archaeologists to study skeletal remains.  I made some comments on respecting the remains of deceased individuals the other day and personally see his views as potentially insensitive and disrespectful of individuals, religions and cultures.  Archaeology uber alles. 

I do think you'll find many interesting things on the Jamestown Rediscovery web site.  Take a look.  Browse around the various sections. 

Treasure Coast Beach Conditions and Forecast.

The wind is out of the southwest this morning.  Seas are running two or three feet.  The beaches look like mid-summer beaches.  Very sandy.

The seas will stay about the same for the next  couple of days.  Wednesday the wind will shift a little more to the west.

Low tide is around nine o'clock.

Happy hunting.