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Our first full day in Virginia's Historic Triangle found our group bussing to Historic Jamestowne (notice the e) to enjoy the hot sunshine. Out of the bus, we met with our knowledgable guide, Mark Summers (director of public and youth programs - not to be confused with Marc Summers of TV's Double Dare). Summers led us across the bridge where it was apparent that we now lived in a swampy area. That highlights the fact that in 1607, settlers would have been virtually miserable in the humidity and mosquito-saturated atmosphere.
Still 104 men stuck it out in this very location, the place of Britain's first successful colony in North America.
The real tour began here, past the Visitors Center and the tall monument. The real education began within view of this humble tree, beside an active archaeological dig site. This is where Mr. Summers spilled a cornucopia of information about the history of this awesome area. He does so with eloquent honesty, respect to other colonial sites, and without shying away from the blood, sweat, muscle, and losses of this "successful" settlement.
There is little documentation to inform us about life in this working British colony. Only in the last few decades has much of the tale unfolded, due to an enormous and ongoing commitment to archaeology, peeling back the layers of time, past modern usage, through antebellum levels, and far back into the 17th and 18th Centuries. We now know many things that were hidden when I was a child.
Through the years, there have been attempts to mark this area with commemorative signage and memorial markers, but the best testament to the place is the display of archaeological evidence. The story is best told through the eyes of the scientists who have carefully catalogued millions of artifacts, including the skeletons of some of the citizens buried within and outside of the walls of a fort, the position of which was itself long assumed to be taken by the river when it was actually right under our feet the whole time.
Stories in Jamestowne will continue to come to light, and we will never understand all that took place, but our interests are piqued after spending just one morning on this property. Curiosity will keep us coming back, whether in person, virtually, or in our memories to this historically fertile soil.