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Remains of early colonial leaders discovered at Jamestown

Published:Wednesday | July 29, 2015 | 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON (AP):

Archaeologists have uncovered human remains of four of the earliest leaders of the English colony that would become America, buried for more than 400 years near the altar of what was America's first Protestant church in Jamestown, Virginia.

The four burial sites were uncovered in the floor of what's left of Jamestown's historic Anglican church from 1608, a team of scientists and historians announced yesterday. The site is the same church where Pocahontas famously married Englishman John Rolfe, leading to peace between the Powhatan Indians and colonists at the first permanent English settlement in America.

Beyond the human remains, archaeologists also found artefacts buried with the colonial leaders, including a mysterious Catholic container for holy relics found in the Protestant church.

The Jamestown Rediscovery archaeology team revealed its discovery at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. The museum is helping to study and identify those buried in the church. The burials were first uncovered in November 2013, but the scientific team wanted to trace and identify its findings with some certainty before announcing the discovery.

Decades of study

Archaeologists have been studying the site since 1994 when the original James Fort - long thought to be lost and submerged in the James River - was rediscovered.

The team identified the remains of the Rev Robert Hunt, Jamestown's first Anglican minister, who was known as a peacemaker between rival colonial leaders; Captain Gabriel Archer, a nemesis of one-time colony leader John Smith; Sir Ferdinando Wainman, likely the first knight buried in America; and Capt. William West, who died in a fight with the Powhatan Indians. The three other men likely died after brief illnesses. They were buried between 1608 and 1610.