Jamestown: Faces from the Past

Posted by on Jul 3, 2013 in native American, summer, Unmowed Blog | 2 comments

Jamestown, Virginia. It’s not an actual town, it’s a historic site, of course. No one lives there but ghosts.jamestown 005

Actually there are two Jamestowns. There’s a National Park at the actual location of the first settlement in North America, and it’s an active archeological site—very educational, but not much action.

And then there’s the much more commercially successful Living History Museum—the sort of place where the staff wear doublet and hose and pretend to churn butter and shoot off cannons and such. And I’m a sucker for living history. I’ve always wanted to do that—dress up in a long skirt, or chainmail, or whatever, and become a person of the past.

At Jamestown, they’re pretty obviously people from the twenty-first century lurking under those petticoats and loincloths. jamestown 012My favorite living history site is Plimoth Plantation, where the staff do what’s called first person interpretation, where they speak as an actual historical character. They achieve an incredible level of accuracy–accents and attitudes, hairstyles and shoes—every detail meticulously researched and spot on.

Here at Jamestown, the staff have modern haircuts and glasses and don’t even pretend to be from 1607. But that’s okay, I love it anyway. I’m willing to suspend my disbelief, ignore the trash cans and water fountains and pretend I’m in a time machine.

For me, the most intriguing part of replica Jamestown was the Native American village, where I encountered these faces. jamestown 004This recreation of a cluster of carved wooden posts is based on a contemporary drawing. No one recorded what the area was used for—possibly ceremonies, or dancing. Their purpose remains a mystery.jamestown 007


  1. Wow! Cool faces. I never knew about that. I love a mystery.

    • remember when we went to Williamsburg?

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