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14.2: Activity 1 - Rewriting History- Jamestown

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    Amanda Wolcott Paskey and AnnMarie Beasley Cisneros
    Cosumnes River College and American River College

    Historical archaeology offers the opportunity to uncover evidence about the past and to verify stories previously told about the past. In many cases, traditional views of history are quite different from the story told by archaeological data. In this activity, you will examine previously held beliefs about Jamestown Colony, one of the original pilgrim settlements established beginning in 1607.

    1. View the website 13 Colonies for Kids (, which was designed to give young children an overview of Jamestown Colony. Note the key points brought up regarding life at Jamestown Colony and other groups of people also present there.
    2. View the website Jamestown Rediscovery ( and pay specific attention to the Archaeology and Collections tabs to learn about information discovered through archaeological excavations and research concerning the daily life of Jamestown Colony and its inhabitants.
    3. Rewrite the text on the Jamestown Colony from 13 Colonies for Kids to reflect the new conclusions drawn from archaeological data you uncovered at the Rediscovering Jamestown website.

    Consider the following questions before beginning your rewrite:

    • Are there any groups of people who were present in Jamestown that 13 Colonies for Kids did not address? What materials have been uncovered that demonstrate the presence of previously undocumented groups at the colony?
    • Based on recent archaeological discoveries, does 13 Colonies for Kids accurately present relationships between the colonists and other groups at and near Jamestown? What artifacts and discoveries best demonstrate the nature of those relationships?
    • Is the description of how the colonists adapted to life in North America presented in 13 Colonies for Kids accurate? What materials have recently been uncovered that document daily life and survival at Jamestown?

    Using the Map of Discoveries at the Rediscovering Jamestown Archaeology tab, select one specific archaeological excavation completed at Jamestown and add what you learned from the excavation to your rewrite of the original 13 Colonies for Kids website.

    1. After completing your rewrite of the 13 Colonies for Kids text, reflect on your experiences while completing the activity.

    a. If any part of your early education occurred in the United States, think about what you learned about Jamestown when you were young and how it is the same or different from what you learned on the Rediscovering Jamestown website.

    How does archaeology inform, reimagine, and correct historical interpretations? Think about who writes the accounts on which histories are based and groups of people who tend to be studied by archaeologists. What kinds of groups are likely to remain poorly understood or even lost to history without archaeological analysis of historical sites? In what ways does archaeology enrich our understanding of t