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Reconstructing Jamestown (06:25)

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Pocahontas' story is well known by many, but only the English perspective of events was recorded. The location of the Jamestown fort was rediscovered in 1994 by archaeologist William Kelso when he found artifacts confirming his theories. The most famous accounts of Jamestown come from the writings of John Smith, an English adventurer and soldier who arrived in Virginia in May 1607.

Pocahontas: Myth or Fact (08:28)

The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities sponsors the Jamestown excavation, which has unearthed nearly 1 million artifacts and 85 skeletons. Famine pushed John Smith into exploring inland for Indian tribes willing to trade with the English, which led to his capture and being taken to Werowocomoco where Pocahontas intervened to save him from execution. He would not write about the incident for 17 years, causing many experts to question its truth.

Finding Werowocomoco (04:53)

The location of Powhatan's capital was lost centuries ago, but John Smith and other English writers document it as being near Purtan Bay on the York River. In Virginia, Lynn Ripley uncovered thousands of Native American artifacts on her farm likely related to the lost settlement. Archaeologists use the simple stamping technique of the pots and arrowhead size to date the findings.

Pocahontas' Life and Times (03:54)

Knowing the importance of Werowocomoco, Lynn Ripley opens her home to archaeologists. Native American experts help reconstruct what life would have been like in a 17th-century Indian settlement. It is believed that Pocahontas would have spent much of her time learning to be chief from Powhatan.

Excavation of Werowocomoco (06:54)

The archaeologists' main goal is to find Powhatan's longhouse, but they have only discovered the residential areas of Werowocomoco up to this point. Nearly 1,500 feet from shore, they uncover the largest earthworks in the Chesapeake region, which seem to mark a sacred or restricted area. Students with a summer field school discover post holes indicating the structure's size and location.

Politics Between Tribes and English (06:23)

The scarcity of copper made it a valuable commodity to 17th-century Native Americans, and its discovery at Werewocomoco provides more potential evidence of John Smith’s presence. Just as the English sought to control the Indian tribes through trade, Powhatan intended to control the English through alliances. Powhatan adoption rituals were accompanied by threats of death and the intercession of a tribeswoman offering an alternative, which experts believe may be the origin of the Pocahontas story.

Intermarriage and Famine in Jamestown (08:02)

After John Smith’s return to Jamestown, relative peace ensued and the Powhatan people provided the settlers with food. Virginia Indian material found throughout the colony indicates intermarriage between Native women and English men. Experts investigate why, in the summer of 1608, the Powhatans ceased trading food, leading to war and the eventual abandonment of Werowocomoco.

Pocahontas' Later Life (05:27)

Continued wars between English and the Powhatans culminated in the kidnapping of Pocahontas in 1613. In captivity, she converted to Christianity and married an Englishman, bringing about a truce. While in England with her husband and son, she was used as a piece of propaganda for the Virginia Company and was reacquainted with John Smith, who she believed had died.

Pocahontas Revealed: Credits (00:47)

Pocahontas Revealed: Credits

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Description

On the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, science is revealing the truth behind the myth of John Smith, Chief Powhatan and his daughter, Pocahontas. Virginia archaeologists have recently discovered the site of Chief Powhatan's capital, Werowocomoco, some 17 miles from Jamestown beside the York River. Follow the investigation by NOVA of the site as archeologists for the first time reveal the Native American side of the Jamestown story.

Length: 54 minutes

Item#: BVL151386

Copyright date: ©2007

Closed Captioned

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