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Four centuries ago, a band of English adventurers built a fort on the James River near the Chesapeake Bay. In the decades after 1607, shipload after shipload of colonists sought new lives in North America. They began moving inland, settling along the coastal rivers of Virginia and Maryland.


These early immigrants left us dramatic evidence of their lives — in the traces of the structures they built, the foods they ate, and the objects they used. The most vivid evidence waits in their unmarked graves and skeletons.

Today, scientists are recovering these buried clues and investigating these most personal physical records. Thanks to scientists and volunteers at Jamestown, St. Mary's City, the Lost Towns of Anarundel County and the Smithsonian, we are meeting the Chesapeake's earliest European and African settlers in entirely new ways. Their stories are written in their bones.


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