Archaeologists have unearthed skeletons and the remains of buildings at the site of the first Indian village destroyed by English colonists in the New World.
The Paspahegh village was the closest Indian settlement to Jamestown, the first surviving English colony in America. It provided a welcoming feast for the colonists after they established the settlement in 1607.But three years later, Lord Thomas de la Warr, the colony's first governor, ordered settlers to drive out the village's inhabitants, an attack that historians say poisoned relations between the colonists and Indians.
Seven skeletons, five partial skeletons and the remains of more than 40 structures, mostly oval longhouses, have been unearthed since February.
The skeletons apparently date from about 1500 to 1610, said project supervisor Mary Ellen Hodges. None show signs of the attack, but archaeologists say it occurred within a half-mile of the excavation site.
The site is being turned into a golf course, and the archeologists are working one step ahead of the heavy equipment under an agreement with developers.
The Paspahegh site had been occupied for about 12,000 years, said Nick Luccketti, director of the James River Institute of Archaeology, which is conducting the dig.
The Paspahegh Indians were one of about 30 tribes that came under the dominion of Powhatan, the area's primary chief starting in about 1580. His dominion encompassed the coastal plain of modern Virginia.
The village, with about 100 inhabitants, had about 40 fighting men, but the English shot or stabbed nearly 60 people, said Helen Rountree, Old Dominion University professor of anthropology. The village was burned to the ground along with its cornfields.
Rountree said the raid, which occurred after months of low-level hostilities over the colonists' demand for corn, was the first major attempt by the English to take over Indian territory and their first recorded killing of Indian women and children.