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April 10, 2007

"Jamestown Unearthed" premieres April 26

Colonial Williamsburg’s Emmy-award-winning Electronic Field Trip series concludes April 26, 2007, in conjunction with the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of Jamestown, with the premiere of “Jamestown Unearthed.” Presented in a slightly different format from the typical Electronic Field Trip, “Jamestown Unearthed” is a documentary that examines how history is written and re-evaluated as new methods of study are introduced and archaeological discoveries offer new clues to interpreting history.

In May 1607, when 104 English men and boys first stepped onto Jamestown Island, they could not have imagined the impact their arrival would have on the future of the world. Hoping for adventure, escaping the past, longing for riches or a better life, the Jamestown colonists founded America’s first permanent English settlement – and a new nation. These early settlers would never know that everyday items they left behind, from the soles of their shoes to broken pipe stems would be excavated and examined four centuries later by Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists. What these archaeologists discovered – and how they used these clues to uncover the past – is the subject of “Jamestown Unearthed.”

The documentary was produced by Colonial Williamsburg’s division of productions, publications and learning ventures in partnership with the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities–Jamestown Rediscovery. The program explores historical myths and misconceptions from the perspective of modern archaeology. Additional Historic Triangle collaboration for the broadcast was provided by Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and the National Park Service.

The Jamestown Rediscovery excavations in the mid-1990s at James Fort revealed the remains of the fort long believed lost in the James River and demonstrate how archaeology has greatly expanded our understanding of the day-to-day life in early colonial Virginia. Using documents, artifacts and interviews with the project team, the program reveals how a combination of written and archaeological evidence can produce exciting new insights into the past. Students learn how a professional archaeological excavation is conducted and the 21st-century scientific processes archaeologists use to learn about history.

In addition to the contemporary scenes showing archaeologists discovering clues to Jamestown’s past, re-created scenes portray what life may have been like in the early colony.

Students in participating schools may call the program from their classrooms during the broadcast to ask questions live. For “Jamestown Unearthed,” the on-air experts will be Dr. William Kelso, director of archaeology for the Jamestown Rediscovery Project; Beverly Straube, senior curator, Jamestown Rediscovery Project; Dr. James Horn, vice president of research for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; and Willie Balderson, who portrays 17th-century Jamestown colonist Anas Todkill, servant to Jamestown councilman John Martin. Student hosts for “Jamestown Unearthed” are Kaitlin Adams and Christina Holmes.

In honor of the commemoration of America’s 400th Anniversary, “Jamestown Unearthed” will have an encore presentation to begin the 2007 – 2008 Electronic Field Trip season Oct. 11.

Electronic Field Trips are broadcast one Thursday each month from October through April at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Eastern time on participating PBS stations and cable channels. Registered users may also view Electronic Field Trips via the Internet. The programs consist of a one-hour live broadcast which includes a story on subjects from the colonial period through the early life of the United States. The productions are supported with comprehensive lesson plans, glossaries, timelines, Internet activities and online connectivity to Colonial Williamsburg historians.

As the nation’s leading educational resource for early American history, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation uses the Internet and interactive television technology to bring the 18th century to life for more than one million students throughout the United States each year. For more information or to register for the Electronic Field Trip Series visit or contact the Electronic Field Trip registrar at 1-800-761-8331 or by e-mail at

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture — stories of our journey to become Americans. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. Williamsburg is located 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information or reservations, call toll-free 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg on the Internet at

Media Contact:
Barbara Brown
(757) 220-7280