Jamestown unearths 400-year-old pipes for patrons

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Associated Press



Archaeologists at Jamestown, Va., have unearthed a trove of tobacco pipes personalized for a who's who of early 17th century colonial and British elites, underscoring the importance of tobacco to North America's first permanent English settlement.

The white clay pipes were crafted from 1608 to 1610 and bear the names of English politicians, social leaders, explorers, officers of the Virginia Company that financed the settlement and governors of the colony. Archaeologists also found equipment used to make the pipes.

Researchers think the pipes, recovered from a well in James Fort, were made to impress investors and the political elite with the financial viability of the settlement. They are likely the rejects that failed to survive the ceramic firing process in a kiln.

The find comprises more than 100 pipes or fragments. Names on the pipes include Sir Walter Raleigh, who dispatched the colonists to the territory he named Virginia; Capt. Samuel Argall, a major Virginia Company investor and governor of Virginia; and Earl of Southampton Henry Wriothesley, a Virginia Company official who was also William Shakespeare's major patron.

"It really brings the people back into the picture," said Bly Straube, senior archaeological curator for the Jamestown Rediscovery Project. "We have a lot of artifacts that we can associate with types of people like gentleman or women or children, but to find things like the pipe that bears the name Sir Walter Raleigh, I mean, my goodness. … It just makes it very tangible and real."

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Jamestown unearths 400-year-old pipes for patrons 12/31/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:52pm]

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