Archeologists have unearthed the human remains of four colonial leaders in Jamestown, Virginia. The bodies were buried more than 400 years ago near what had been the US' first Protestant church, and are believed to belong to some of the earliest English settlers in America. It is the same church where Pocahontas married John Rolfe, which marked the beginning of a peace treaty between the Powhatan Indians and colonists. Archeologists had discovered the remains in November 2013 but they wanted to trace and confirm the findings before making an announcement.

The most interesting aspect of the discovery, however, was not of the bones themselves, but of the relics that were buried with the bodies. For example, on top of the coffin belonging to Capt. Gabriel Archer, a nemesis of the one-time colony leader John Smith, archeologists found a Catholic reliquary that contained bone fragments and a container for holy water, raising questions of whether Archer was part of a secret cell within the Protestant community, or even a Catholic spy on behalf of the Spanish.

"The things that we look at and can read from the bones are simply details that you're not going to find in the history books," said Smithsonian forensic anthropologist Douglas Owsley. "These are men that you might not know their name. But these are men that were critical to who we are in terms of America today."


Facts about the Jamestown settlement:

Two years ago, the same team of archeologists found evidence of survival cannibilism in the colony.

The Native Americans who inhabited the area now called Jamestown were the Paspahegh tribe, part of the larger Powhatans. They initially welcomed of the colonial settlers, sharing their food and support. Yet within three years, the entire Paspahegh tribe was annihilated by the settlers.

In what became known as the "starving time" spaning only one year between 1609 and 1610, over 80% of the colonists died due to starvation and disease.

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