In Jamestown, Virginia, archaeologists have discovered a rare stone inscription stone that probably came out 400 years ago when forming the first British settlements in the Americas.
Both sides of the slate have letters, numbers, and figures of people, trees, and birds whose owners have probably met in the New World in the early 17th century.
The stone was found a few feet deep, in the position of the first well dug at James Fort in early 1609 by Captain John Smith, the supreme leader of Jamestown at the time - quoted Bill Kelso. , commander of archeological team at the scene.
If this well is confirmed by John Smith, it could provide important information about the difficult early years in Jamestown.
According to the record, in 1611, the water in Smith's well suddenly became foul and then the well was turned into a garbage pit . Archaeologists found stone slabs and many other things that the reclamation team had thrown into the well.
In the 17th century, in England, stones were sometimes used instead of paper, since the paper was very expensive and could not be reused.
According to Bly Straube, the curator of Jamestowne History Museum, people used to draw pictures and write on broken tiles at the time, which could be removed and reused. ' The inscription stone at this stage is very rare in England, so we don't know much about it,' she said.
Archaeologists as well as scientists from many other research fields are trying to decipher the first slab with many of the carvings found in a British area discovered in the 17th century America.
The stone of 5x8 inch (ie 13x20 cm) is engraved with the words "" A MINON OF THE FINEST SORTE. " Above is another line with the "EL NEV FSH HTLBMS 508," scattered around the icons that have yet to be successfully interpreted.
'We still don't know what they mean,' Kelso said.
However, there were also some clues.
According to Straube, 'minon' is a variant of the 17th century 'minion', and it has many different meanings: 'servant', 'servant', 'friend', 'companion', or 'favored person', or someone who is privileged by a saint. A 'minion' may also be a form of cannonballs - and archaeologists have found shots in the James Fort area that are about the size of a cannon.
Stone drawings depict several different flowers and a few birds - possibly an eagle, an owl and a bird recommendation.
'Sketches of birds and flowers show that the British were really fascinated by the natural landscape of the alien New World,' said Kelso, the team leader for excavation. There was also a sketch of an Englishman smoking a pipe and a man lost a hand and a frill collar.
Although the exact number of years of the stone remains unknown, archaeological evidence - including shells, Indian pottery, beads, glass mirrors, pipes, healing vessels, and military supplies another - showing that they were thrown into wells in the early years of the James Fort barracks formed in 1607.
If this was indeed Smith's well, archaeologists believe that the stone was probably formed in 1611, when the well was filled, or before.
Recently, it was also found from this well a baby toy made of copper, combining a whistle and a pointed tip.
Straube thinks the toothpicks of this item are made from coral. In the 17th century, corals were considered to be very good for children's teeth and a miracle substance that could ward off demons. She said this could be the stuff of the women who brought their children to Jamestown in 1609.
The stone was found a few feet deep, in the position of the first well dug at James Fort in early 1609 by Captain John Smith, the supreme leader of Jamestown at that time.(Photo: Michael Lavin)
Clues about the owner of the slate
Until now scientists still do not know who is the owner of the stone.
Straube said images of dwarf palms, a species commonly found from South Carolina to the Carribbean, suggest that the painting may have been formed on a journey from England to Jamestown via West Indies, which was a popular journey to go to the New World.
Or, she said, the stone could be used by one of the 140 colonists who drifted ashore after the 1609 Sea Venture shipwreck. They were trapped in Bermuda for 10 months before reaching Jamestown. in spring 1610.
The painting of three lions is standing up, the image is embroidered on the army's clothes during 1603-25 when King James I reigned, also found on the stone. This may mean that the stone's owner is a member of the military or government.
Archaeologist Kelso speculated that the stone may belong to William Strachey, who served as secretary of the reclamation team. This is one of those who have suffered in Bermuda and went to Jamestown in 1610.
Straube said that the stone was from someone living in Jamestown and died in the winter of 1609-10, when the camp was surrounded. Only 60 of the 200 survivors remained.
Near the stone, archaeologists also found bones and teeth of horses that had been cut, along with dog bones, which reminded them of the terrible winter in the past, when the colonists ate their horses and dogs They to survive.
It is also possible that stones were used by many people. 'It seems that there are many different handwriting on the stone ,' Straube notes.
Writing classes and drawings
The images on the slabs are difficult to see because they are the same dark gray with stone color and many parts are covered. The colonists probably wrote on the stone with a sharp rectangular stone stick. Doing so will appear white lines on the stone - and, luckily for our archaeologists, this way also leaves marks on the stone surface.
' You can wipe away the white markings, but you cannot completely erase the notches,' said archaeologist Kelso. 'That's why we see this drawing floor overlaps another drawing floor. In archeology, when one notch cuts a different notch, one can tell which mark was created later. '
He hopes that eventually, with NASA's support, the team will be able to categorize parts of the image sequence. Scientists at NASA's Langlay Research Center are currently using a high-precision hologram drawing system, similar to a CT scanner, that separates image layers and provides detailed analysis. about the stone slab.
The well of John Smith?
Finding out whether this is really Smith's well will help understand the most difficult early years in Jamestown.
According to records of colonists, Smith's water began to turn black after digging for a year. Some experts say that well water contaminated with toxic chemicals from seawater may be one of the main reasons for the harsh winter 1609-10, besides food shortages, epidemics, internal conflicts. set and war with the Indians.
Located near the James River, next to the warehouse between the barracks, the well was discovered last year, and archaeologists began conducting excavations earlier this year. They believed that it existed before another well dug in 1611 and was located far from the river.
Kelso said that the colonists who had learned a lesson from Smith's well should dig this second well as far away from the river as possible to avoid contamination from brackish water.
So far archaeologists have dug 5 feet (1.5 meters) deep, and the crater is gradually shrinking into a circle, like a well. Predicting this well can be 9 to 15 feet deep (2.7 to 4.5 meters).
Kelso said they were not sure if it was a well dug by Smith until they reached the bottom and studied five years of artifacts below.
The discovery of the well, according to him, 'will give us the opportunity to know the health problem of the reclamation team and find out what has damaged the well water.' At that time, the secret related to the 400-year-old stone slab would probably be revealed.