The Virginia Adventure: Roanoke to James Towne: an Archaeological and Historical Odyssey

Overview

For thirty-five years, as writer, lecturer, and chief archaeologist at Colonial Williamsburg, Ivor Noel Hume has enlivened for us the material culture of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century America. After his warmly praised book Martin's Hundred, he now turns to the two earliest English outposts in Virginia — Roanoke and James Towne — and pieces together revelatory information extrapolated from the shards and postholes of excavations at these sites with contemporary accounts found in journals, letters, and ...

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Overview

For thirty-five years, as writer, lecturer, and chief archaeologist at Colonial Williamsburg, Ivor Noel Hume has enlivened for us the material culture of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century America. After his warmly praised book Martin's Hundred, he now turns to the two earliest English outposts in Virginia — Roanoke and James Towne — and pieces together revelatory information extrapolated from the shards and postholes of excavations at these sites with contemporary accounts found in journals, letters, and official records of the period. He illuminates narratives that have a mythic status in our early history: the exploits of Sir Walter Ralegh, Captain John Smith, and Powhatan; the life and death of Pocahontas; and the disappearance of the Roanoke colony. He recounts a recent important excavation at Roanoke where he and his colleagues found the work site of a metallurgist named Joachim Gans, whose findings about the mineral wealth of Virginia helped to convince London merchants that America was a worthy risk This is an account of high and low adventure, of noble efforts and base impulses, and of the inevitably tragic interactions between Indians and Europeans, marked by greed, treachery, and commonplace savagery on both sides. The astonishment of this history is that despite bad luck, bad management, and bad blood, the English presence in America persisted and the Virginia settlements survived as the birthplace of a country founded on English law and language.

With clarity, authority, and elegant wit, Noel Hume has enhanced our understanding of the historical forces and principal players behind England's first perilous ventures into the New World, and provedagain that he is without a doubt one of the great interpreters of our early colonial past.

With clarity, authority, and wit, author Hume--writer, lecturer, and chief archeologist at Colonial Williamsburg for 35 years--now chooses to write about the two earliest English outposts in Virginia. He pieces together revelatory information from the most recent digs with journals, letters, and official records of the period. 164 illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In an elegantly written tour de force of history and archeology, Hume (Martin's Hundred) tells a dark tale of two cities. One, the earliest English colony in North America, Roanoke Island, off North Carolina, was settled briefly in 1584 by a colonizing expedition organized by Sir Walter Raleigh; a subsequent group of colonists disappeared without a trace by 1590. Jamestown, Va., the first permanent English settlement in America, founded in 1607, was plagued by greedy, feuding administrators, bad management from London, disease, starvation, the colonists' ``self-defeating slothfulness,'' and their paralyzing fear of Indians and of one another, according to Hume, chief archeologist at Colonial Williamsburg. Enlivened by period engravings, paintings, maps, photographs of sites and artifacts, this saga of Anglo-Native American relations shattered by English arrogance and disdain is peopled with astonishing figures like British captain Samuel Argall, who kidnapped Algonquian chief Powhatan's daughter Pocahontas and held her for ransom, and sinister Spanish diplomat/spymaster Pedro de Zuniga who did his best to scuttle the English adventure. BOMC selection. (Sept.)
Library Journal
In his latest book since Martin's Hundred (LJ 3/15/82), Hume, chief archaeologist at Colonial Williamsburg for 35 years, brings his diverse talents to bear on the historical archaeology of the Roanoke and James Fort (later James Towne) settlements. Drawing extensively on firsthand accounts and other textual sources, he conjures up the feel of the Elizabethan experience that gave life to these settlements. His rendering of settlers and Indians is robust, often tragic, and rich in insight based on his own study of the period. Equally enthralling is his ability to move the reader back and forth in time. Hume also includes masterly and generous accounts of the history of the excavation of these sites and offers his well-informed views on where future work needs to be done. Written with wit, compassion, and tremendous attention to detail, this is historical archaeology at its best. It should appeal to a wide audience of lay readers and scholars interested in the beginning of British American culture in the New World.-Joan Gartland, Detroit P.L.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780394564463
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/13/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 6.72 (w) x 9.59 (h) x 1.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Ivor Noel Hume was born in London and studied at both Framlingham College and St. Lawrence College in England. In 1949 he joined the staff of the Guildhall Museum in London as an archaeologist. He moved to Colonial Williamsburg as chief archaeologist in 1957 and subsequently became director of Williamsburg's Department of Archaeology. Mr. Noel Hume is an honorary research associate of the Smithsonian Institution, a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and a past vice-president of the British Society of Post-Medieval Archaeology. He is the author of ten previous books, including Here Lies Virginia and Martin's Hundred. In 1992, for contributions to British cultural interests in Virginia, he was named an Officer of the British Empire. He lives in Williamsburg, Virginia.

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