Jamestown's 400th Anniversary - Page 2

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Take a walk through 17th-century Virginia at Jamestown Settlement  (Courtesy, Jamestown Settlement)

Jamestown Settlement
For the more anthropologically curious, Jamestown Settlement, a state-operated living history museum near the historic site, is a fascinating place where visitors get to walk in the shoes, or moccasins, of 17th-century Jamestown denizens. You'll meet interpreters (not actual characters who lived in Jamestown) attired in period clothing but speaking contemporary English.

Along the riverfront, talk with the Powhatan Native in buckskin and help him scrape out an Indian canoe with a clamshell. Come aboard the Susan Constant, a replica of one of the ships that carried the settlers, and listen to the captain's tales of the arduous four-and-a-half month voyage. You can also raise the sails and try to deduce latitude with an astrolabe.

At the fort, kids try on armor and, at designated times, watch blacksmithing demonstrations and musket drills. Guided by a Powhatan Native in the Indian village, visitors tan animal hides and fashion tools from bones.

To celebrate the 400th anniversary, along with enhancing the living history areas, the museum's theater in October released a new documentary film, 1607: A Nation Takes Root, chronicling 20 years of Jamestown's development.

Jamestown Settlement also has a new 30,000-square-foot exhibition space including galleries and small theaters depicting the intermingling of three cultures—Native American, English, and African (the first documented Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619)—in the New World. To compare the cultures, kids view a 17th-century London streetscape, a Native Indian village, and an Angolan settlement. Children can also walk through a life-size planter's house, slave quarters, and a native home covered in bark.

The year-long, special exhibit "The World of 1607," debuting April 27, places Jamestown in the context of world events. Among the items on display are a 15th-century copy of the Magna Carta, antique maps, musical instruments, and surgical tools of the period.

As for Pocahontas, she's here in various portraits, including a cell from the Walt Disney movie.

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