Local archaeologists have uncovered a village believed to be Werowocomoco, the primary home of Chief Powhatan, father of Pocohontas. Powhatan controlled areas of Tidewater Virginia between the Potomac and James Rivers in the early 17th Century.
The site was discovered in Gloucester County on the family farm of Bob and Lynn Ripley.
Archaeologists used colonial documentation, such as a map of the area made by Captain John Smith in 1612, as well as Native American and European artifacts found at the site to identify it as Werowocomoco.
Researchers from William and Mary as well as the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Gloucester archaeologists, and a member of Virginia's Native American community have formed the Werowocomoco Research Group and are currently studying the village to determine the degree to which its dwellings and activity areas remain intact.
The group's first action came on 15 February 2003 when it presented some of its early findings to representatives from the state's eight Indian tribes as well as the Virginia Council on Indians. These organizations then became partners in investigating and interpreting the site.
Martin Gallivan, an Assistant Professor in William and Mary's Department of Anthropology, believes the village is a truly significant find.
"The planned archaeological research offers the potential to expand our knowledge of Werowocomoco as the center of authority among the Powhatans," he said in an interview with WM News.
Danielle Moretti-Langholtz, Director of William and Mary's American Indian Resource Center, also notes the village's ability to educate the community about 17th Century Native Americans.
"It is easy to lose the voices of Virginia Indians in the extraorinary English accounts of the Powhatans. Not only does this project offer an alternative perspective on these events, but it also has the potential to be a new model for archaeological research on American Indian sites in Virginia," she said.