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1. Who is conducting research at the Werowocomoco site?
Research at the site of Werowocomoco is conducted by the Werowocomoco Research Group (WRG)--a six-member team composed individuals from the College of William & Mary, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and archaeologists from Gloucester, Virginia. The WRG is coordinating archaeological and educational efforts at Werowocomoco in consultation with the landowners of the site and a Virginia Indian Advisory Board (VIAB), composed of representatives from several of Virginia's state-recognized tribes.

2. What are the names of Virginia's eight state-recognized tribes?
Currently, the Commonwealth of Virginia recognizes eight tribes. Seven of them were historically part of the Powhatan chiefdom and spoke Algonquian languages. They are the: Chickahominy, Chickahominy (Eastern Division), Mattaponi, Pamunkey, Nansemond, Rappahannock and Upper Mattaponi. The Mattaponi and Pamunkey tribes have maintained their reservations since the seventeenth century. The Monacan Indian Nation, a Siouan speaking group, is the eighth tribe. The Monacan tribal headquarters are in Amherst County.

3. Who is funding the excavation and research efforts?
The 2003 archaeological field school was funded by the College of William & Mary. The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities has provided support for the development of this Website, video taping the summer field school, and is assisting the WRG with funding for the analysis and writing of the end-of-year report. Support for the analysis of archaeological materials excavated from the site has been provided by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. As this is an on-going project the WRG will continue to seek financial support from private and public sources.

4. What kind of research is being done at the site?
The WRG is leading a multi-disciplinary effort to excavate and document this nationally-important site. We are using a variety of research techniques to better understand the scale, layout and historic development of Werowocomoco. Thorough reviews of existing historical documentation pertaining to the site are underway. The research team is searching for evidence of the appearance or layout of the village. Block excavations were used to open large portions of the site to investigate potential locations of structures and other features. Non-invasive remote sensing was used to claarify the location of significant features identified during the 2003 field school. The ultimate goals of the excavation are to understand the organization of Werowocomoco and to shed light on the emergence of the complex Powhatan chiefdom. The WRG is committed to incorporating Virginia Indian perspectives into every aspect of this project. Lastly, the WRG team hopes that the excavation of Werowomoco will promote a more complete and balanced history of Native Americans and the colonial encounter in Virginia.

5. What do you expect to find?
We hope to learn more about the layout of the village of Werowocomoco during the years prior to the colonial encounter and up to 1609. The archaeologists hope to uncover evidence of houses, hearths, living areas and storage pits. We also expect to find artifacts such as pottery, stone tools and possibly European items of trade such as beads and metal.

6. What did you find during the summer 2003 excavation?
The field school uncovered well preserved evidence from a range of period at Werowocomoco. The site contains abundant features (post stains, hearths and ditches) from the late Precontact through Contact periods, with most of deposits dating to the site's Werowocomoco era. The fieldwork suggests that the core of residential settlement and domestic activities was located on the York River. The research uncovered indications that this residential living spaace extended at least 500 feet from the river, pointing toward a large, dispersed community. Finally, two unusual ditch features located in a pasture several hundred feet from the river provided a tantalizing glimpse of substantial landscape features within the settlement. We will be releasing a report of the field results in the spring of 2004.

7. Is this the site where Pocahontas saved the life of John Smith?
There were numerous important meetings between the Virginia Indians and the English settlers in the early part of the seventeenth centuries. Several of these important meetings took place at Werowocomoco, Chief Powhatan's principal village. Many scholars doubt the veracity of the story since John Smith does not mention the story in 1612 writings about his life in Virginia. The famous account of John Smith's rescue by Pocahontas appears in Smith's second narrative published in 1624. As a folk legend of early American history the story of Pocahontas and John Smith is interesting. However, the real significance of Werowocomoco lies with the story of Chief Powhatan and the role he played in consolidating many tribes into his chiefdom and his negotiations with the English colonists during the early years of the colonial encounter.

8. Is the site open to the public?
The site of Werowocomoco is located on private property. At this time visits by the general public are not possible. However, you can click on the ‘Virtual Visit' link here at our Website.