1. Who is conducting research at the Werowocomoco
Research at the site of Werowocomoco is conducted by the
Werowocomoco Research Group (WRG)--a six-member team composed
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
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
the summer field school, and is assisting the WRG with funding
for the analysis and writing of the end-of-year report. Support
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
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