Powhatan's Chain of Pearls

Will Powhatan's chain of pearls be found at Jamestown?

Straube shows me a small brass rendering of an Indian's face. The colonists gave it to Chief Powhatan, she says, to guarantee safe passage to his messengers. "And we know that Powhatan had a comparable object that he gave to a leader of the colony," Straube explains. "It was a chain of pearls that he gave the governor here. He said if ever you send a messenger, make sure he's wearing this, so I know that the message is coming right from you."

I ask if she's found Powhatan's chain of pearls.

"No." Straube laughs. "That would be very cool. Yeah, it wouldn't surprise me at all that something like that would be found."

If there's time.

To find out how much time there might be, I visit Carl Hershner, a climate scientist at the Virginia Institute for Marine Science. We stand on the shore of the York River, not far from Jamestown. "If you look right across the way, that's Yorktown," he says, "where the Revolutionary War was fought and all of that."

Hershner says coastal sites here in Tidewater Virginia may go under faster than elsewhere because many are actually sinking. When the massive glaciers that covered much of North America retreated 10,000 years ago, some regions bounced back up, while others — like Tidewater — continue to settle. Pumping groundwater out of the ground also causes land to settle.

Read entire article about Jamestown and Powhatan's Chain of Pearls here.

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