Nov 25, 2016 I Brett Tingley

Pilgrims’ Original Plymouth Settlement Discovered

It’s a Thanksgiving miracle! Well, sort of. More like an interesting Thanksgiving read for those post-meal couch sessions. According to the Boston Globe, archaeologists from the University of Massachusetts Boston claim to have found the original settlement established by the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock close to 400 years ago. The discovery was made by a team of professors and students were digging at the site of a 17th century cemetery that had long been suspected of being part of the 102 settlers’ original colony at Plymouth. While the general area of the Plymouth settlement has long been known, actual archaeological evidence has never been found.

Researchers had hoped to find the site prior to the 400th anniversary of the founding of Plymouth in 2020.

The UMass Boston researchers began by excavating a series of sites suspected of being the Plymouth settlement. After discovering a midden heap (garbage dump), the researchers knew they were on the right path. Calf bones and the remnants of a wooden post informed the team that this was indeed a Pilgrim settlement rather than a Native American one because America’s native people did not domesticate cattle at the time. The team also found a collection of beads, generally assumed to have been used in trade with the settler’s Native American neighbors, as well as various Pilgrim artifacts including pottery, tins, and even musket balls.

Students affectionately named the calf skeleton "Constance."

Kathryn Ness, curator of collections at the Plimoth Plantation living history museum, stated in a UMass Boston press release that this discovery means archaeologists finally have evidence of one of America’s earliest settlements and most enduring holiday legends:

Finding evidence of colonial activity inside the original 1620 Plymouth settlement is an incredibly exciting discovery that has the potential to change dramatically our understanding of early European colonization in New England. For the first time, we have proof of where the settlement was located and what kinds of items the Pilgrims owned and used.

No word on those cool Pilgrim hats yet, though.

hat e1480000443813
Keep digging, undergrads. They're down there somewhere.

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician living in the ancient Appalachian mountains.

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