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September 23, 2008

APVA Archaeologist William M. Kelso discusses recent discoveries at Jamestown Rediscovery Project

William M. Kelso, director of archaeology for the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities Jamestown Rediscovery Project, uncovers “The Buried Truth” during the “Preservation and Exploration in the Shadow of John Smith: 2008 Jamestown Lecture Series” Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. at Colonial Williamsburg’s Kimball Theatre.

Kelso’s multimedia presentation will focus on the historical background, past and recent discoveries of the ongoing Jamestown Rediscovery Project at Historic Jamestowne. Special focus will be on what archaeology reveals about the design of the original 1607-1624 James Fort and its role as a military and political base from which the James River basin of Virginia was permanently settled by the English.

Discussion of how some of the finds offer new perspective on English-Virginia Indian relations, what some of the 1.1 million artifacts reveal about daily life in the colony and what forensic burial studies reveal about the early Jamestown population will be included. Recent discovery of the remains of a multipurpose service building and a basement containing burned building remains of a post 1656 fire also will be illustrated.

In 1994, Kelso began archaeological excavations for the APVA to search for remains of the 1607 James Fort, thought by most people to have long been destroyed by river erosion. The fort was soon discovered and became the centerpiece of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown in 2007. He directs a team of archaeologists, conservators and a curator who continue to explore this significant American landmark.

For more than 40 years, Kelso has built a reputation as one of America’s foremost historical archaeologists concentrating on early American history. He has served as field supervisor of archaeology at Carter’s Grove, and at Thomas Jefferson's homes, Monticello and Poplar Forest. He also was commissioner of archaeology for the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission.

Kelso has lectured on historical archaeology at the University of Virginia's School of Architecture since 1976 and, since 1995, has served as adjunct professor at the College of William and Mary. He also has lectured throughout the United States and in England and has authored or contributed to numerous books and articles on archaeology including: “Jamestown Rediscovery I-VIII,” Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, Richmond; “Kingsmill Plantations: Archaeology of Country Life in Colonial Virginia,” Academic Press Inc., San Diego; “Archaeology of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello: Artifacts of Everyday Life in the Plantation Community,” Monticello Monograph Series, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Inc. Charlottesville; and “Jamestown: The Buried Truth,” University of Virginia Press, Jamestown.

A native of Ohio, Kelso received a bachelor’s degree in history from Baldwin-Wallace College, and a master's degree in early American history from the College of William and Mary in 1964. In 1971, he completed his doctoral dissertation on the excavation of a plantation in Savannah for the Georgia Historical Commission and received his Ph.D. from Emory University.

Tickets for individual lectures are $10 and a ticket for the entire lecture series can be purchased for $28. For more information, contact the Kimball Theatre box office at (757) 565-8588 or visit

Located in downtown Williamsburg’s Merchants Square, the Kimball Theatre is owned and operated by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the not-for-profit educational institution that operates the restored 18th-century capital of Virginia. The Kimball Theatre box office is open 1-9:15 p.m.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City?,” a dramatic live street theater presentation, is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121