Photo in the News: America's Lost Founding Father?

Photo: Skeleton
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January 31, 2005—Today in England an archaeological team began the search for DNA that could prove that the skeleton pictured above is that of Capt. Bartholomew Gosnold. In 1607 Gosnold founded the English colony at Jamestown, Virginia, but died a few months later.

Gosnold's sister and niece are believed to be buried in churchyards in Suffolk, England. If their DNA can be extracted from their remains—and if that DNA matches Gosnold's—archaeologists will know for sure that the bones are Gosnold's.

With the support of the Church of England and funding from the National Geographic Society, the graveyards were to be surveyed today with ground radar, to establish the feasibility of taking DNA samples.

Archaeologists determined that the individual, discovered in 2003, was shrouded and buried in a casket. The shape of the casket diagrammed here was inferred from the positions of casket nails and of the skeleton in the ground. A captain's ceremonial staff was placed beside the coffin during the burial ceremony.

"We are confident that the remains … are those of Bartholomew Gosnold," said William M. Kelso, director of archaeology for the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, which oversees Jamestown excavations. "If we can find matching DNA, we will have done everything possible to confirm the identity of this great man."

If DNA can be obtained, the result of comparative tests will be revealed in a television documentary produced by National Geographic Television & Film. The documentary is expected to air in November 2005.

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