An analysis of the Jamestown diet

Author(s): Michelle Carpenter

Year: 2017


Our current knowledge of the historic fort of Jamestown in Virginia has developed through interpretation of the archaeological record and historical documents. The success of all colonies in the New World depended on the integral ability to produce food. Prior to developing a stable food source, the colonists at Jamestown relied heavily on those provisions they brought with them from England. We can learn about these provisions from ship manifests, colonists’ diaries, and inventory lists. Careful examination of the faunal remains found at Jamestown can potentially reveal new information that is not based on misleading historical documents. This presentation hopes to show that the diet of the colonists during the winter of 1609/1610 was altered drastically by an acute lack of food. This idea will be supported by analysis of faunal remains discarded in wells located throughout the island. These wells date as far back as 1607 until a period when the fort was more stable in food production in 1612. Stable isotope analysis of these faunal remains will reveal which were provisions the colonists brought with them from England and which were raised in the New World.

Cite this Record

An analysis of the Jamestown diet. Michelle Carpenter. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430426)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Spatial Coverage

min long: -80.815; min lat: 39.3 ; max long: -66.753; max lat: 47.398 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16350