Landscape reconstructions are now common in historical archaeology but climatic reconstructions are still infrequent. Period accounts of the Jamestown colony’s first decade indicate considerable stress that has begged satisfactory explanation. A baldcypress tree-ring study was initiated as an independent means of climatic reconstruction in the lower Chesapeake region. The findings clearly document severe drought during the first years of the Jamestown colony. The implications of these findings enrich and clarify the first-person accounts of stress due to famine, poor water quality, intercultural hostility, and extreme mortality. The results also demonstrate the value of interdisciplinary studies in historical archaeology and should encourage more routine consideration of climate as a significant factor in the historical events of the United States.
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Blanton, D.B. Drought as a factor in the Jamestown colony, 1607–1612. Hist Arch 34, 74–81 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03374329