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Place Made:
Date Made:
tin glazed earthenware
HOA: 3″; WOA; 9″; DOA: 6 1/2″
Accession Number:
Though early seventeenth century Virginia was literally at the edge of the emerging English empire, archeology reveals that it was still enmeshed in global trade networks. Ceramics from across Europe and China have all been recovered from seventeenth century Virginia sites

This basin was found at the Maine, a settlement on Governor’s Land outside of Jamestown. In 1618 the Virginia Company instructed Governor George Yeardley to set aside 3,000 acres of land near the capital at Jamestown “to be the seat and land of the Governor of Virginia.” This land was to be farmed by tenants and provide income and support to the Governor and the Virginia Company. The tenant was generally entitled to half the fruits of their labor with the Governor and the Virginia Company splitting the remainder. The artefactual and historical record suggests that the site excavated at the Maine was inhabited for a single tenancy, from about 1618 to 1625.

Tin-glazed earthenware, often called “delftware”, was made in the Netherlands beginning in the 16th century. Its blue and white palate was meant to imitate exotic Chinese porcelain. Sherds from 106 vessels were recovered at the Maine, a sizeable number for settlement occupied for only about seven years. The recovery of sherds from sevendelft plates and seven Chinese porcelain plates from the site indicates a high level of material wealth amongst at least some of its occupants. The 1624/5 Muster counted thirty-five inhabitants at the Maine: 29 men and 6 women.

REFERENCES: Alain Charles Outlaw, “Governor’s Land: Archeology of Early Seventeenth-Century Virginia Settlements” (Charlottesville, Virginia: University of Virginia Press, 1990)

Excavated at The Maine settlement site on Governor’s Land outside of Jamestown, Virginia, between 1976-1977 by Alain Charles Outlaw and the Virginia Research Center for Archeology, a branch of the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission.
Credit Line:
Loan courtesy of Department of Historic Resources of the Commonwealth of Virginia