Dr. Levin in isolation suit to protect Yeardley’s jaw specimen from DNA contamination.

At Jamestown, a team of archaeologists have exhumed the skull and teeth that may belong to Sir George Yeardley. He is best known for his role as a colonial governor who presided over the first representative assembly in the Western hemisphere. He was also one of America’s first slave owners. Yeardley died in 1627 at the age of 39 and was possibly buried in the second church’s central aisle – a place of honor.

The burial site was excavated by a team of archaeologists led by David Givens from Jamestown Rediscovery, museum curator Michael Lavin and forensic anthropologists from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, led by Dr. Doug Owsley. They were joined by geneticist and archaeologist Turi King, from the University of Leicester. Dr. Levin assisted in the identification of the mandible and teeth found at the church. Additional scientific assessment to determine if the remains were Yeardley’s will be conducted in the coming months. Dr. D. Joshua Cohen, a scientist at Virginia Commonwealth University, will perform additional studies using micro-CT and scanning electron microscopy.