© Michael Lavin/AP PhotoFragments of pipes and pottery containers used in kilns during ceramic firing that was unearthed during a recent excavation at the Jamestown settlement in Jamestown, Va.
Archeologists at Jamestown have unearthed a trove of tobacco pipes personalized for a who's who of early 17th century colonial and British elites, underscoring the importance of tobacco to North America's first permanent English settlement.
The white clay pipes - actually, castoffs likely rejected during manufacturing - were crafted between 1608 and 1610 and bear the names of English politicians, social leaders, explorers, officers of the Virginia Company that financed the settlement and governors of the Virginia colony. Archeologists also found equipment used to make the pipes.
Researchers believe the pipes recovered from a well in James Fort were made to impress investors and the political elite with the financial viability of the settlement. They are likely the rejects that failed to survive the ceramic firing process in a kiln.
The find comprises more than 100 pipes or fragments. More than a dozen are stamped with diamond shapes and inscribed with the names or initials of luminaries including explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, who dispatched the colonists to the territory he named Virginia. He also is credited with popularizing tobacco in England and is said to have smoked a pipe just before being executed for treason in 1618.
Other names include Capt. Samuel Argall, a major Virginia Company investor and governor of Virginia; Sir Charles Howard, Lord High Admiral of England; and Earl of Southampton Henry Wriothesley, a Virginia Company official who was also William Shakespeare's major patron.