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Chemistry at jamestown, virginia

Technical Divisions Collaborate with scientists in your field of chemistry and stay current in your area of specialization. Explore the interesting world of science with articles, videos and more. ChemLuminary Awards Recognizing ACS local sections, divisions and other volunteers for their work in promoting chemistry. Commemorative Booklet PDF. Recent archaeological evidence reveals early Virginia, which included both the Roanoke and Jamestown colonies, as the birthplace of the American chemical enterprise.

Chemical processes first applied experimentally at Roanoke were re-introduced at Jamestown twenty years later.

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Collectively, the chemical investigations which began in Virginia, which were impelled by the demands of trade, constituted the beginning of industrial production for domestic and foreign consumption. ACS deated the birth of the American chemical enterprise at Jamestown as a National Historic Chemical Landmark on October 10,part of the celebration of the th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown.

The American chemical enterprise was characterized by the search for and application of native resources to European metallurgy, pharmacology, and perfumery. Following the closure of Jamestown as Virginia's capital inthese chemical activities moved to Williamsburg, the new capital, where they continued and proliferated. By then, several other English settlements from the modern Carolinas to Maine had been established.

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As these English colonies proliferated along the Atlantic seaboard during the 17th century following Jamestown, a similar pattern of application of European technologies to indigenous raw materials appeared. Based on local resources, these settlements established their own chemical works and traded with sister colonies for American-manufactured chemical products.

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The early Virginia settlement at Jamestown, however, represents the first appearance of European chemical processes as applied to local resources at a permanent colony. It is difficult to separate the history of Jamestown from the myths obscuring the first successful English settlement in the Americas. The most enduring story surrounds Pocahontas saving the life of Captain John Smith.

Roanoke colony

Popular history also has it that a few decades before Jamestown, in what is now North Carolina, the fledgling Roanoke colony, an English settlement of over men, women, and children, disappeared, a mystery that remains unsolved. Scholarship supported many of these myths, the most important of which held the settlers in both Roanoke and Jamestown underestimated the new environment. Further, the conventional view maintained that ill-prepared colonists sailed to America to undertake a reckless and ultimately failed search for gold or other riches. Indeed, s from early Jamestown note that most of the colony had gone crazy with its "gilded refiners" and their "golden promises.

A new narrative has emerged to challenge these assumptions. The evidence comes from archaeological excavations at both Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, location of a fort built by Roanoke colonists, and Jamestown National Historic Site and Historic Jamestowne, the two adjacent modern properties occupying ground along the James River in Virginia. These properties mark the location of the James Fort ofthe first permanent settlement of English-speaking people in North America.

Combined with historical scholarship, archaeological discoveries reveal the intersection of many interests, including English ambitions to create chemical industries involving glass and metals and a Native American trading empire within which copper was the most valued metal, imported to Virginia from the Great Lakes. Further, the English ambitions ushered in another European presence, Germans and Poles who served as glassblowers, miners, apothecaries, and other chemical practitioners.

What is more, new archaeological evidence, coupled with a re-examination of the historical record, points to early Virginia as the birthplace of the American chemical enterprise. Recent archaeological investigations at Jamestown in particular have revealed the presence of chemical tools and apparatus to detect, identify, and process natural resources for various commercial purposes.

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In early Virginia—which in stretched from Spanish Florida to modern Canada—settlers participated in carefully deed schemes to gather and export a host of resources, especially those needed to further industries in England. The English search for and exploitation of native resources for metallurgy, pharmacology, perfumery, and other applications led to the establishment of American chemical practices which eventually transformed into modern industries. Jamestown built upon the exploratory goals of the Roanoke ventures involving natural resources to assist established commercial centers in England.

Experimentation led to the first chemical industry in North America, glass production, and later metal manufacturing.

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Until recently, archaeologically-recovered artifacts of chemical processes have received relatively little attention from historians. The archaeological remains of Elizabethan chemistry, particularly, are not common; those that have been found are frequently nondescript.

These artifacts include dull glass or ceramic fragments of vessels that wore out and were discarded, making it difficult for archaeologists to date by type or function. Jamestown and Roanoke have yielded chemical artifacts, along with mining sites in the Canadian Arctic established by Martin Frobisher, who made three voyages to the New World in the late 16th century in search of the fabled Northwest Passage. At most of these European archaeological sites, tools of distillation and fire assay testing of metals for commercial viability have been found.

Evidence of distillation is not surprising, as alcohol-rich substances were produced for a variety of purposes, such as medicines and perfumes.

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Recent archaeological analysis at European sites in North America in recent years has focused on the material remains of fire assay, specifically the humble crucible and other ceramic vessels. We now know that most European crucibles and other ceramics were German-made to a very precise tolerance in order to withstand high heat, remain chemically inert, and serve dependably for repetitive processes under like conditions.

Colonists brought with them the best available apparatus. At Jamestown, the evidence of crucibles and residues of assay have highlighted the evidence for non-ferrous metallurgy c. Taken as a whole, the archaeological evidence at Jamestown and Roanoke speaks to a colonial leadership adept at mathematical learning, including astronomy and surveying, with practical skills in mining, metallurgy, and medicinal arts to serve the needs of commercial centers in England, from glass production to metal manufacturing.

The planning for chemical investigation and exploitation of natural resources at Roanoke and Jamestown had an precursor in the Martin Frobisher voyages to the Canadian Arctic known as Meta Incognita to explore the Northwest Passage. Frobisher, one of Queen Elizabeth's "sea dogs" who participated in the fight against the Armada, had a career in state-sponsored piracy and led three expeditions between to the vicinity of Baffin Island, all of which attracted the interest and involvement of state leaders, the final voyage holding the record of the largest-scale Arctic expedition to date. Potentially lucrative ores, spotted on the first voyage, were believed to contain gold or silver.

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Probably marcasite or iron pyrite, the ores were mined during Frobisher's second and third voyages, and taken to Bristol. Frobisher's voyages were characterized by astute early scientific planning, but ended in mining fraud with false assays. The ores proved worthless, despite early claims to the contrary. Nevertheless, on Kodlunarn Island, although the ceramics have not been well analyzed, identified structures include smithies with attendant charcoal-stained deposits and remains of crucibles, slag, coal, and clay. An assay office has been identified, and contains, in addition to the aforementioned substances, firebrick and rooftiles, plus a variety of crucibles.

The room's lack of smithing remains points to assay work. The Frobisher voyages must be viewed within the context of the harnessing of early chemical and metallurgical expertise in strategic planning for commercial exploitation. In a pattern that would dominate English New World exploration, and had characterized Spanish New World colonization sinceGerman mining experts managed or supervised assay work, and in the English cases, German miners performed the labor.

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Frobisher's chemical preparations included medicine. Medical practices on Frobisher's voyages, with their emphasis on chemical drugs, introduced Paracelsian practices into the New World. Given the increasing acceptance of chemical compounds as remedies for illness, it is not surprising that apothecary supplies carried on Frobisher's ships included resins such as turpentine, myrrh, and mastic, alum a stypticand copperas or green vitriol, an antiseptic.

Roanoke times, volume 10, 70, 9 december — 2

Excitement about the possibilities of establishing permanent English colonies in North America impelled Sir Walter Ralegh as he spelled his surname to acquire a patent for colonization and attempt, fromto establish a permanent colony in the section of Virginia now known as North Carolina.

Multiple attempts to establish a permanent colony failed, the last chapter occupied by the "Lost Colony," a village whose inhabitants disappeared. On the first voyage, Ralegh employed a foremost natural philosopher to reconnoiter, Thomas Hariot, whose report influenced further investment and planning for Jamestown.

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We can infer from Hariot's work that certain instruments were used to sample or assay local materials, but of all substances and potential raw materials Hariot describes, copper takes on particular importance: he records the whereabouts of copper and silver from Native Americans. He records that he saw pieces of copper "hanging in the ears of a werowance or chief lord.

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Within the Indian system of exchange, the werowance imported copper through a trade network extending to Lake Superior, but with English copper, the head chief controlled the trade, distributing it to minor chiefs. The Ralegh voyages landed colonists in multiple locations, most of which have not been located archaeologically.

Recovered artifacts include fire-blackened bricks with a concavity, probably part of a furnace used by Gans, and crucibles and pharmaceutical pots. Gans, born in Prague, came to England in and advised government leaders about developing a British-based mineral industry. Astoundingly, part of the original laboratory floor survives. Excavated inthe floor produced about 60 diagnostic artifacts representative of chemical processes. Finds include glass sherds from chemical glassware, the remains of Indian pottery used in distilling, and other fragments from stoneware jugs and crucibles.

A recovered chunk of antimony suggests assaying, as well as the high interest among Paracelsians for its putative pharmaceutical properties. Some sherds contain copper residue, including copper oxide which may have resulted from smelting local native copper. The archaeological evidence is conclusive about the presence of chemical investigation, and the interest in copper attests to English notice of the metal's commercial potential.

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The Roanoke voyages to Virginia, although they failed to establish a permanent English presence, furnished sufficient information about the tidewater region of modern North Carolina and Virginia to inform planning for the next round of attempted colonization beginning at Jamestown in The archaeological record at Jamestown—similarly to the evidence from the Frobisher voyages and Roanoke—speaks to many chemical practitioners of the era, including the apothecary, barber surgeon, physician, alchemist or metallurgist, and other metal-related trades such as refiners, goldsmiths, and blacksmiths.

Also present, based on artifacts, were artisans skilled in glass manufacture. Artifacts of the apothecary attest to vigorous experimentation with Virginia flora, and Jamestown medical practices stemmed from Paracelsians who advocated chemical drugs.

One such physician, Johannes Fleischer, a German, earned a medical degree at the University of Basel the year the Jamestown colonists departed England. Numerous drug jars, of Dutch or English origin, relate to the work of the apothecaries.

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These men, who were trained through apprenticeship, belonged to the elite both in Europe and in Virginia. Further, a medical tool for relieving constipation due to impacted fecal matter, a spatula mundani, has been recovered.