CULTURE- BUZZBOX- Local history: Michie Tavern joins 400th celebrations

Four hundred years after adventurers exploring in the name of her distant relative landed on the shores of the new world, Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, are recreating the experience. The royal couple is coming to Jamestown to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of the first permanent English settlement in the Americas in 1607.

HRH and the Prince visited Virginia 50 years ago for the 350th anniversary celebration and will be welcomed back with "true southern hospitality," according to Governor Tim Kaine. (The Queen visited Charlottesville in 1976 and spoke at the Rotunda to celebrate the nation's bicentennial.) While most of us plebian types will probably not have a chance to meet the monarch (her itinerary is still not public), there are a number of opportunities to participate in other quatercentenary events. 

Among them, the historic Michie Tavern spotlights period objects from both sides of the Atlantic as part of a guided Tavern Tour. The Jamestown Exhibit features artifacts donated from a private collection and compares everyday objects brought here by Virginia Company explorers with those used by the Native Americans who might have met the settlers when they arrived. 

Early coins from France, Spain, England, and Ireland  unearthed during archeological digs in Virginia can be seen next to Indian wampum– small cylindrical or barrel-shaped beads made of shell, bone, and stone ("wampumpeag" in Algonquin)– that were also used as a medium of exchange. A prehistoric stone used by natives to grind corn and other grains sits in contrast to the maple mortar and pestle used by the colonists. 

Other interesting artifacts include an Indian pottery vessel with the fingerprints of the artisan who made it; English engravings of Pocahontas, the favorite daughter of Chief Powhatan; a 16th-century hourglass; and a variety of pipes, pots, platters, vellum pages, and more. 

The premier event, however, takes place in and around Jamestown all next weekend. America's Anniversary Weekend features pageantry, musical performances, cultural presentations, interactive exhibits, family-oriented activities, and celebrity appearances, including, perhaps, one by our own reigning royalty, President George and Laura Bush. 

The Michie Tavern-Museum tour highlights the Jamestown 1607-2007 Commemorative Exhibit through 2007. Free to local residents. Open daily 9am-5pm. Last tour begins 4:20pm. Rt. 53/Thomas Jefferson Parkway. 977-1234.  America's Anniversary Weekend at Historic Jamestowne, Jamestown Settlement Anniversary Park, and Colonial Williamsburg happens May 11-13. Date-specific, single-day tickets can be purchased at or by calling 866-400-1607. $30 adults, $15 youth;  free for children six and under. 

Michie Tavern's exhibition highlights similarities and differences.
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