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April 13, 2007 


WILLIAMSBURG, Va., April 12, 2007–As the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia, is commemorated in 2007, a special exhibition at Jamestown Settlement places America’s first permanent English colony in a global context, portraying a larger world of discovery, strife, expansion, innovation, artistic expression and cultural exchange.           

Opening April 27, 2007, “The World of 1607” features iconic artifacts from museums, libraries and private collections in 10 countries. 

Jamestown Settlement is a living-history museum of 17th-century Virginia operated by the state’s Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation.             

The conceptual framework of “The World of 1607” exhibition and an accompanying catalog was developed in collaboration with a group of 28 internationally recognized scholars, each of whom explored an aspect of the intellectual and cultural life of peoples around the globe at the beginning of the modern era.    

The exhibition is divided into four distinct cycles, each approximately three months in duration, with its own topics and artifacts. 

The first cycle, running from April 27 to mid-July, displays more than a hundred artifacts in seven subject areas:  “Power and Identity,” “Diplomatic Gifts,” “War and Peace,” “The Marketplace,” “America in European Consciousness,” “The Classical World Reinterpreted” and “The Rise of Great Britain.”  Among objects on exhibit in the first cycle are: 

• a 15th-century copy of Magna Carta, the “great charter” negotiated by English nobility with King John in 1215 that is the basis for English common law and the American legal system.  Loaned by Viscount Coke and the Trustees of the Holkham Estate in the United Kingdom, the copy to be exhibited in “The World of 1607” is annotated by Sir Edward Coke, prominent English jurist who initiated the 1628 Petition of Right, a statement of the principles of liberty.  The same copy of Magna Carta was exhibited at Jamestown Festival Park (now known as Jamestown Settlement) in 1957 and will be displayed in the first and second cycles of “The World of 1607.”

• two objects dating to 1607, the year of Jamestown’s founding – the carved wine cup of Emperor Jahangir of India, inscribed with his titles, from the Brooklyn Museum, on loan from a private collection, and a silver gilt steeple cup made in London, courtesy of John A. Hyman and Betty C. Leviner.   

• a snaphaunce-lock fowling piece, a gift of King James I of England to King Philip III of Spain, courtesy of the Patrimonio Nacional de Espana, Madrid, Spain.  The gun was part of a shipload of hunting equipment sent by James to mark a 1604 treaty of peace that made it possible for England to establish the Virginia colony in 1607.

• a suit of Japanese armor, given in 1613 to Captain John Saris for King James I by Tokugawa Hidetada, second shogun of Japan’s Tokugawa dynasty, and the field armor of Henry Wriothesley, third Earl of Southampton, treasurer of the Virginia Company and patron of Shakespeare, possibly acquired during the Earl’s diplomatic mission to Paris in 1598, courtesy of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Armouries, Leeds, United Kingdom.           

• an English silver standing salt dating to 1611-12 and a Persian dagger and sheath dating to the first half of the 17th century, among several objects from the State Historical-Cultural Museum-Preserve, “Moscow-Kremlin.”  The salt was likely one of the gifts from King James I presented by English ambassador Sir John Merrick during his audience with Tsar Mikhail Romanov on January 1, 1615.  The dagger and sheath were presented to the tsar in 1617 by the Persian merchant Mohammed Qasim.           

• “Philip II, King of Spain, and His Children” (1583-1585) and “The Arenal at Seville” (early 17th century), paintings on loan from The Hispanic Society of America in New York.  Philip II was the most powerful ruler on earth at the time the painting was made.  Seville was the point of embarkation for colonists departing for New Spain.   

• a band of wampum beads, collected in Virginia before 1656, courtesy of the Pitt Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom.  Other eastern North American Indian items from the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford – a beaded skin pouch, two ball-headed clubs and a hardwood bow – are scheduled for the second cycle of “The World of 1607.”  All of the objects are from a collection established during the first half of the 17th century by two John Tradescants – father and son – who were naturalists and collectors.

Other objects scheduled for future exhibition cycles include:

• from the Museum of London, two of three surviving copperplate sections from the earliest known map of London and a selection of jewelry from the famed “Cheapside Hoard,” a cache of Elizabethan- and Jacobean-period jewelry and other precious objects discovered in 1912, believed to be a goldsmith’s stock-in-trade.  (Cycle II)

• an African carved ivory saltcellar and other objects from the 17th-century Royal Danish Kunstkammer, courtesy of the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen.  The earliest African objects obtained by European collectors were carved ivories created specifically for European patrons by West African artists between 1490 and 1600.  Made by a Benin artist about 1600, the saltcellar was registered in 1675 in the collection of the king of Denmark.  (Cycles III and IV)

• a French ivory compass sundial dating to the 17th century, from the British Museum in London.  The item closely matches John Smith’s description of his compass as a “round Ivory double compass Dyall … [a] Globe-like Jewell, [demonstrating] the roundness of the earth, and skies, the spheare of the Sunne, Moone, and Starres … .”  (Cycle IV)        

Second-cycle exhibition topics are “London and Jamestown in 1607,” “Virginia, 1607,” “China Under the Emperor Wanli,” “The Century of Genius,” “Cultural Encounters: Artistic Hybridization and the Catholic Missions in Asia and Latin America,” “Concepts of Time, Space and Motion in Science, Philosophy and Art” and “Rights and Nationhood: The Beginnings.”

Topics in the third cycle are “Edo and Paris: Architecture, Culture and Power in Two Cities,” “A Question of Scale: Measuring the Microcosm and the Macrocosm,” “A Cabinet of Wonder,” “All the World’s a Stage,” “Image of the Other: England and North Africa in 1607,” “Transmitting Knowledge” and “American Colonization Tracts and Other Promotional Literature.”

The fourth exhibit cycle will feature “Eastern Borderlands of Europe: The Ottomans as a World Power,” “Trouble in Russia, 1607-1613,” “Science In and From the World of Islam,” “The Age of Expansion: Treasures Saved From the Sea,” “Sub-Saharan African Kingdoms,” “New Worlds, New Scientific Instruments: Cosmology, Mathematics and Power at the Time of Jamestown” and “Church and State.”

“The World of 1607,” a signature event of the “America’s 400th Anniversary” commemoration, is located in Jamestown Settlement’s new state-of-the-art theater and special exhibition building.  Located on State Route 31 adjacent to Historic Jamestowne, site of the 1607 settlement, Jamestown Settlement is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, until 6 p.m. from June 15 through August 15.    Admission is $13.50 for adults, $6.25 for children ages 6-12.  A combination ticket is available with the Yorktown Victory Center, a museum of the American Revolution.  A separate admission ticket is required for Jamestown Settlement and special transportation arrangements apply during “America’s Anniversary Weekend,” May 11-13.

 For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838.