Article

An illustration of what the first Thanksgiving may have looked like

Illustration by Mark Fredrickson

A Pilgrim Discovery

Jim McMahon/Mapman®

You’ve probably heard the story of the Pilgrims. These settlers from England sailed to America on the Mayflower almost 400 years ago. They built Plymouth, one of the first European settlements in North America. They even hosted what many consider the first Thanksgiving feast.

Now experts are digging where the Pilgrims lived—and uncovering new clues about the famous settlers. 

You probably know the story of the Pilgrims. These settlers from England sailed to America almost 400 years ago. They built Plymouth, one of the first European settlements in North America. They even hosted what many call the first Thanksgiving.

Now experts are digging where the Pilgrims lived. They are uncovering new clues about the settlers. 

Lost Over Time

In late fall of 1620, the Pilgrims landed in what is now Massachusetts. The first winter was hard. The Pilgrims had little food. Many died. But those who survived built a village. Over time, a busy town—which still exists today—replaced the village. 

Archaeologists have dug in Plymouth before. But they’d never found remains of the Pilgrim village—until recently. Since 2013, a team led by archaeologist David Landon has been digging in the area. The team has uncovered Pilgrim artifacts. 

“We’re doing detective work,” Landon says. “We’re trying to find parts of the old settlement preserved beneath the modern town.”

In fall of 1620, the Pilgrims landed in what is now Massachusetts. The first winter was hard. The Pilgrims had little food. Many died. But those who survived built a village. Over time, a busy town replaced the village. That busy town is still there.

Archaeologists have dug in Plymouth before. But they never found pieces of the Pilgrim village—until recently. Since 2013, a team led by David Landon has been digging in the area. The team has uncovered Pilgrim artifacts.

“We’re doing detective work,” Landon says. “We’re trying to find parts of the old settlement preserved beneath the modern town.” 

Big Discoveries

One find helped the team know they had found part of the village. It was a trash pit from the 1600s. The team studied parts of the pit in a lab and learned it was from the Pilgrim time period. The items they found match what historians know about the Pilgrims from old writings, like journals. For example, they found bits of pottery. Some of it came from England, and some was made by Native Americans. Historians say that the Pilgrims traded with a tribe­ called the Wampanoag (WOMP-uh-nog). 

The team also found cow bones in the pit. The Pilgrims brought cows from England to use for food. There were no cows in the area before they arrived.  

Another find was an old garden full of fish bones. Historians say the Wampanoag taught the Pilgrims to bury fish in soil to help crops grow. “Now we have evidence that shows that,” says Landon.  

Landon and his team plan to keep digging. “We hope to find a few more pieces of the puzzle,” Landon says.

One find helped the team know they had found part of the village. It was an old trash pit. The team studied parts of the pit in a lab. They learned it was from Pilgrim times. The items they found match what historians know about the Pilgrims from old writings. For example, they found bits of pottery. Some of it came from England, and some was made by Native Americans. Historians say that the Pilgrims traded with a tribe called the Wampanoag (WOMP-uh-nog).

The team also found cow bones. The Pilgrims brought cows from England to use for food. There were no cows in the area before they came. 

Another find was an old garden full of fish bones. Historians say the Wampanoag taught the Pilgrims to bury fish in soil to help crops grow. “Now we have evidence that shows that,” says Landon. 

The team plans to keep digging. “We hope to find a few more pieces of the puzzle,” Landon says.

1. Why do you think the author chose the title “A Pilgrim Discovery”?

2. What does David Landon mean when he says “We’re doing detective work”?

3. How does the map support the article?

1. Why do you think the author chose the title “A Pilgrim Discovery”?

2. What does David Landon mean when he says “We’re doing detective work”?

3. How does the map support the article?

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