[Illustration: Harvesting tobacco at Jamestown, about 1650. (Painting by Sidney E. King.)]
[Illustration: CHILDRENS’ games depicted on Dutch delftware fireplace tiles are very similar to the games children play today. The tiles were made in Holland almost 300 years ago.]
A few ivory fragments that have been excavated appear to be parts of dice and chessmen. Chess was popular during the 17th century, and many dice games, including even and odd, hazard, passage, mumchance, and novem were played.
Other games which undoubtedly were played in many Jamestown homes were tick-tack, backgammon, Irish, and cards. Card games were popular, especially primero, trump, piquet, saint, and decoy.
Many 17th-century fireplace tiles in the Jamestown collection are decorated with charming little pictures depicting children’s games. Activities portrayed include skating, bowling, spinning tops, fishing, rolling hoops, using a yo-yo, swinging, wrestling, skipping rope, shooting, playing skittles, riding a hobby horse, sledding, boxing, and playing musical instruments. These pictures remind us that games played by boys and girls today are very similar to those enjoyed by children three centuries ago.
[Illustration: Archeological explorations revealed that the colonists enjoyed archery. The iron lever Shown, known as A “Goat’s foot,” Was used for setting the string of A light hunting crossbow. It was found 4 miles from Jamestown. Illustration showing the use of A “Goat’s foot” From Weapons, A Pictorial History by Edwin Tunis.]
One interesting item relating to archery has been found 4 miles from Jamestown. Known as a “goat’s foot,” it is an iron lever which was used for pulling back and setting the string of a light hunting crossbow.
Contemporary records indicate that hunting game birds and animals was a popular New World diversion. Such sport served a twofold purpose, as it offered recreation to the settler and helped provide food for his table. Parts of early fowling pieces and numerous lead birdshot (called goose or swan shot during the early years of the 17th century) have been recovered.
A large assortment of iron and brass Jew’s harps (also known as Jew’s trumps) have been found. This small instrument is lyre-shaped, and when placed between the teeth gives tones from a bent metal tongue when struck by the finger. Modulation of tone is produced by changing the size and shape of the mouth cavity.