Revisiting, and Revising, a Very Familiar Legend (Pocahontas Documentary/Nova)

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She was bright and curious, probably between 10 and 14. He was a cocky adventurer, short and hairy, about 28 when they met.

They were Pocahontas and Capt. John Smith. Many details of their lives remain unknown, despite their often controversial branding as a fabulous multicultural couple. Most historians say it was unlikely that they were lovers, although legend has it that she saved him from death at the hands of her people. The two connected near the Jamestown colony of Virginia within a year of its founding in 1607.

Tonight the documentary “Pocahontas Revealed,” part of the “Nova” science series on PBS, uses science to examine more broadly the lives of both Native Americans and the 17th-century newcomers to their land.

The documentary, which relies heavily on dramatic re-enactment, turns to the archaeological site at Werowocomoco, a village about 17 miles north of Jamestown. Archaeologists declared about four years ago that this 45-acre site, on private land on Purtan Bay, was the seat of power for Pocahontas’s father, Chief Powhatan, whose domain of more than 30 tribes encompassed much of coastal Virginia. “Nova” received exclusive access to the excavation from the team of archaeologists from the College of William and Mary.

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