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The irregular terrain is covered with a thick carpet of dead leaves and a scattering of bay laurels, vines and other low plants.

The land rises several feet higher than the thousands of surrounding acres, wetlands so thick with vegetation that they are almost impassable.

Few parts of the United States can match the influence of historic Hampton Roads when it comes to the birth and development of the field of historical archaeology.

Here's a collection of images from some of the region's most prominent projects, ranging from pioneering early 1900s digs at Jamestown and Williamsburg to the 2002-03 discovery of the paramount Powhatan Indian village at Werowocomoco on the York River.

Native Americans hunted this area thousands of years before European settlement, when it was a great reach of open marsh.

William & Mary archaeologist Martin Gallivan (green cap) says a century of archaeology will be necessary to do justice to the site.

* The high ground they came to see appeared at first glance to be bereft of all activity - save for the marks of a black bear's powerful claws in a tree. Buried in the earth are what are believed to be remnants of one or more communities of escaped slaves, known as maroons, who built homes and carved out lives where their freedom depended on secrecy.

Researchers now think settlements may have existed there on and off for hundreds of years; their occupants relying on the swamp's forbidding conditions to give safe haven from those who wanted to return them to chains.

By the early 21st century Virginia was among the most prosperous states in the South and in the country as a whole.

Its northern counties reflect the cosmopolitan character of the country’s capital, and Civil War.