The Online Jamestown 

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If you don't want to battle the crowds next month at Jamestown for the 400th anniversary of the establishment of the first permanent English colony in the New World, you might want to hit the Web.

Local public-relations professional Paula Neely of Mechanicsville has been working with National Geographic for the last six months to create a comprehensive Jamestown Web site that will launch April 15 at NationalGeographic.com. It ties in to the May issue of National Geographic magazine, which features Jamestown on its cover.

The Web site will feature a 3-D reconstruction of the 400-year-old James Fort based on the latest research from archaeologist William Kelso's team at Historic Jamestowne. In the 1990s, Kelso discovered the site of the fort on Jamestown Island, and his team has unearthed millions of artifacts, ranging from pottery fragments to helmets and armor. The National Geographic site will include an interactive gallery of artifacts, along with podcast interviews conducted by Neely with various Jamestown experts.

"I actually interviewed Bill Kelso, which was a real role reversal for me," says Neely, who is also the spokesperson for APVA Preservation Virginia, a Richmond-based nonprofit that employs Kelso and co-owns and -operates Historic Jamestowne with the National Park Service.

Neely coordinated international press coverage in London when Kelso made an unsuccessful attempt to locate the bones of the sister of early Jamestown leader Bartholomew Gosnald at an English church. (Kelso was hoping to make a DNA match with a skeleton unearthed at Jamestown.)

National Geographic senior editor Chris Sloan says Neely's help has been invaluable. "As somebody very familiar with the archaeology efforts at Jamestown," Sloan says, "she brought to us a deep knowledge of the history of discoveries there, and she's also well-known in the archaeological community down there."

The magazine's May issue will include an article by "1491" author Charles Mann, a gallery of artifacts found by Kelso's team, a map supplement with Kelso's ideas of what James Fort looked like on one side and a view of the impact of European colonization on Native Americans on the other. S

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