Archaeologists may have unearthed the nearly 400-year-old skeleton of America's second governor

Scientists don full-body suits to minimize disturbance of the precious artifacts uncovered in a 1617 church in Jamestown, Virginia, where a newly found skeleton awaits identification.

(CNN)Last weekend a group of archaeologists unearthed a skeleton they think belongs to the man who presided over the first representative government assembly in the Western Hemisphere.

Now, they have to prove it's really him.
Archaeologists in Jamestown, Virginia -- North America's first permanent British settlement -- began excavating the site almost two years ago. After many months of work, they spent this weekend uncovering what could be the grave of Sir George Yeardley, one of Jamestown's early leaders.
James Horn, president of the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation, is confident this is the man they think it is. Based on what they know, he said he'd be shocked if it wasn't.
    "I'd say about 90% confident," Horn said. "We want to be at 99.9%."

    How they found the buried bones

    In November 2016, the experts started excavating the site of a 1617 church, unearthing parts of its original flooring and foundations.
    After about a year of work, they discovered the first signs of what looked like a grave shaft in the church's middle aisle, said David Givens, Jamestown Rediscovery's archaeology director.
    In June, they used ground-penetrating radar to tell researchers what was below the surface without disrupting it, Givens said. In this case, the signals gave them a clear outline of the person they'd soon dig up.
    Workers begin to excavate the skeleton.
    Since then, they've been excavating the rest of the remains. They spent the weekend working 15- or 16-hour days in full-body suits -- "belted and braced," archaeo-geneticist Turi King said -- to make sure they didn't contaminate any of the artifacts.
    "It's a forensic crime scene. It's not easy work," Givens said.

    Putting the pieces together

    The skeleton the archaeologists found was in almost perfect condition, Horn said. But one thing was missing: the skull.
    Luckily, the archaeologists found a saving grace in the grave: 10 teeth, which are gold mines in learning about the diet and health of the person they belonged to. Each tooth is a data recorder, Givens said. They hold DNA, and plaque can show what foods a person ate.