As archaeologists, we focus on studying the past by examining the items previous humans have left behind. Anything that has been made or changed by someone in the past is therefore considered to be an artifact. When you think of stone artifacts, the first thing that usually comes to mind are arrowheads. Arrowheads and spearheads … Continue reading When is a rock also an artifact?
Such a tiny thing, a letter. What does it mean now? For many of us, a letter via 'snail mail' is a nuisance. Needless paper that litters our mailbox. Ads. Spam. Bills. Scams (most of which are electronic now and also a pain). Mail has been ruined for most of us with the sheer barrage … Continue reading Letters from the Battlefield
As a Historic Preservation major at the University of Mary Washington, I spend a lot of time studying objects from the past. Through my courses, I have learned that common, everyday objects are often able to reflect the values of the people that created and used them. I kept this in mind during my internship … Continue reading Put A Lid On it: Mason Jars and Home Canning in America
It can be daunting to look at a blank space and realize you are in charge of filling it. And not just filling it, you need to create something that will leave a lasting impression on the public. The process of creating an exhibit is much more complicated than it seems. From the initial idea … Continue reading Behind the Glass of the Archaeology Lab: Creating an Exhibit
On a typical day at George Washington’s Boyhood Home at Ferry Farm, visitors experiencing the house tour are ushered into the main hall upon which a dining table is set out before them with 18th-century reproductions of plates, glassware, wine bottles, and serving dishes. This setting creates an interactive experience for our visitors, transporting them … Continue reading Dig These Dishes! We Recreate an 18th Century Table Setting Using Only Artifacts.
A lot of people don’t realize how many 20th century artifacts we excavate at George Washington’s Ferry Farm. Up until the 1990s, families lived and farmed on the property, leaving tens of thousands of artifacts behind. Some of our favorite modern artifacts are the toys we recover, whether marbles, plastic army and cowboy figurines, doll … Continue reading Playing Around: 20th Century Die-Cast Toys Excavated at Ferry Farm
During the Civil War, George Washington’s Ferry Farm was the site of Union Army encampments that included some defensive works like a trench dug into the crest of the ridge overlooking the river. In that trench and throughout Ferry Farm’s landscape, Union soldiers lost and threw away a wide array of military gear and personal … Continue reading Bad Medicines: Mercury and Self-Medication in the Civil War
It’s hard to believe that there was once a time when products weren’t covered in labels listing all their ingredients in great detail. We are used to labels promising the absence of unhealthy chemicals. We are accustomed to labels warning when a product was packaged in the same facility as an allergen. Product safety is … Continue reading Bad Medicines: Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup
‘Haughty’ is not a word used often to describe artifacts. That is, of course, unless the artifact in question is a glass wax seal stamp with a kind of snooty message on it. Of diminutive size (smaller than a dime) with a pretty little flower in the center it proclaims in reversed letters “I Look … Continue reading “I Look Not On Things Beneath Me”: Our Snobbiest Artifact, a Wax Seal Stamp That Needs To Dial Back that Sass
Historic Kenmore is known for the unique decorative plasterwork seen on many of its ceilings. However, some of its most unusual pieces of plaster were discovered during repair work being done in 1989. These were pieces of plaster that contained large clumps of animal hair and newspaper. An inspection of this plaster, considering an architectural … Continue reading Mickey Owen Was Found in the Plaster!: A Look at Some Curious Inclusions Found in Plaster from Historic Kenmore