Recently, archaeologists at George Washington’s Ferry Farm came across an odd glass fragment in our collection. We poured over it, passing it from person to person trying to figure out what it was. Then came the ‘ah-ha’ moment: it was a gun barrel. That’s odd, right? Turns out it isn’t. This story starts in the … Continue reading Glass Guns: A Late 19th/Early 20th Century Phenomenon
Old, crushed, and rusted food cans in and of themselves aren’t terribly interesting, at least not to me. But when the can contains 150-year-old bullets, it becomes very interesting indeed. Recently, while going through our artifact collection database, I came across an item excavated at George Washington’s Ferry Farm nearly 20 years ago and simply … Continue reading Chock Full o’ Minie Balls: A Civil War Mystery
Twenty years ago, archaeologists digging at George Washington’s Ferry Farm unearthed the remains of a mid-eighteenth century kitchen. It was immediately obvious from the state of the artifacts that this kitchen had not simply fallen into to ruin and been abandoned – it had burned down. While this is fairly interesting in and of itself, … Continue reading Some Like it Hot …But Probably Not This Hot: The Archaeology of a (BIG!) Fire
The heavily worn coin, known as a “black dogg” and pictured above, is a unique archaeological find at George Washington's Ferry Farm. It was originally circulated in the French Caribbean and certainly traveled some distance to find its way to British Virginia. The coin may have traveled this distance in the pocket of a sailor … Continue reading The Tale of the “Black Dogg”
Before there were planes, trains, and automobiles, and other engine-driven devices, people of the 18th, 19th and early-20th centuries used horses, mules, and other four-legged draft animals to transport themselves, pull their wagons and carriages, and help manage the chores of farm and rural life. Just like the time and expense we currently spend on … Continue reading The Mystery of the Mane Comb
"THE BLOOD IS THE LIFE!" ACCOMPLISHED AT LAST! THE EFFICACY OF ELECTRICITY!! Nearly all Diseases Effectually Cured by BOYD’S MINIATURE GALVANIC BATTERY! This is the opening pitch of an 1879 advertising circular for a popular medical medallion called a Boyd’s Battery. The battery was a disc, about 1¼ inch in diameter, meant to hang from … Continue reading Finding a Boyd’s Battery: An “Electrifying” Ferry Farm Story
Let’s do our tacks! I know you’ve been dreading doing your tacks, and putting it off as long as you could, but time is running out. It is time to do our tacks, friends. Whether iron alloy or copper alloy, tacks provide important clues to the presence of upholstered furniture, trunks, and horse tack at … Continue reading Tacks-ation without Representation
Mara Kaktins, archaeology lab supervisor at George Washington's Ferry Farm, explains the weird patination on some glass artifacts excavated by our archaeologists. For other "Inside the Archaeology Lab" videos, visit the Archaeology at George Washington's Ferry Farm playlist our YouTube channel.
With building work on the reconstructed Washington family home at George Washington's Ferry Farm nearly finished, our archaeologists are in the midst of identifying Washington-owned plates, bowls, glasses, and other household artifacts to be used to furnish the house once construction is finally complete. While working to identify things, archaeologists sometimes encounter a "mystery artifact" … Continue reading What Is This Artifact?
Thimbles were once a popular token of affection given to ladies by family members, close acquaintances, or sanguine suitors. These essential tools formed an ideal gift for a beloved family member or an appropriate token of affection during those early, initial stages of a budding romance. They were considered a less intimate gift than perfume … Continue reading A Thimble of My Love