Hello, I’m writing from our archaeology lab in Mount Vernon, Virginia along the lovely Potomac River just south of Washington, DC. I’m a PhD student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in historical archaeology. At Mount Vernon, George Washington’s plantation, I’m doing a pre-doctoral fellowship to digitize and put online artifacts excavated from a fantastic feature. By the end of 2012, we will be offering a website devoted to the material culture of George Washington and the enslaved individuals who lived and worked near the mansion. The archaeological record of this colonial household comes in the form of a large midden feature – chock full of 18th century ceramics, glass, beads, buttons, buckles, tobacco pipes, fish scales, I could go on and on!
Archaeologists excavated the midden feature from 1990 to 1994. George Washington's mansion is in the background.
Our vision for this project takes a material culture analytical approach that unites the archaeological record with probate inventories, a database of George Washington’s orders and invoices for goods from England, those items stocked in local stores, and even museum collections to better understand the developing consumer revolution on the part of colonial Virginians.
Want to dig deeper into George Washington’s trash? We have a blog and a facebook group!
Here’s a sample of some of the highlights of the assemblage:
Imported 18th century white ball clay figurines, minus heads.
Stoneware mug made by the "Poor Potter" of Yorktown, Virginia, ca. 1725-1745.
Sword scabbard ornament engraved with partial "GW" monogram, ca. 1778.