Digging by the River

Featured Fragment—Riverfront Park

During the summer of 2013 Dovetail conducted excavations at the Riverfront Park in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Many cultural features were identified, including a large icehouse which served the residents of Fredericksburg. While excavation of this feature produced a plethora of artifacts, one particular piece of ceramic is highlighted in this blog to showcase how archaeologists use tiny fragments to look at the bigger picture and determine, in many cases, the type of vessel the piece originated from. Below is a small fragment of an overglazed printed creamware which was popular beginning in the 1760s. This particular piece is printed with a Corinthian column and even though only a small portion of the column is visible, archaeolgoists were able to identify the motif once depicted on the vessel. The ‘classical ruins’ motif was found on bowls as well as trenchers and was a direct reflection of the neoclassical revival being embraced by everyone beginning in the mid-eighteenth century (Kaktins 2015). Surviving pieces can still be found today on auction websites.

This type of research and analysis is a common component of archaeological work. Knowing how artifacts relate to a site and its occupants, is key to understanding site history as well as overarching historic patterns.

full platter Creamware copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Glowing Glass Discovery

Featured Fragment—Vaseline Glass

In a recent excavation Dovetail Cultural Resource group found several fragments of what is known as Vaseline glass. This glass ranges in color from yellow to green and was manufactured from the 1840s to 1940. What is interesting about this type of glass is it was made with Uranium, which is the reason for its distinctive color. This type of glass was produced until WWII at which time the shortage of Uranium put an end to its production. What is the best way to identify Vaseline glass? If put under a black light, the glass will light up. The Uranium makes the glass emit radiation and glow, or a Geiger counter can be used to determine whether it is radioactive. The vessel found by Dovetail registered at 0.15 milliroentgens per hour. Is this a dangerous level? No, the amount put out by this type of glass is small and not harmful.

Image of Vaseline Glass. On left: yellow tumbler base and body fragment. One right: tumbler under black light.

Image of Vaseline Glass. On left: yellow tumbler base and body fragment. One right: tumbler under black light.

 

Joe Blondino using Geiger counter on Vaseline glass.

Joe Blondino using Geiger counter on Vaseline glass.

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Informative links:

http://www.vaselineglass.org/?page_id=56

Time Keeps Ticking

Featured Fragment – Houston-LeCompt Site clock parts

Clocks have been an integral role in the home for centuries. Measuring time was needed for many aspects of home life but clocks were also used to display status. As Richardson Wright said in 1927, “It is said that the house of every substantial farmer in the days following the Revolution had three ornaments—a polygot bible, a tine reflector and a wooden clock” (Smith 1997). During the late-eighteenth century, people were beginning to purchase things like knives, forks, looking glasses and clocks to create the look and feel of a more gentile surrounding within their middling households (Bushman 1993). This circulation increased with great enthusiasm in the first half of the nineteenth century (Bushman 1993).

(Left) 1896 Advertisement from Oskamp Nolting & Co. Publications showing one style of Ansonia Alarm Clock (ebay 2014). (Right) Circa 1910 Ansonia Clock (National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors 2014).

(Left) 1896 Advertisement from Oskamp Nolting & Co. Publications showing one style of Ansonia Alarm Clock (ebay 2014). (Right) Circa 1910 Ansonia Clock (National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors 2014).

 

The clock parts shown below were recovered during the excavation of the Houston-LeCompt site in Delaware. These items represent various internal parts of an Ansonia alarm clock dating to the late-nineteenth through early-twentieth century. Clock parts are found on my archaeological sites although, not typically in great numbers. The high density of parts from the Houston-LeCompt site are attributed to the alarm clock possibly breaking and subsequently having its parts spread across the site.

Sample of Late-Nineteenth and Early-Twentieth Century Clock Parts from the Houston-LeCompt Site, Delaware.

Sample of Late-Nineteenth and Early-Twentieth Century Clock Parts from the Houston-LeCompt Site, Delaware.

Recovered for the Delaware Department of Transportation and the FHWA

 

Any distributions of blog content, including text or images, should reference this blog in full citation. Data contained herein is the property of Dovetail Cultural Resource Group and its affiliates.