by Ruth Martin, VCU student
The third week of field school has come and gone. On Monday we had a wonderful field trip to Mount Vernon. While visiting Mount Vernon we popped into the lab and took a closer look at a few different artifacts that had been laid out. There were pieces of ceramics, pieces of metal and in peculiar very cool plate fragments mended together. We were then shown the storage area for artifacts. This room was mainly full of boxes filled with finds from the site. The interesting thing about Mount Vernon’s archives was that there was a area just for furniture located upstairs.
Moving towards the Mansion we were told that the color of the Mansion had been changed from a white to an off white color. This is because some research was done and they realized that that the sand coating used on the Mansion would not have been bleached white in George Washington’s time(the mansion is finished in a sand coating).
Next we visited a couple units that were being excavated near the house. We got the run down on the techniques used at Mount Vernon verses the techniques used at Ferry Farm(because every site does things a little bit differently). At Ferry farm we use five by five foot units to excavate. At Mount Vernon they use ten by ten feet units. Another intriguing difference is the way Mount Vernon interprets it’s layer contexts. At Mount Vernon they dig layers until they see a change in color and then change context(this is pretty normal), however, instead of having assigned named contexts they send everything to the lab before interpreting the context. At Ferry Farm our layers have assigned context labels such as Topsoil, 20th Century, Antebellum, Colonial, and Subsoil.
The rest of the week was spent on site and with Gorge Washington doing paperwork. Stephanie and I finally made it to the colonial layer, yay! though as we were arriving at that layer the amount of artifacts were becoming increasingly thin. However, I did not get to finish that unit with Stephanie; for no sooner than we had started into colonial layer that I was given a new unit and partner. I started working with Ryan in the 20th century layer. Ryan found a very cool toy truck and we found some usual plastics bits. We also found a huge piece of German Stoneware. It is very thick, which may indicate that it was used for a milk jug or a chamber pot.
Ryan and I finished the 20th century on Friday. We are all set to start the antebellum layer and will hopefully recover a ton of wig curlers!