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VCU Archaeology

Friday the 13th: VCU Archaeology 3D @ the Flowerdew Hundred collection

By Bernard K. Means, Project Director

Scanning of wine bottled. Left to Right: Hayden Bassett, Karen Shriver, and Clinton King.

I gave myself an extra half hour on Friday the 13th (1/13/12) to get to the location of the Flowerdew Hundred Collection, maintained by the University of Virginia Library outside Charlottesville.  Not enough time.  School buses and slow trucks were the bane of my travels—which were otherwise pleasant.  I arrived slightly late instead of very early. Clinton King was already scanning an object made available by Curator Karen Shriver—a 17th century wine bottle.  This heavily patinated wine bottle proved too great of a challenge to our scanner—we may try again at a future date by applying a fine powder coating to the bottle.

We next attempted to scan a Nottingham ware pitcher preserved in matrix with some oyster shell.  The salt-glazed stoneware pitcher dated to the middle of the 18th century.  Alas, this, too, proved too complicated an object to scan.  The scanner’s software had a problem with aligning its multiple facets.  We’ll be working on solutions to this problem as well.

Friday the 13th seemed to be plaguing us with a third object as well—a commemorative medallion uncovered by Taft Kiser.  This Prince of Orange medallion has only been recovered from a few locations in North America, including at Jamestown.  Details on their medallion can be found at: http://historicjamestowne.org/featured_find/featured_find.php?id=16

Our first two scans worked quite well—sufficient for us to confirm that the medallion dated to 1616, rather than 1615 as is officially recorded.  UVA undergraduate Hayden Bassett had suggested this earlier based on an examination of high quality photographic images, so we were glad we could corroborate his conclusion.  Hayden, by the way, was also a great help throughout the day. Unfortunately, as the scanning of the medallion continued, the scanner found it difficult to align the various scans—superimposing the back over the front.  Whether this is a software or hardware issue (or both) we’ll need to explore.

After this, our luck improved—perhaps because of the nature of the object we scanned—a pewter object with a very demonic visage.  Quite appropriate for the day!  The exact function of this demonic figurine is unclear—it may have topped a fence post.  We only had time to scan the head this trip and will do the rest of the broken object another day.

A bone die dating to the last quarter of the 17th century also scanned well.  Perhaps its gambling nature helped. This die was recovered from the Lucy Barker site (44PG77).

We ended the day by scanning part of a milk pan.  While mending, Hayden had noted the presence of finger print impressions in the now fired clay.  Because of the size of the object, we used non-traditional means to support the large and unwieldy object, James Deetz’s Flowerdew Hundred set atop volume 2 of the compact Oxford EnglishDictionary (P-Z).  After data processing, we’ll see whether the scanner picked up the finger prints.

While we were examining the Flowerdew Hundred collection, soon to be Dr. Beth Bollwerk of UVA stopped by and we had a fruitful discussion with her regarding aspects of our scanning project.

Thanks go out to our gracious colleagues at the Flowerdew Hundred collection!  We look forward to more collaboration with them in the future.

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