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VCU Archaeology

Ten Gallon Memories: Scanning at George Washington’s Ferry Farm

by Beth Reid

Courtney Bowles (left) and Beth Reid (right) work to scan an artifact in Ferry Farm’s small finds laboratory.

Courtney Bowles and I met after acquiring coffee on Friday, April 6, and drove to Stafford County to assist Dr. Means with scanning artifacts recovered from George Washington’s Ferry Farm site in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The day was sunny but unpleasantly crisp and gusty.  The tour of the grounds was brief to minimize unnecessary suffering, but I was excited to see where we would be spending our summer during the upcoming Ferry Farm field school, when it will be warmer and more reasonable.  The site overlooks the Rappahannock River where a ferry used to ship passengers back and forth, hence the property’s namesake.  Along with 11 other VCU students, I will be digging as part of a field school focused on archaeology associated with George Washington and his family.

Beth Reid prepares a marble for scanning.

Artifact analyst and archaeology field director Laura Galke provided artifacts from the Ferry Farm collections to scan for the day with our 3D scanner.  We scanned three marbles, two of which were limestone and the third was made of clay.  Many marbles at the time were manufactured and imported from Germany. The clay marble, because it was found in the root cellar of the Washington home, is most certainly from that family.  It was very exciting to behold one of the lost marbles of George Washington.



Preparing the mended colonoware vessel for scanning.

A very delicate bone hair brush dating to around 1780 was also a unique find. The brush had 3 rows of 11 hand drilled holes for the bristles. The type of brush is one of the earliest examples of its kind, one that maintained living hair.  Previously, only combs were used for this purpose.  A mended colonoware bowl fragment was also processed and the porcelain monk’s head from a previous post was rescanned. A lock from a US Model 1861 Springfield rifled musket was on the scan itinerary as well. It was originally discarded due to a failure of the main spring.  This object did not scan well due to its complexity.

Another marvelous specimen discovered that very day was a tall gentleman with an enormous Texas-style ten gallon hat, but we minded our manners and refrained from scanning him.

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