by Bernard K. Means, Director, Virtual Curation Laboratory
On Saturday, May 25, I was at George Washington’s Ferry Farm to use our laser scanner to create digital models of artifacts recovered at that site. Ferry Farm that day was celebrating and memorializing World War II, including with reenactors dressed in period military uniforms. The reenactors set up a small camp site, complete with a jeep and World War II bike, but did make forays over to the public dig location. The archaeologists at Ferry Farm, including three VCU students who also work with the Virtual Curation Laboratory during the academic year, were busy excavating and documenting a wide range of features. The excavations that day were an extension of the public programs tied to the Memorial Day celebrations, as were my own scanning efforts.
I set up in the Small Finds Laboratory at Ferry Farm for my scanning efforts. The Small Finds Laboratory has a nice large window that allows visitors to view analysts at work. In addition to setting up the 3D scanner in front of the window, I also placed a selection of plastic replicas that we have made from the 3D models we have created. These include models made from artifacts recovered as close as a few hundred feet from the Small Finds Laboratory to some found thousands of miles away in southern Africa. My primary focus was to scan some of the American Indian artifacts recovered at Ferry Farm, although I also scanned a groundhog skull found last year in the base of a shovel test pit (STP) from an earlier phase of excavations at the site. I did take time, in honor of Memorial Day, to scan a green plastic army man who was depicted as firing a bazooka. This was the second army man that we scanned at Ferry Farm, and both were actually recovered during archaeological investigations. These toy soldiers were associated with a 20th century family that lived atop the Washington family landscape.
The other toy soldier that we scanned and that was recovered archaeologically at Ferry Farm appears to represent a man leading troops into battle, while holding an M-16 rifle.
Children (and adults) from earlier generations also played with figurines that represent military men. Below is a World War I doughboy toy soldier made of lead and recovered at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest.