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VCU Archaeology

From Clovis to Colonial: 3D Archaeology at George Washington’s Ferry Farm

by Bernard K. Means, VCU/Virtual Curaton Laboratory

On July 9 and 10, I was set up in the Small Finds Laboratory at George Washington’s Ferry Farm to scan pre-Contact American Indian artifacts and 18th century historic artifacts.  I started my efforts with a Paleoindian Clovis point, which dates from about 11,000 to 12,000 years ago. The Virtual Curation Laboratory has actually scanned this point in the past, but our understanding of the 3D scanning process has understandably improved over the last two years–hence, a new scan.

Clovis point during scanning.

Clovis point during scanning.

Digital model of the Clovis point.

Digital model of the Clovis point.

One-in-five artifacts recovered from George Washington’s Ferry Farm is pre-Contact American Indian, including not only chipped stone tools and debitage dating to over 10,000 years ago, but also groundstone artifacts such as discoidals, beads, and axes.

Chunkey stone during scanning.

Chunkey stone during scanning.

Grooved axe during scanning.

Grooved axe during scanning.

Partially formed digital model of the grooved axe.

Partially formed digital model of the grooved axe.

Digital model of a groundstone bead

Digital model of a groundstone bead

On June 10, 2013, George Washington Foundation interns recovered three large fragments of a Bartman (probably German for “wild” man) that physically mended.

Bartman vessel fragment found by Cate Davis (pictured) and Courtney Bowles.

Bartman vessel fragment found by Cate Davis (pictured) and Courtney Bowles.

One month later, with some assistance from Cate Davis, I scanned the three Bartman fragments that mended.

Cate Davis watches one Bartman sherd as it is scanned.

Cate Davis watches one Bartman sherd as it is scanned.

I scanned all three Bartman fragments as part of one scanning session, with the idea of digitally “mending” the three sherds.  This is certainly a more conservation- and collections-friendly way of mending than using adhesives that must be handled with care, and that generate a mended physical artifact that needs to be stored more carefully than necessary for unmended sherds.

Digital model of Bartman sherd.

Digital model of Bartman sherd.

 

 

 

 

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