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VCU Archaeology

Sturgeons, Butchered Dogs, and Wild Men at Jamestown Rediscovery

by Bernard K. Means, Project Director

bkm_20140102_115945

Scanning a Bartmann jug fragment.

The first scanning excursion of the New Year for the Virtual Curation Laboratory was to Jamestown Rediscovery on January 2, 2014. The basic goal of this scanning trip was to document faunal remains recovered from the site to add to our growing digital zooarchaeology collection, as well as select early 17th century objects. I was assisted by Jamestown Rediscovery‘s Curator of Collections Merry Outlaw. Because of some issues with our equipment, we were only able to scan three items.  We began by scanning the upper portions of a Bartmann jug. These salt-glazed stonewares were made in Germany and exported to England, before finding their way to Jamestown.  More on Jamestown’s Bartmann vessels can be found here. Some have suggested that the bearded figure on the Bartmann (bearded man) jugs may represent a mythical wild man of the forest.

The second item scanned at Jamestown was a sturgeon scute. Sturgeons do not have scales but rather have bony plates refered to as scutes.  Virginia Commonwealth University’s Rice Center is leading a project to restore the Atlantic sturgeon to the James River which, according to their web site, “played a critical role in the establishment of the first English settlement as Jamestown’s ‘founding fish’ and was (and remains) culturally significant to Native Americans throughout the region.”

Digital model of the sturgeon scute created as it is being scanned.

Digital model of the sturgeon scute created as it is being scanned.

The final object scanned this day at Jamestown Rediscovery was the butchered mandible of a dog.  The dog dates to the “Starving Times” when the Jamestown colonists in their desperation turned toward eating a wide variety of animals that were not normal parts of their diet, and also resorted to cannibalism–as witnessed in the story of “Jane.”

Dog mandible with butchering marks.

Dog mandible with butchering marks.

While at Jamestown, we presented Merry Outlaw with printed versions of objects that we had scanned on our previous visit in September 2013.  Both items are associated with early tobacco pipe maker Robert Cotton and include a smoking pipe and fragment of a clay vessel made by pressing pipe clay into the interior of an American Indian basket.

Clear (top) and white (middle) plastic printed replicas of the actual (bottom) Robert Cotton pipe.

Clear (top) and white (middle) plastic printed replicas of the actual (bottom) Robert Cotton pipe.

Further details on the Cotton pipe and an animated digital model are available here at the Virtual Curation Museum.

Merry Outlaw holds a clear plastic replica from the Cotton vessel against the original mended object.

Merry Outlaw holds a clear plastic replica from the Cotton vessel against the original mended object.

Our animation of the fragment of the Cotton vessel is also available here at the Virtual Curation Museum.

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