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VCU Archaeology

A Tale of Two Marthas

by Bernard K. Means, Director

Yesterday, I traveled with my 2014 Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) students to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens.  We visited the archaeology laboratory, with a tour by Karen Price, the current Mount Vernon field school, led by Eleanor Breen, and the slave cemetery they are delineated, thanks to Luke Pecoraro.

Karen Price in the Mount Vernon lab.

Karen Price in the Mount Vernon lab.

Eleanor Breen gives a tour on a beautiful day!

Eleanor Breen gives a tour on a beautiful day!

Luke Pecoraro, far left, discusses delineating the slave cemetery at Mount Vernon, a volunteer excavation project.

Luke Pecoraro, far left, discusses delineating the slave cemetery at Mount Vernon, a volunteer excavation project.

I used the Sense 3D scanner on features at Mount Vernon as a test case for a future endeavor.

Scanning a delineated grave outline.

Scanning a delineated grave outline.

Although Mount Vernon is best known for its association with George Washington, he spent many years there with his loving wife, Martha Washington.

Left ulna of a passenger pigeon.

Left ulna of a passenger pigeon.

Martha had a namesake that made news the same day our field school was at Mount Vernon.  A new exhibit opened at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History displaying the stuffed remains of the last passenger pigeon, which died nearly a century ago in the Cleveland Zoo, as detailed in this article from the Washington Post.  The Virtual Curation Laboratory is working to create a digital type collection of passenger pigeon bones, on loan from the Virginia Museum of Natural History. We will present some of our research on the passenger pigeon at the International Council of Archaeozoologists meeting and at the Archeological Society of Virginia annual meeting this fall.

 

 

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