Colonoware is a hand-made, low-fired earthenware or pottery. Both Native Americans and enslaved African Americans probably made and used colonoware between the 17th and 19th centuries. Enslaved African Americans used colonoware bowls and pots to store, cook, and serve food. The importance of colonoware varies by site. Laura Galke argues that colonoware at the Manassas National Battlefield Park sites are associated exclusively with enslaved people. In other words, colonoware at Manassas is not an indicator of ethnicity but of social status.
Archaeologists found this iron musket rest in the domestic slave quarters of Montpelier. The weight of muskets caused difficulty aiming, so gun rests increased accuracy. The location of the gun rest suggests that slaves used it for hunting to supplement their diets.
This butchered cow scapula provides evidence of the daily lives and diets of enslaved people at Mount Vernon. These bones are often smaller and of lower quality than the Washington family had, which suggests stews rather than roasts as part of a slave’s daily diet.
This pearlware tea cup was found in the House for Families at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the home of slaves that worked on the Mansion House Farm. The quality of the tea cup and damage it sustained suggests that the Washington’s gave it to an enslaved family after it had become damaged.
Additional Resources (Colonoware):
Galke, Laura J. “Ceramics: Colonoware.” Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, 2014, 1314-315. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_1337.
Galke, Laura J. “Colonowhen, Colonowho, Colonowhere, Colonowhy: Exploring the Meaning behind the Use of Colonoware Ceramics in Nineteenth-Century Manassas, Virginia.” International Journal of Historical Archaeology 13, no. 3 (2009): 303-26. doi:10.1007/s10761-009-0082-1.
Singleton, Theresa A. and Mark Bograd. “Breaking Typological Barriers: Looking for the Colono in Colonoware.” Lines That Divide: Historical Archaeologies of Race, Class, and Gender. Edited by Delle, James A., Stephen A. Mrozowski, and Robert Paynter. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2000. 3-21.
Additional Resources (Mount Vernon):
Mount Vernon Ladies Association. 2016. “Archaeological Remains of Slave Life at Mount Vernon.” Encyclopedia Virginia. Accessed July 13, 2016. http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/slide_player?mets_filename=sld3719mets.xml.
Pogue, Dennis J., Ph.D. “House for Families.” George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Accessed July 13, 2016. http://www.mountvernon.org/digital-encyclopedia/article/house-for-families/.
Thompson, Mary V. “The Private Life of George Washington’s Slaves.” PBS. Accessed July 13, 2016. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/jefferson/video/lives.html.
White, Esther. “News from Mount Vernon.” African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter 2, no. 2 (July 1995): 1-2. Accessed July 13, 2016. http://scholarworks.umass.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1570&context=adan.