Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Artifacts from the Outbuilding

As we continue to excavate around the outbuilding feature, I thought I'd take this opportunity to share some of the artifacts that have come out of the excavations. The vast majority of the artifacts depicted here comes from the trash layer deposited directly above the building foundations and floor.

The spherical brown glass bottles discovered en masse have been returned to the lab and cleaned up a bit (see below). A total of 54 bottle necks were discovered. A close examination of the bottle fragments reveals slightly raised lines running around the outsides of each bottle -- these lines are the result of the molding process. The bottle-making process involved the transference of molten glass into a mold, which was squeezed together into a bottle shape. When the mold was removed, thin lines of glass remained where the pieces of the mold fit together. In the picture below on the right, these lines, or "mold scars," are visible on either side of the bottle necks (bottom row) and the rounded bottle bottoms (top row). The circular scars present on the bottle bottoms are indicative of the Owens machinated bottling technology, patented in 1903.

Below: An army of brown glass bottlenecks (left); three pairs of bottle necks and bottle bottoms (right)

Of course, the bottles were not the only objects to be deposited within the feature. A wealth of ceramic and glass vessel fragments have been discovered, some of which are shown below.

Above: Blue banded annular ware bowl (left); small porcelain saucer (right)
Below: Molded clear glass saucer (left); faceted transfer-printed whiteware cup (right)

These sorts of mass-produced artifacts are typical for archaeological sites dating to the recent past. However, people in the past did more than drink from cups and serve food on plates and saucers. Accordingly, we were thrilled to find more everyday sorts of objects within the ruins of the outbuilding. The artifact show below on the left is a slate pencil. The term "pencil" is something of a misnomer as the object does not actually contain lead. It is called pencil because it was a writing implement used to make marks on writing slates. This is the second slate pencil discovered this season. The object on the right, although heavily corroded, should be immediately familiar to most viewers: it is a small pair of scissors. Because of their diminutive size, the scissors were probably intended for use by a woman or a child.

Below: Slate pencil (left); scissors (right)

Last, but certainly not least, are the buttons. Black glass buttons and porcelain buttons, painted buttons and etched buttons, copper buttons and molded buttons. Before I get too Dr. Seuss-y, check just a small sample of the buttons we've found below.

Above: two faceted black glass buttons that were originally wrapped in iron wire to secure the glass to the metal shank [top], white porcelain button with pie-crust patterned edges [bottom left], and black glass button [bottom right] (left); etched black glass button with floral design [top left], corroded brass gilt button [top right], copper-alloy hook and eye set [bottom] (right)

Below: Painted porcelain button -- this artifact is particularly exciting because it is the first artifact that we've discovered which can be unequivocally linked to a resident of the Fairbanks House. The button was painted by Prudence Fairbanks (1781-1871); a set of identical buttons resides in the Fairbanks House museum.

No comments:

Post a Comment