Saturday, July 29, 2006

Forgotten Jamestown well holds centuries-old artifacts

Forgotten Jamestown well holds centuries-old artifacts. Here is a fun history/archaeology story out of Virginia. I found it at CNN.com.

The article notes: Sometime around 1610, archaeologists figure a thirsty colonist put his brass pistol on the side of a well as he pulled up some water and accidentally knocked the weapon in. It is conjecture, but it is one explanation for a cache of rare finds they fished up Tuesday from the bottom of a 400-year-old well at an overlooked corner of Historic Jamestowne, a national park. The items included the Scottish pistol, a man's leather shoe and a small lead plaque reading "James Towne" -- the equivalent of a colonial luggage tag.

I find it fascinating that accidents like dropping items down wells (or commodes) can yield such rich historical finds! I wonder if anything I accidently lose will be preserved and tell future historians about life in the 21st century?

2 comments:

Robin said...

When I was an undergrad in college, I took an Intro to Archaeology class, and we had to suppose just this type of scenario for a project. It was fascinating and entertaining to think of how future generations would interpret "artifacts" of ours. For example, would someone from the future believe that my little coconut head purchased as a souvenir on a trip to Key West was actually an idol of some "god" I worshipped? It's unlikely, given the accessibility of information and technology now, but it gave me some great insight as to how archaeologists theorize the habits and lifestyles of past cultures.

Jennie W said...

I always like the Nacirema example:
http://www.aaanet.org/pubs/bodyrit.pdf

Students always get such a kick out of it! I taught a semester of high school anthro and I used it and only one student managed to figure it out without help. But still, they really enjoyed the discussion afterwards!