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Miniature Windmill

When the archaeologists excavated this object from the cellar of a blockhouse of James Fort, it just looked like a small copper alloy blob. After almost 400 years of being buried in the Virginia soil, the artifact had become completely encased with corrosive products. Conservators spent many hours cleaning the artifact before they could see a little house with a front doorway and a porch! Just an inch tall, it is very narrow with a steeply pitched roof, just like a Dutch house in the 17th century.

Archaeologists are not absolutely sure how this artifact may have been used, but they think that this was a toy windmill. The blades, now missing, probably attached through the hole in the roofline by a rod that passed through to the other side of the object. By pulling a string wrapped around the rod, you would be able to make the blades spin around. You could then rewind the string on the rod by turning the blades in the opposite direction and start all over again -- kind of like a yo-yo!

Just because the windmill is called a "toy," it doesn't necessarily mean that it belonged to a child at Jamestown. In fact, there were very few children in the colony during the first years. Toys are commonly found on archaeological sites from the colonial period that were once occupied by soldiers, who played games to pass the time when they had nothing else to do. The early colonists probably did the same thing. After all, very few of them knew how to read and, unlike today, there didn't have TV, computers, or video games to entertain them.

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