Agricultural Hoe

Project details

  • Date

     March 6, 2015

  • Task

     Study Collection

  • Category

     Iron, Tobacco

  • Object number – 2527-JR; 2619-JR
  • Material – Iron
  • Place of Origin – Europe
  • Date – Early 17th century
  • Context – Smithfield Well
  • Location – Archaearium
  • Category – Tobacco

This hoe is a narrow, heavy type, known as a grubbing hoe, used for chopping roots out of the ground to prepare fields for tobacco cultivation. It was likely made in Europe and not by a Virginia craftsman. Because these kinds of tools were mass-produced in Europe, it would not have been economically viable for a local blacksmith to produce them. At least two of the grubbing hoes recovered at the site have marker’s marks. Unfortunately, it is impossible to trace these marker’s marks back to an individual craftsman because there is so little research on the subject.

During Jamestown’s first couple of years, emphasis was placed on employing colonists in activities profitable to the Virginia Company, rather putting energies into cultivating food. The expectation was that sustenance would come from trade with the Virginia Indians. After John Rolfe produced a successful strain of tobacco in 1613, farming became a greater priority in the colony.