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HomeThe DigDecember 2011
Where are We Digging Now?

Air abrasion - Goffering Iron
Conservator Dan Gamble air abrading the goffering iron
In the air abrasion room, conservator Dan Gamble was cleaning a goffering iron - a hollow cylindrical iron tool that was heated and used with starch to iron the stylish neck ruffs worn by men and women in the early 17th century. The air abrasion machine allows Dan to remove the rust or iron oxide buildup on the exterior of the artifact with a focused stream of fine aluminum oxide powder. The presence of this and other goffering irons at the James Fort site demonstrates that appearance was an important indication of status in the Jamestown society, just as it had been in England.

Cataloguing Artifacts
Curatorial assistant Merry Outlaw catalogues artifacts
Nearby, curatorial assistant Merry Outlaw catalogued artifacts found this year in the postholes of a mid-17th-century building located towards the northern end of James Fort. Using the ReDiscovery electronic database, Merry may catalogue several hundred artifacts in an average day's work. Nearly two million artifacts found by Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists since 1994 have been catalogued in this manner.

Microscope and Scalpel
Senior conservator Michael Lavin uses a microscope and scalpel
Senior conservator Michael Lavin used a microscope and scalpel to remove a concretion adhering to a square piece of flat copper found earlier this year in a posthole associated with a James Fort period (ca. 1607-1624) building. This object may have been one of the "squares of copper" that John Smith recorded trading to the Indians for corn. Click here to see a British Museum image of a 16th-century Indian leader wearing a similar object.

Labeling Artifacts
Staff archaeologist Don Warmke labels artifacts
At one of the artifact sorting tables, staff archaeologist Don Warmke labeled fragments of pipes and pottery with their context numbers. Numbering is important not only to keep track of where the objects were found but because the fragments may mend to pieces of the same broken vessel or pipe found in other contexts. Archaeologists term this process cross-mending, which provides relationships between different areas of the dig site.

Although the field crew has transitioned from the dig site to working indoors for the winter months, when there are extended periods of good weather, the 1608 church site will be opened for visitors.

Excavation of the Copper Plate
Staff archaeologist Mary Anna Richardson excavates the copper plate
Archaeologists Uncovering the Site
Archaeologists uncovering the site on a winter day
Air abrasion - Goffering Iron
A goffering iron after conservation
Example of a 17th-Century Man Wearing a Ruffled Collar
Link to a painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of a 17th-century man wearing a ruffled collar

Other Updates:


What Have We Found?
Featured Find

Featured Tours
In the Trenches
In the Trenches Curator's Artifact Tour
Curator's Artifact Tour

Jane, The Book and Video

Jamestown: The Buried Truth

America in 1607: Jamestown and the Powhatan

Jamestown Rediscovery Preservation Virginia Colonial Williamsburg National Park Service 757-229-4997
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