Crucible
Crucible

This small unused crucible was made in Hesse, Germany. It stands only 5.5cm high, and at the base is only 2.7cm across. It has been mended from nine fragments to create this almost complete vessel. The refractory clay fabric (body) peppered with quartz enables the vessel to withstand very high temperatures. Triangular-shaped crucibles, the most common form found at Jamestown, were the type used in testing for gold and other precious metals because a fine stream of liquid could be poured through the slightly pointed corners. Beaker-shaped crucibles have also been found at Jamestown.

This crucible was found in Pit 1, which was filled after the Starving Time ca. 1610. Most crucibles and crucible fragments have been found in early fort period features, including the Factory, Jamestown’s First Well, and the Blacksmith Shop/Bakery. These contexts indicate that the durable vessels may have been used for a variety of tasks in the earliest years of life at the Fort. While many of the crucibles found at Jamestown still contain residues, demonstrating that they were used for metallurgical testing or glass making, this example doesn’t contain evidence of its use. It may represent the colonists’ dashed hopes at finding gold in Virginia. Another crucible, which does still contain glass residue, was also found in the same pit.