Archaeology: The Dig Site

If you are interested in following along with the recording, you may want to have the following supplies at hand:

Artifact Mending

 

  • A broken ceramic item: this could be a plate, a bowl, or a porcelain figurine.

 

Archaeology: The Dig Site

Archaeology

Gunston Hall is in the midst of a long term-project to make the area around the mansion look as much as possible as it did in George Mason’s day. Archaeologists look under ground for clues concerning what was going on above ground while the Masons and all other people on Gunston Hall’s grounds lived here. The clues found may be as subtle as differences in soil colors or as familiar as objects that people used in their everyday lives.

What does an archeologist do?

Gunston Hall’s archaeology staff and volunteers explore, excavate, conduct on-site lab work, prepare reports analyzing their finds, and of course, educate our visitors. During the dig season, visitors can find them on most Tuesdays-Saturdays, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at one of our dig sites. Archaeology team members are always happy to answer questions from visitors. Ask about what they are finding right now and their past discoveries.

What are we looking for?

At Gunston Hall we use archaeology to help us understand more about how the property was arranged and what activities took place here. By investigating this “landscape archaeology,” we can find clues about how the landscape was laid out. Sometimes we discover old traces of roads, buildings, fences, and plantings.

Often, we find artifacts from the time that the Masons and their enslaved workforce lived here. Broadly speaking, artifacts are buried objects that people who walked the grounds before us had dropped, placed, or discarded and can be picked up and put in a bag.

Tangible artifacts help us understand the everyday objects of people of the past. Landscape features help us understand how people used the buildings and the land. Both kinds of discoveries give us insight on the lives of those in the past.

What have we found?

So far we have found nails, slate pencils and fragments of broken slates, cooking utensils, animal bones, various buttons, jewelry, glass bottles, both complete and incomplete, and more.

We have based, in part, our decisions about what to display in the mansion and the outbuildings on the objects we have uncovered.

Curatorial

Gunston Hall is committed to an authentic presentation of the mansion and its surrounding landscape. To this end, curatorial staff are engaged in on-going research to understand better how the Masons furnished and used each room and how enslaved and indentured servants interacted with the objects and people in these spaces. Staff have based decisions on sources such as detailed architectural examinations of the house, paint analysis, and studies of furnishings in comparable homes.

Collecting at Gunston Hall serves the purpose of helping visitors better understand the material and intellectual world of the Masons, particularly George.

Archaeology at Gunston Hall

Gunston Hall is in the midst of a long term-project to make the area around the mansion look as much as possible as it did in George Mason’s day. Archaeologists look under ground for clues concerning what was going on above ground while the Masons and all other people on Gunston Hall’s grounds lived here. The clues found may be as subtle as differences in soil colors or as familiar as objects that people used in their everyday lives.

What does an archeologist do?

Gunston Hall’s archaeology staff and volunteers explore, excavate, conduct on-site lab work, prepare reports analyzing their finds, and of course, educate our visitors. During the dig season, visitors can find them on most Tuesdays-Saturdays, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at one of our dig sites. Archaeology team members are always happy to answer questions from visitors. Ask about what they are finding right now and their past discoveries.

What are we looking for?

At Gunston Hall we use archaeology to help us understand more about how the property was arranged and what activities took place here. By investigating this “landscape archaeology,” we can find clues about how the landscape was laid out. Sometimes we discover old traces of roads, buildings, fences, and plantings.

Often, we find artifacts from the time that the Masons and their enslaved workforce lived here. Broadly speaking, artifacts are buried objects that people who walked the grounds before us had dropped, placed, or discarded and can be picked up and put in a bag.

Tangible artifacts help us understand the everyday objects of people of the past. Landscape features help us understand how people used the buildings and the land. Both kinds of discoveries give us insight on the lives of those in the past.

What have we found?

So far we have found nails, slate pencils and fragments of broken slates, cooking utensils, animal bones, various buttons, jewelry, glass bottles, both complete and incomplete, and more.

We have based, in part, our decisions about what to display in the mansion and the outbuildings on the objects we have uncovered.