Artifacts

By Bailey, J. Todd | Thomas Wolfe Review, Annual 2006 | Go to article overview

Artifacts


Bailey, J. Todd, Thomas Wolfe Review


Tom Beaman's "Bringing the Thomas Wolfe Artifact Collections 'Home Again,'" along with five color photographs, appears in Common Ground (Fall 2006), a publication of the Coe Foundation for Archaeological Research in Raleigh, North Carolina. Beaman reports on his and other archaeologists' work looking at artifacts from the Thomas Wolfe Memorial in Asheville. Previous examination accompanied by a lack of funding had yielded no results, and this "second look" was part of a cooperative partnership between the Office of State Archaeology Research Center and the Division of State Historic Sites and Properties. The artifacts were from six of seven previous archaeological investigations, and of the more than 47,000 artifacts documented, the "overwhelming majority (n=45,661) and the most revealing about daily life in the Wolfe household" were recovered from the cistern located under the porch (4). The cistern was abandoned early in the twentieth century with the advent of Asheville's water supply and thereafter filled with discarded items. Beaman notes various types of artifacts:

   broken ceramic dishes; household construction materials
   such as nails, window panes, slate roofing tiles; evidence
   of food remains, from animal bones to peach and
   cherry pits; to items of a more personal nature, such as
   the cover of a pocket watch, an eyeglass lens, an early
   device for feminine hygiene, and a child's porcelain
   doll. (5)

Beaman states that "perhaps the most impressive artifacts recovered from the Wolfe cistern were the thousands of whole and broken bottles." He writes:

   These bottles were sorted and classified by function.
   The kitchen-related bottles dominated the collection,
   and included bottles for beer (n=114), chemicals (e.g.,
   ammonia and other cleaning materials, n=8), culinary
   sauces and extracts (n=101), various alcoholic liquors
   (n=248), milk (n=107), pharmaceutical/medicines (n=
   605), soda (n=99), mineral water (n=21), and wine (n=
   94). … 

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