Artifact Accidentally Unearthed

Breaking news from Assistant State Archaeologist, John Mintz: 

drawknife or spoke-shave found recently at Fort Dobbs

Interesting artifacts often show up in the strangest places and at the oddest times.  On July 9, 2011, Dr. Larry Babits, Professor and Chairman of the East Carolina University Maritime History Program, and Scott Douglas, Interpreter at Fort Dobbs State Historic Site, were walking along an approximately 100-year-old drainage ditch at Fort Dobbs when they discovered a rusted piece of metal protruding from a recently eroded spoil pile.  Upon closer examination, they realized that this fragment might actually have been associated with the occupation of Fort Dobbs during the French and Indian War.  After carefully removing the artifact and recording its location, they made arrangements to have it transported to Raleigh, where, after conferring with Historic Sites Curator Martha Battle Jackson, state archaeologists arranged to have John Clauser conserve the artifact.   Expert examiners verified that this artifact is a hand-forged, wrought iron, drawknife or spoke-shave that dates to the 18th or early 19thcentury, possibly of the period of Fort Dobbs’ interpretation.

Perhaps the Fort Dobbs drawknife was similar in form to this tool when it was created.

 Accidentally unearthed treasures, such as this drawknife, are exceptions in current archaeological practice.  Field workers and researchers prefer to conduct systematic investigations of underground layers.  In fact, state laws prohibit individuals from receiving or exchanging archaeological resources found on state land.  Historic Sites managers and the NC Office of State Archaeology must always be involved in artifact recovery.  Through careful and diligent site stewardship, artifacts—whether found by design or default—can and do form important parts of collections, site interpretation, and exhibits.


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This blog will contain posts from the C2C project staff on a variety of topics related to collections care and disaster preparedness. Enjoy the posts and let us know if you would like additional information or have a topic you would like for us to address.

Posted on August 9, 2011, in collections access, guest bloggers, historic sites and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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