Digging through the Little Things

by Emiko Takeuchi Archaeological Laboratory Volunteer

I was looking forward to getting back to work this morning as the bags which I was handling yesterday had some interesting materials: small pieces of glass and porcelain among tiny snails and shattered quartz flakes. The bags came from TU254, Field Specimen #3638 which had three-3 liter bags of  pickings.

When I was almost finished with the second of three bags of picking materials, I saw a tiny green object among the sand and tiny rocks. I picked it up and asked the Laboratory Director, Elizabeth Paynter who was checking the drying racks in the laboratory at that time.

Tiny Glass

Tiny Glass “Seed” Bead Recovered from Excavations at the Old Colchester Park and Preserve

Elizabeth said excitedly, “a bead,” but for me, it was difficult to comprehend that it could be a bead. Mr. Christopher Sperling, a Senior Archaeologist with the Fairfax County Cultural Resource Management and Protection Branch, came to the table. He attempted to take the photo with his iPhone, but it was too small. Elizabeth said that she would use the microscope and asked me to come with her.

Under the microscope, the bead was one millimeter in diameter, and I could see the hole in the middle. I was amazed again to see how tiny the bead was. Elizabeth explained to me that the bead was from Europe, around 1600-1800.

I wondered how such a small object was made and how one would thread a one millimeter bead. Chris explained the way beads were made. I was sure this bead would be used with many different sized beads, but they must have needed hundreds of such beads to design one object.

Emiko at her picking station!

Emiko at her picking station!

Update: Emiko found another bead while working on a different Field Specimen number! This one is definitely bigger at over two millimeters.


Another, slightly larger, tiny glass bead.

About cartarchaeology

We are the County Archaeological Research Team, part of the Archaeology and Collections Branch, Resource Management Division, Fairfax County Park Authority. We are tasked with understanding and managing the cultural resources on Park land throughout Fairfax County.
This entry was posted in Archaeology, Artifacts, Volunteers and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Digging through the Little Things

  1. Pingback: Archaeology of American Life | C.A.R.T. Archaeology

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