Through the Looking Glass

by Jonathan BrisendineField & Lab Archaeologist

During the excavation process, one of the common artifacts found on historic sites is glass. So what does this tell us archaeologically other than there was glass here? We classify glass in two major categories Flat and Curved. Flat glass usually pertains to window glass, while curved or hollow usually pertains to you guessed it, bottles. Once we collect all the artifacts in field they are brought back to the lab where they are cleaned then cataloged. From this we can get an accurate amount of each type of glass that was found. Because, of the detailed records we keep of the location of our testing units both the vertical and horizontal location is known. With this information we can draw meaning interpretations from even the most ubiquitous artifacts. Seen below is an imagined example of a historic foundation and the results of the statistical mapping that we could produce once we have gathered the information of the type and frequency of glass once catalogued.


Blue indicates the location where flat glass was found while green indicated where the curved hollow glass was found. What conclusions would you draw from this information? First note the brick structure. Think about structures and where flat glass would most likely be found and why. Also, think about areas of activity inside such a structure. Where would a person store & use hollow glass such as bottles. To see how we might interpret the location of the artifacts, see the image below.

GLASS FREQ image 2



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. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Through the Looking Glass

  1. Pingback: Plow Zones and Artifact Movement Within | C.A.R.T. Archaeology

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