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tv   American Artifacts Archaeology at George Washingtons Alexandria Property  CSPAN  December 29, 2018 10:40am-11:01am EST

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american. -- of apollo up eight can be expressed by telegram. you saved,d thanks, 1968. the entire commemoration this tuesday at 8:00 p.m.. you're watching american history tv all -- only on c-span3. in addition to the mount vernon river, along the potomac george washington owned a townhouse in the heart of alexandria, virginia. the current owner of the property, rick garcia, talks about his family's connection to the washington's and they recently discovered wells. we also visited the alexandria archaeology museum to see some
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of the artifacts that have been uncovered. >> we are in alexandria virginia. house that was built by george washington in 1767 and then it stayed in the washington family. when martha washington die, it went back to the washington which had been controlled by lawrence washington. the original was held in 1749. the second auction was held in 1763 and george washington bought two of them. one lot was 112. lot 118 was purchased for 10,000. this one was purchased for 38,000. george washington was a good businessman. when he purchased the lot, he purchased it when it meant
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something to him. there were two sleighs in the city of alexandria. the other was on oracle day. -- george washington new the importance of surveying and he knew the importance of location. he makes the decision on what you need and what is going to make the most money from -- for him. lot inther had bought a 1749. build athat he had to house on this lot within two years. that is the townhouse that was built in 1769. in 1797, george washington asked a friend if he would help divide the lot. they made nine parcels.
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the lot did not end up in nine parcels. it ended up being a parcels. the lot behind us, there were two, instead of three. parcel stayed in the washington estate until washington really pushed control. -- relentless control. it is signed by george washington. it was signed for months before his death. leave look care, it says washington and wife. dated eight, september, 1999. came, the vernon director of archaeologist said he and never seen anything like it. this document is some by george -- signed by george washington,
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martha washington and by george washington secretary, george washington's stepson, and john anderson, his mander -- his manager at his farm in mount vernon. he was the least are of the property. it is signed by two gentlemen and john anderson again. john anderson signed it twice. that is the document that is signed by the -- the key players at mount vernon that has never been seen by mount vernon are anyone else. you are the first on camera to see this document. it is a fantastic document. these are original silhouettes of george and martha washington. this is hand written in george washington's handwriting. the document itself was put together by an attorney on august 8, 1799.
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when it was put together, the weser signed it. on september 8, when george washington wrote this, him and martha and john anderson signed it. you can see the difference in the pan. this was all done in a dark pen and these on the bottom are done in a lighter pen. three months before his death he has the exact same seal that is on his will. he only wrote nine letters from the time this was written until he died three months later. four of those letters were written to alexander hamilton, two of the letters were written into his secretary of war, and one was written to a personal friend of his. this is a document that has never been seen, that is now in this home and it will be prominently placed here and always be with the health -- house, even if it sells. i grew up in alexandria. i have had nine homes in the city of alexandria. i married a beautiful woman and my wife is related to george washington.
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we were in the house on duke street and we had run out of room. we had our third daughter and we needed more space. we started to look. when i was at church at st. paul's episcopal church, i talked to one of the members and told her i was looking to move. she said there is a property across the street that you might want to look at. i asked her about the house and my wife and i came by the house. we took a walk across the street, took a five minute tour of the house and put a contract on the house. the historian wanted it to get back into the washington property and name, we had to show my wife she is related to george washington, and washington had children. george washington was from the lawrence washington line.
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we have been living here five years and we had run out of space in the house. my wife and i made a decision to do an analysis. we went to the city and asked the board of architectural review and looked into the corporate -- looked into the requirements are we cannot build up so we had to build down and we hired an architect and engineer. the engineer broke through the wall right below us and we dug down five feet, than six feet, when we went down into the basement to look around, there was a crawlspace about 11 inches. i looked around with a flashlight. when you look to the left, there was a depression in the corner where the new addition had been put. i crawled back to it and i moved all of the dirt away and we found a brick well. i called the archaeologist for
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the city of alexandria and my wife and i are both historians. my wife is an art history major and we lie to get the city involved right away. i think it is important. we have had friends that have done the same things and that same process of digging in their basement. the dead the basement without letting the city know what was going on. a lot of arqule fines were missed i think. my wife and i did not want that to happen. once we found the first well, we found -- we dug five feet to the will, one we looked over to the right, we saw a second well. the archaeologist, at that point in time, called mount vernon and mount vernon sent their director of archaeology over. we started to dig on well number one. the highlights are that, number one, we got the city involved and we got mount vernon involved, and the community as a whole has come together. the city papers are posting articles about what is happening here in alexandria, especially what is happening here with the
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renovations and the excavations below us. it has been a fun process because i have become a archaeology 101 student, to tell you the truth. we have dug down, we are about three quarters of the way through the excavation renault -- the excavation right now. finding the artifacts, we found probably over 2500 artifacts. the artifacts are from the late 1700s all the way up into the 1920's when the addition that we are sitting in was put up. about 90% of anything we find we will give to the city of alexandria and mount vernon. 10% of the stuff my wife really enjoys. money, marbles, shards of pottery. it is very important that people who are stewards of property understand that they have a responsibility to give back to the community. that is what my wife and i are
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trying to do. we are down here in the basement. we are underneath the addition to the house. the process, as it are digging out the basement, the archaeologists have been allowed to come in and do some of the excavations of the well features. we have actually completed the well that was once standing right here. i am standing where that well was. we have excavated that and completed that. we are still in the process of excavating the other well. come over here with me, you can see. we will show what we are doing. we are essentially taking a half of this well out. we can see the layers of soil that are in here. we can sift all that soil, we bucket it out and sift it up top. what we are looking at is the soil that were placed into the well after it was no longer in use.
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been over here we remove the dirt. sometimes we use shovels if it becomes difficult to move. this is a layer, you can tell that this has a lot of clay soil in it. this has been a leader that was probably, purposefully created by filling in with clay so that the well would not be a hazard. it would stay capped. we are getting down to close to the bottom. if you pan down and look towards where ben's feet are, you can see the edge of the brick that is still in place down here. we have not dismantled those yet. we have begun to probe into this final layer. we're almost to the water. we are close to being to the
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bottom of the well. the excitement of the well is that this will be the bottom layer where, presumably, things may have fallen or dropped when the well was in use. it could have been used after they were done using it for water, it may have been used as a trash pit. people would throw away things. as an archaeologist, that is what we are looking for. those are the clues to learning about the past. we are very excited. we will get down to that layer and break into it once we remove this other half, then we will be ready to penetrate down to the very bottom. one of the more interesting things about the top of this particular well was that we encountered to barrels -- two barrels that were placed on the top. we think this sequence of events was that once they decided this would no longer be used to get water, they filled it in with clay but towards the top they
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embedded two wooden barrels. this is the drawing of the sidewall of what the barrels looked like in place. this one was two feet wide and two feet deep. there was a really small one right here that was only about one foot wide right next to it. we are theorizing that these may have been put into the top of the well for a place where water could collect. it is possible it was a place to store coal if they were using coal furnaces. it is another chapter of the story about this well that we are trying to figure out. we will see where we go with that. the other story that we are trying to figure out is which well was first and which was second. it is unlikely that both wells would have been in use at the same time. the question is, which one was the first well, and which was
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the second. one of the clues that will tell us about that is the artifacts that we find buried into these wells in the soil, especially at the bottom. you will see later on we are starting to go through and do that analysis to see if we can sort out which was first in which was second. >> we are now in alexandria's archaeology museum on that therefore of the torpedo factory. this is a public museum where residents and visitors come who are visiting the heart of old town alexandria. our archaeology museum is incredibly unique because we are a typical museum with exhibits about our -- about alexandria archaeology but we are a public space. people can come and interact with volunteers and staff and see the archaeological process taking place and ask questions about what archaeologists do. what is happening here on the
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table right now, we are processing artifacts actually from the well at mr. garcia's house. the first stage of archaeology that happens after the artifacts come out of the ground is, they come into the ground and the artifacts get processed. first we take the dirt off and that allows us to begin the process of identification of what these things actually are. wells are really important archaeological features to study. that is because they are time capsules of the past. people use them for the success of number of years as a well, then they start to get used for other things. often as trash receptacles. archaeologists study trash, that is a big part of what we do. the wells get capped so they do not create hazards and indoor plumbing gets put in. all of that information -- information is maintained.
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archaeologists get incredibly excited when wells are discovered or a to have the opportunity to excavate this archaeologically, strata graphically so that we know exactly from this context information read the artifacts actually came from. this was well one, level one, so we are at the very top of the well, the beginning of the excavation of well one or it we would expect to find a broad range of artifacts and a time period at the top level. you may have one dating back to the 18th century and one when the well was tasked. which we think was around the 1930's. we look a little bit more closely into this screen here and we see some unusual artifacts that catch the eye. these are clay marble and this is a clay tobacco pipe that has
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been found at the top of this well. there is also an extensive variety of historian -- historic ceramics. this is from the 18th and 19th century. this is hand painted white ware. these represents artifacts from the 19th century. then this tells us about the diet of what people of in alexandria eight. oyster shells and animal bones. some animal bones are potentially more related to rodents and scavengers that were in the back lots of houses. the teeth are still preserved in this mandible here. lots and lots of glass and iron artifacts. they are all being cleaned. the excitement with this collection is because of this
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partnership that we have undertaken with a local homeowner, with the city about century, with archaeologists for mount vernon. we have been able to have a partnership to discover the path. it is really community archaeology in action. we are just getting started with the post-excavation processing and that can take a while. washing each of these individual artifacts and going through the collection is not a quick process. i would say that we are just beginning with the process overall. what will happen to these artifacts is they will be further studied and they will come into alexandria archaeology's very large collection of artifacts and be held in the public trust so that future generations can study, exhibit, and learn more about alexandria by studying the material remains that people have left behind within this well. i think what we will get a
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glimpse of what we analyze the bottom of well two and get down to analyzing well one, it is really rich information about residents in alexandria in the early to middle 19th century. we will have artifacts down to tiny seeds that will tell us about diet. pieces of ceramic that will tell us about choices in fashion, and fashion ability, and things like that. i think this will continue to add to our data set on residents in that period. we are lucky because there is extensive historical document -- historical information. we can reconstruct block histories and begin to learn the more of the demographics of the people living on the tangible material remains of the people who lived there. >> you can watch this and other
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american artifacts programs by visiting our website, >> next, u.s. naval professor james holmes analyzes the battle of jutland between the imperial german navy and the british navy. the navy gunner, professor holmes battles that there are lessons that the 21st-century navy can learn from the great war. this is part of a conference hosted by the national world war i museum and memorial in kansas city, missouri. >> ladies and gentlemen welcome back to the 1918 crucible of war symposium here at the national world war i museum and memorial. we are so pleased to be joined this year by our presenting sponsor the military museum and


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