Holliday House Artifacts from Unit 19

As we near the close of our Holliday House excavation, it is a good time to reflect on some of the most interesting artifacts we found in Unit 19. I have chosen to talk about these artifacts because they are prime ways that we, as archaeologists, can look into the past and see how the people who lived in the house acted and maybe even thought as they used the items.

The first artifact that we found that really left an impact in my mind was a small brass shank button. A shank button is one that is threaded through a small ring on the back of the button. However, it was the front of this button that was the most intriguing aspect of the find. The center was decorated with the Virginia State Seal – a man standing on top of another and stabbing him with a long spear. This violent symbol is surrounded by the State motto, Sic Semper Tyrranus. The size and topic of the button suggests some kind of military button, maybe from a cuff, but we are uncertain at this point because the writing on the back of the button which would indicate the maker is too corroded to read.

Shortly after we found the Virginia button, we found another, bigger shank button. About the size of a quarter, we have speculated that it had a different use – possibly used as a fastener for a collar or similar article of clothing. However, this button was different than the one previously found. This button had the United States Seal on it with the eagle holding the arrows and olive branch in his talons. This indicates yet another military button.

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