Encountering Asbestos in Historical Archaeology

Author(s): Kate L McEnroe

Year: 2021


This is an abstract from the session entitled "Archaeological Studies of Material Culture (General Sessions)" , at the 2021 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

Textiles are infrequently present in the archaeological collections at Colonial Williamsburg Foundation due to their poor preservation. Contributing factors include the inherent fragility of organic material, the prevalence of pest activity, and the frequently damp and acidic soils of Williamsburg, Virginia. Despite these factors, a small fragment of woven cloth was excavated during the Armory project in 2014. The fragment was sent to conservation for treatment and rehousing, and it was during the initial microscopic investigation that an unusual surface feature was noted. Small particles of reflective material are embedded within the weave along with a dispersed, red pigment. Initial analytical methods resulted in more questions than answers, prompting an in-depth investigation of the artifact and a collaborative interpretation of its significance.

Cite this Record

Encountering Asbestos in Historical Archaeology. Kate L McEnroe. 2021 ( tDAR id: 459316)


Analysis Textile

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Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology