Glass Artifacts from the Jason Russell House Dig, March 1985

Many, many fragments of glass were found at the Jason Russell House dig, in all excavation locations. Glass doesn’t break down in soil easily, so it is among the most common kind of artifact found at archaeological digs in the northeast. The dig at the Jason Russell House yielded glass from window panes, beverage bottles, medicine bottles, and jars. The presence of different chemicals in glass determines its color. In this collection there is a variety of colors: clear, aqua, dark blue (cobalt), and dark green. The vast majority of glass fragments here are clear.

There are several ways archaeologists can tell approximately when a glass container was made. If it has distinct lines around the base of the container or distinct lines along the side, the vessel was made by an automatic machine, which means it was made after about 1910, when that method of manufacture became increasingly common. Sometimes the name of the product inside the glass vessel is embossed or printed on it, which makes it relatively easy to find when the vessel was in use for its intended purpose (e.g., beer, medicine, milk). Most of the glass vessels at the Russell House site were either entirely or partially machine-made, which means that they date to the early 20th century at the earliest. Many fragments are from vessels that don’t show this kind of diagnostic information, so it’s very hard to tell when they were made. It could be that earlier (or much earlier) vessels are part of this assemblage, but most of them are later.

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