Archaeologists made one shocking find at George Washington’s home that no one saw coming

Jun 20, 2024

George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate is one of the country’s great historic sites.

Now it’s revealing more about the history of the nation’s first President. 

And archaeologists made one shocking find at George Washington’s home that no one saw coming.

Perfectly preserved relics found at George Washington’s home 

George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate in Northern Virginia along the Potomac River serves as a monument to the first President.

Archaeologists made a stunning discovery in the storage pits of the home’s cellar that “likely hasn’t seen the light of day since before the American Revolution.”

35 bottles of cherries, gooseberries, or currants were found with 29 of them still intact.

The fruit was perfectly preserved in storage. 

Mount Vernon President & CEO Doug Bradburn called the find “unprecedented.”

“Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine this spectacular archaeological discovery,” Bradburn explained. “We were ecstatic last month to uncover two fully intact 18th-century bottles containing biological matter. Now we know those bottles were just the beginning of this blockbuster discovery.”

He added that “nothing of this scale and significance has ever been excavated in North America.”

Mount Vernon principal archaeologist Jason Boroughs said that the condition of the fruit is amazing.

“Finding what is essentially fresh fruit, 250 years later, is pretty spectacular,” Boroughs said. “All the stars sort of have to align in the right manner for that to happen.”

The fruit is undergoing testing with the help of the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

George Washington used an early form of refrigeration 

Experts thought that they were placed there between 1758 and 1776 to keep them cold.

“For whatever reason, these were left behind, and they were in pristine condition, and that’s why this is such an extraordinary find because you just don’t find 18th-century food remains, intact, outside of things like animal bones, which are pretty durable,” Boroughs explained.

Bradburn speculated that Washington could have forgotten about them when the Revolutionary War began.

“This means the bottles are extremely fragile and require the utmost care,” Bradburn explained. “The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association was America’s first historic preservation organization, so it’s only fitting that such a remarkable discovery was made here at Mount Vernon. We are fortunate to have top archaeologists and historic preservation experts on staff who know how to effectively manage, analyze, and care for this extraordinary discovery.”

Storing fruit in the ground was the best way to beat the Virginia heat during Washington’s time.

“One of the best ways to store these types of fruits and vegetables was underground,” Boroughs said. “So sometime after 1758, but before 1776, someone dug a pit . . . sort of a rectangular, about a foot deep, hole through one of the floors in the cellar, these bottles were set in, and then it was filled with a dense clay.”

“These extraordinary discoveries continue to astonish us,” Boroughs continued. “These perfectly preserved fruits picked and prepared more than 250 years ago provide an incredibly rare opportunity to contribute to our knowledge of the 18th-century environment, plantation foodways, and the origins of American cuisine.”

More than two centuries after George Washington lived at Mount Vernon there are still amazing discoveries being made.

*Read All About It Poll*

Latest Posts: