Home / Funny / Viral / 250-Year-Old Bottles Containing Cherries Discovered In The Famous Mount Vernon Home Of George Washington


There's no telling what archaeologists might uncover when they sift through ancient sites. Timeless objects that have defied decay and time itself are some of the most intriguing and educational finds. These include the tragic Roman casts that were buried beneath Pompeii's ash and the preserved snacks that were found beneath the Roman Colosseum. At other times, it's discovering a sliver of tartan cloth in a peat bog in Scotland. These delicate artefacts can reveal a great deal about the diet, attire, and customs of past eras. Two hidden glass bottles containing cherries preserved in liquid were recently found at George Washington's well-known Virginia estate, Mount Vernon. The bottles' contents are exciting for archaeologists to see what they can uncover.

The bottles were found during the extensive restoration project of the mansion, which aims to stabilise and protect the building and its surroundings. The two imported bottles, made of dark green glass in Europe, were tucked into the earth. Their shape and style place them around 1750, though there's a chance they were buried before the addition of the floor over their hiding place in the 1770s. Remarkably, there was still liquid inside the bottles. The archaeologists reported that the contents continued to smell like cherries despite the cherry pits and stems floating inside. 

The glass, exposed to air for the first time in more than 200 years, was immediately sent for preservation after the liquid contents were withdrawn. According to a statement released by Mount Vernon Principal Archaeologist Jason Boroughs, "This amazing discovery at Mount Vernon is a significant archaeological find." Not only did we find intact, sealed bottles, but they also included organic material that can provide us with important context and understanding of life at Mount Vernon in the eighteenth century. We're eager to have the contents of these bottles examined so we can share this finding with other researchers and the interested public. These bottles have the potential to enhance the historical narrative.

Cherry blossoms are a well-known sight in Virginia, and George Washington gained notoriety for his tale of felling a cherry tree. Even though the tale is now known to be untrue, it nevertheless captures the significance of cherries in Virginian culture. Borough told the Washington Post, "There are accounts from the 18th century that talk about proper ways of preserving fruits and vegetables." "The most popular method, particularly for berries, is to completely dry them out, place them in a dry bottle, cork it, and bury it."

Not only do these cherry-filled bottles demonstrate the gastronomic preferences of the 18th century, but they also serve as a poignant reminder of the enslaved individuals who were housed and worked on plantations like Mount Vernon. Throughout his life, George Washington, the first president of the United States, held numerous slaves, both before and after he assumed office.

Mount Vernon had 317 slaves living there at the time of his death. The remaining 123 belonged to Washington's wife's first husband's estate. Washington, along with other slaveholding contemporaries, including future presidents, had strong opinions about the abhorrent practice, which historians have examined, and the first president actively used his position of authority to subjugate enslaved labourers.

"He whipped, beat, and separated people from their families as punishment," writes Erin Blakemore for History.com. In addition, Washington disregarded the laws that would have granted his slaves freedom should they have managed to flee to neighbouring states and relentlessly hunted down runaway slaves. The preserved cherries—which were most likely picked and bottled by unidentified enslaved hands—are more than just a taste of the past; they are proof of a labor-intensive economy at a time when, for some, freedom was starting to become the rallying cry of a young country. 

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