24 May 2017

Self Educated Archeologist Ivor Noël Hume: RIP

“He was a master storyteller making what he found in the dirt come alive for a broad national public.”
I was listening to a relic hunting related podcast recently and, sadly, learned of the passing of Ivor Noël Hume. Hume led a fascinating life and I bought and read his book, A Guide to the Artifacts of Colonial America a few years ago. Hume has fascinated me for several reasons. We have some things in common (though I'm certainly not comparing myself to him when it comes to expertise or accomplishments). He's largely self-educated in the fields of archeology and history and he has an obvious love for artifacts and relics--particularly those from Colonial America.

The news of Hume's death was providential timing for me as I'll be sifting for artifacts at an early 19th historic homesite in the Shenandoah Valley within the next few days. I hope to have something to share on this ongoing project in the near future.

I've had discussions here and elsewhere regarding "formal education." I've also argued there are many, many (and often better), ways one may become knowledgeable in a chosen field. Ivor Hume was a perfect example of that truth. As a recent article about his life and passing noted:
Born and raised in London, Noël Hume had no formal training in archaeology, but he managed to turn his enthusiasm for collecting and identifying objects into a career where his talent and expertise were recognized around the world.
In fact, his "enthusiasm" led to one of the most prestigious positions in the field of history and archeology in the United States. In 1957, he became Williamsburg's Virginia's chief archeologist. As the referenced article notes:

“He artfully combined the analytical mind of a detective, the knowledge of a connoisseur, and the draw of a storyteller.”

You can read more of Hume's amazing life and contributions here and here.

01 May 2017

Relic Hunting Post #151 - Liberty in the Shenandoah Valley

I've recently received permission to explore and metal detect several very historic homesites here in the Shenandoah Valley. On one recent quick survey excursion to one of these sites, I was able to make several interesting discoveries. Below is one of them. It's an 1820 Coronet Head Liberty Large Cent. These American copper coins were minted from 1816 to 1839. When I first recovered it, detail was rather sparse and I could not make out a date through the incrustation that had accumulated through the years it had been in the ground. So I boiled it in some hydrogen peroxide and gently worked it with a soft toothbrush. I then applied some coconut oil and Renaissance wax. She finally came to life and revealed her secrets. The site actually predates the mint of the coin. I hope to do a lot of exploration of this site and write a detailed history of the home and its inhabitants at some point in the future.