A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
On a Sunday visit to Richmond, Virginia, archaeologist and ceramics expert
Robert Hunter decided to check up on the site, where, ca. 1790, one
Benjamin DuVal established a pottery making ceramics similar in style to
those produced in New York. Driving by the site, located amid a complex of
nineteenth-century warehouses, Hunter was horrified to find that the entire
block where the pottery once stood was being bulldozed. Collectors were
already making their way through the rubble, gathering sherds.
Acting quickly, Hunter was able to gather a group of over a dozen archaeologists, led by David Hazzard of the Virginia Division of Historic Landmarks, to salvage what they could. "It really is a horror story in terms of what could have been recovered," says Hunter. Though volunteers were able to recover about 1,000 pounds of sherds and located the remains of the kiln, Hunter points out that in the time it took the group to organize, a pit 20 feet in diameter full of pottery sherds was hauled away
to the dump. "We missed quite a bit," says Hunter.
Still wondering how the site could have been destroyed, Hunter notes that the Division of Historic Landmarks, the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, and the Virginia Preservation Alliance were all within walking distance of the DuVal pottery. A grocery store is now being built on the site.