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Archaeologists discover 35 glass jars at Mount Vernon from 1700s, most containing edible preserved fruits

During an on-going renovation at George Washington’s Mount Vernon home, archaeologists have discovered 35 glass jars from the 1700s, with most containing preserved cherries and berries that appear completely edible.

Of the 35 bottles, 29 are intact and contain perfectly preserved cherries and berries, likely gooseberries or currants. The contents of each bottle have been carefully extracted, are under refrigeration at Mount Vernon, and will undergo scientific analysis. The bottles are slowly drying in the Mount Vernon archaeology lab and will be sent off-site for conservation.

Only a small quantity of the preserved fruits has been analyzed, with the following results:

  • 54 cherry pits and 23 stems have been identified thus far, suggesting that the bottles were likely full of cherries before bottling. Cherry pulp is also present.
  • Microscopy suggests that the cherries may have been harvested by snipping from trees with shears. The stems were neatly cut and purposefully left attached to the fruit before bottling.
  • The cherries likely are of a tart variety, which has a more acidic composition that may have aided in preservation.
  • The cherries are likely candidates for DNA extraction, which could be compared against a database of heirloom varieties to determine the precise species.
  • The pits are undergoing an examination to determine if any are viable for germination.

The last point is most fascinating. Imagine if a new cherry tree could be grown from a pit that was likely picked when George Washington was alive.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

 

The print edition can be purchased at Amazon. Or you can buy it directly from the author and get an autographed copy.

 
The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.


The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.
 

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News

2 comments

  • F

    “The last point is most fascinating. Imagine if a new cherry tree could be grown from a pit that was likely picked when George Washington was alive.”

    Maybe we can finally replace the tree that had been chopped down!!

  • Rockribbed1

    In Israel, they revived the ancient Judean date tree by germinating 2000 year old seeds found at Masada. You can now eat dates from this variety again.

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