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Mineral Water Research Project

Robert Leavitt is a graduate student in anthropology, with an emphasis on historical archeology, at the University of Nevada, Reno. He recently visited the California State Archaeological Collections Research Facility as a source of data for his MA thesis.

In the 19th century, some brands of German mineral water were sold in jugs made of stoneware- a durable ceramic fired at a high temperature. Robert is investigating what brands were available in the mining west, who was selling them, who was buying them, and what mineral water was used for. Was it simply a table water? Could it have been used with alcoholic beverages to create a mixed drink? Perhaps it was used like a patent medicine- as a curative?

Although most of the items recovered through archaeology are fragments, even pieces of jugs can be revealing. Robert has identified fragments from Fort Humboldt, on California's north coast, to Old Town San Diego in the south, and eastward through Virginia City, Nevada, to the mining camps of far eastern Nevada. He has identified three major concentrations- all associated with saloons owned at the time by German immigrants.



It is through projects such as this that archaeology is answering questions about our past, even as it raises new ones: such as how to explain this well-formed and glazed jug. Despite its color, its construction appears very similar to the jug above.

For additional information about this project, please contact graduate student Robert Leavitt at: rcl@unrgrad.net