Tuesday, 25 June 2013

"Ginger": The armless nude goddess in Brooklyn

Ginger, the 400lb goddess
When excavating urban sites, the team from Historical Perspectives, Inc. (HPI), is used to discovering a variety of features and artifacts during the course of fieldwork. Generally, archaeologists in urban contexts expect to recover an array of historical resources and can become jaded until a particularly unusual artifact is uncovered. Over the last few decades however, the HPI archaeologists have encountered many interesting sites and artifacts that have led the field team on numerous journeys of discovery. 
During a recent excavation in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), an eclectic neighborhood in Brooklyn, the field team was surprised and intrigued by the discovery of a buried stone “Goddess” within a thick stratum of architectural demolition fill. The statue was given the name “Ginger” due to the proximity to the historic spice warehouses that line the East River waterfront in the second half of the nineteenth century. Ginger is actually a 400-pound sculpture (head and torso) of a nude female. She is a stylized, free standing carved statue with a flat base and measures 99 x 42 cm (height and width). Art historians who have examined the statue have been unable to provide an exact date for her, but agree that the artist was a skilled craftsman. She has curly thick hair that appears to have been originally painted green; only traces of the color are still present. It is clear that it was created for viewing from both the front and back.

Faline Schneiderman and Dawn Brown in the trench, Brooklyn, NY
The archaeological team recovered Ginger adjacent to a concrete support wall for a twentieth century parking garage. This location was the site of a nineteenth century house and outbuilding that were demolished sometime before 1939 and the construction of a parking garage which was, also, subsequently demolished. The team believes that Ginger was probably originally somewhere on the site as her weight would likely preclude being brought to the site as fill. The team is still conducting research to learn more about this intriguing artifact.
Historical Perspectives, Inc. is a women-owned cultural resources consulting firm that has been in business since 1982. The firm offers a wide variety of archaeological and historic structures services including archival research and archaeological reconnaissance surveys to visual impact analysis, historic structures recordation, and interpretive exhibit and publication development. Incorporated in the State of Connecticut, HPI works throughout Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. HPI has also completed over 400 individual projects in New York City.

Sara Mascia, PhD, Vice President
Historical Perspectives, Inc.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like someone bought a piece of some cultures history years ago and later on maybe other occupants tossed it for lack of better use for it?