Just in the last few days, nifty things have been found in the ground.
In Jamestowne, Virginia, excavation of a well has yielded artifacts believed to be among the oldest items of European origin found in North America. Settlers arrived in 1607; a halberd was found bearing the insignia of Lord Delaware, who arrived in Jamestowne in 1610.
Associated Press Story
More about the Jamestown finds
And in Dublin, Ireland, a backhoe operator working in a bog discovered a Book of Psalms believed to be about 1200 years old, dating back to times of Viking raids in Ireland. Vikings!
More info and good photo
Preservation of these artifacts, especially the book, is crucial once the items are removed from the environment which has preserved them for hundreds of years. An article about shoes found in Salem, Massachusetts describes the proper preservation of leather items:
Current conservation practice entails soaking the leather items in water until they are chemically neutral and then immersing them in ethanol (alcohol) until the water is displaced and all bacteria is removed.
More about artifact preservation in Part II!