Original Author: Virtual Curation Lab
Created: 2017

Decorative Slave Item

This raccoon baculum, or penis bone, was excavated from the cellar beneath the House for Families slave quarter at George Washington's Mount Vernon. Site archaeologists believe that the bone, which bears an incised groove near the top, may have been strung and worn around the neck as a decorative or a ceremonial item. The male raccoon is known to be sexually aggressive, suggesting its use as a fertility symbol.