From the slate.com article:
How did archaeologists find half a million objects at one site?
Archaeologists announced on Wednesday that they had unearthed George Washington’s boyhood home at a site not far from Fredericksburg, Va. Over the course of a seven-year excavation, the researchers found more than 500,000 artifacts. How can there be half a million artifacts at one site?
Almost everything you find counts as an artifact, as long as it was made or impacted by people. The objects comprise more than just materials from George Washington’s home; archaeologists excavated a full acre of land, and the items they collected spanned 10,000 years of history—from rocks used to sharpen prehistoric stone tools to Civil War-era buttons. The collection does include an expensive tea set thought to be owned by the Washingtons and a pipe bearing a Masonic crest, but most of the objects are far more mundane, like nails, broken glass, or cracked egg shells. The only artifacts that weren’t removed from the site are remnants of old buildings—either architectural fragments that are still intact or foundation stones that were weighed and left at the site.
Read the full article here.