‘It entraps the evil spirits’: Archaeologists believe 19th-century ‘witch bottle’ artifact found on Virginia interstate

8News Digital Exclusive

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — If you rub this bottle, a genie won’t magically appear. These suspected ‘witch bottles’ were used to trap evil spirits in the 19th century.

Team members from the William & Mary Center for Archeological Research found the bottle in 2016 after VDOT contacted them to survey the historic land along I-64 near Busch Gardens.

“We found the bottle, we knew it was coming from undisturbed deposits, we know it’s kind of a time capsule,” Joe Jones, Director of William & Mary Center for Archeological Research, said. “It was cracked, the neck is broken, but otherwise it’s intact it hasn’t been disturbed since it was deposited.”

VDOT was looking to widen the stretch of the highway by taking out the median, and that is where the bottle was found under layers of clay.

“We can see archeologically that there’s this layer cake,” Jones said. “One of the things that we can see when we excavated down that there are a series of fire pits or hearths in these layers.”

The archeologists were able to tell that the bottle dates back to the 1840s from the raised lettering on the glass signifying that a cola company had released it at the time.

During the Civil War, Confederate troops retreated to Richmond from Williamsburg when the Union attacked in the Battle of Williamsburg in 1862. When the Union settled, they established camp in what is now modern-day I-64 near Busch Gardens.

“They had a serious threat of the enemy attacking, that’s where this bottle comes in. Putting the nails and the personal effects in a bottle capped next to a fireplace, the heat of the fire heats up the iron in the nails and somehow that entraps the evil spirits,” Jones said.

For more information on the witch bottle, READ HERE.

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