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Remains of Revolutionary War barracks — and musket balls indented with soldiers' teeth — discovered in Virginia

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Archaeologists in Virginia uncovered what is believed to be the remains of a military barracks from the Revolutionary War, including chimney bricks and musket balls indented with soldiers' teeth. 

The site is on the property of Colonial Williamsburg, a living history museum that tells the story of the capital of Britain's Virginia colony in the 18th century.

Archaeologists also found bits of pottery and jewelry that were commonly worn on a high-ranking officer's cufflinks, WAVY reported.

Colonial Williamsburg American Revolution Barracks
This image provided by Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, shows bricks that were believed to be part of military barracks during the American Revolution at an archaeological dig at Colonial Williamsburg, Va.  / AP

Maps and documents from the time reference a barracks built between 1776 and 1777 for the Continental Army as it fought the British, the museum said in a statement this week. The structure was designed to accommodate up to 2,000 soldiers and 100 horses.

The American Revolution began in 1775. The barracks are thought to have been destroyed in 1781 by troops in the army of British Gen. Lord Charles Cornwallis. His forces were on their way to the pivotal Battle of Yorktown, where the British suffered great losses and surrendered. The war officially ended in 1783.

Archaeological evidence of continental barracks in Virginia is rare, according to Colonial Williamsburg. This site is particularly valuable because it was used only as a barracks. Plus, a significant portion of the land has been largely undisturbed.

The site was discovered during an archaeological dig required ahead of the construction of a proposed regional sports complex. Its planned footprint has since been shifted to preserve the roughly 3 to 4-acre barracks site.

An initial excavation last summer revealed chimney bases and uncovered a military buckle and lead shot for muskets. Soldiers chewed on the balls because of their sweet taste.

Colonial Williamsburg American Revolution Barracks
This image provided by Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, shows a lead musket ball that was excavated in the summer of 2023 by archaeologists. Brendan Sostak / AP

Only a small percentage of the site has been excavated.

The museum tells the story of Colonial Williamsburg through interpreters and more than 400 restored or reconstructed buildings. It plans to use the site to tell the story of Williamsburg's military involvement in the American Revolution and the daily lives of soldiers.

Also this week, Colonial Williamsburg archaeologists said they unearthed a 17th-century house, including plaster, high-end ceramics and a silver teaspoon handle.

"This is an amazing site. The artifacts coming out of it are really significant for us to be able to tell the story of what life was like before even Williamsburg was founded," said Jack Gary, Colonial Williamsburg's executive director of archaeology.

The museum posted a video of some of the discovered relics on social media.

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