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Q&A: Not all artifacts from George Washington boyhood home have value

This well-preserved bowl of an 18th century pipe was a key discovery at the site of the boyhood home of George Washington. 

Associated Press

This well-preserved bowl of an 18th century pipe was a key discovery at the site of the boyhood home of George Washington. 

Some artifacts just junk

I saw on the news that 500,000 artifacts had been uncovered at the boyhood home of George Washington. How could they find so many at a single site?

Thanks to the online magazine Slate (slate.com) for this explanation:

•Archaeologists count as artifacts almost anything they find at a site as long as they were made by people or affected by them. So while some of the things found were significant, such as an expensive tea set thought to be owned by Washington and a pipe with a Masonic crest, things like nails, broken glass and egg shells also are among the 500,000 artifacts.

• The excavation took place over seven years over a full acre of land near Fredericksburg, Va.

• It wasn't just material from Washington's home. It was anything the archaeologists dug up, and they estimate the items could have been there at any time in the past 10,000 years.

Subsidy savings not much

I would like to know how Chrysler new car dealerships can afford to offer the $2.99 gas incentive, with gas prices so unpredictable and no end in sight for further increases.

Chrysler LLC is picking up the tab for the difference between $2.99 and the rising price per gallon of gasoline, not the dealers. Chrysler says money for the subsidy is coming out of its regular incentive budget. The company purchased oil futures to hedge against the rising cost of gasoline, but it would not say how much it spent or its estimates of gasoline prices.

The offer is becoming increasingly attractive as gas prices continue to rise. But if you're thinking of signing on, remember: It's limited to 12,000 miles per year for three years.

People who buy or lease eligible Chrysler vehicles can pick between the gas subsidy, cash rebates or zero-percent financing — or, with some vehicles, a combination of the subsidy and rebates. You need to do the math to see which option makes the most sense for you.

Actual savings depend on what happens to gas prices during the next three years, of course. But here's an example, based on an average national price of $4.079 for a gallon of regular:

Let's say you're buying a 2008 Dodge Durango four-wheel-drive sport utility vehicle with a 5.7-liter V-8 engine. For this vehicle, you have three incentive choices: $6,000 in cash, zero-percent financing for three years or the gas subsidy deal plus $2,000 in cash.

Based on the Durango's mileage, the gas subsidy would save you about $871 per year. Multiply that by three years and add $2,000, and you end up with a total savings of $4,613 — far less than you'd save by just taking the $6,000 rebate in the first place.

Again, those numbers are based on gas prices staying where they are right now, which is hardly guaranteed.

Q&A: Not all artifacts from George Washington boyhood home have value 07/28/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 8:57am]
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