Archaeologists Uncover Historic Art Supplies in Boise's James Castle House 

  • City of Boise / James Castle Collection and Archive

Saying, "In a short period of time we accomplished a lot," a team of University of Idaho anthropologists and archaeologists uncovered a number of fascinating items in the former Boise home of renowned self-taught artist James Castle.

"The things we found can help the City of Boise in the restoration of the house, and we newly exposed a lot of people to archaeology," said Mark Warner, chair of the department of sociology and anthropology at U of I. "Our team ranged from students from three universities to the nearly 300 visitors to the site, including approximately 75 elementary school children."

Earlier this year, the City of Boise announced an ambitious project to transform the Castle House at Eugene Street and Hill Road into a gallery space, artists' residence and public garden.

Castle used discarded and found objects to make drawings and illustrations and after a week-long excavation at the Castle House, some of the artist's unique, handmade tools were unearthed. For example, researchers discovered a matted wad of cloth presumably used as a homemade paintbrush, as well as drawing sticks, graphite, a glass lens and other items, all of which will be taken to the U of I's Moscow campus for cleaning and analysis. A portion of the recovered materials will be displayed after the renovation of the James Castle House is complete. The house is expected to be reopened in October 2017.

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