"Perfectly preserved" 18th century cherries found in George Washington's Mount Vernon basement

Archaeologists at George Washington's Mount Vernon home found nearly three dozen 18th century glass bottles in a cellar pit. Inside the bottles are what they describe as "perfectly preserved cherries and berries, likely gooseberries or currants." Judging by the photos, "perfect" is a stretch but it is astonishing that these 250-year-old fruits are intact at all.

"Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine this spectacular archaeological discovery," said Mount Vernon president and CEO Doug Bradburn. "We now possess a bounty of artifacts and matter to analyze that may provide a powerful glimpse into the origins of our nation, and we are crossing our fingers that the cherry pits discovered will be viable for future germination."

Indeed, the researchers intend to determine if the seeds, when planted, could grow a tree.

According to Mount Vernon principal archaeologist Jason Boroughs, the fact that the fruit didn't disintegrate is thanks to the care and craft of those enslaved people who bottled them.

"The enslaved folks who were taking care of the trees, picking the fruit, working in the kitchen, those would have been the folks that probably would have overseen and done this process," Boroughs told the Associated Press. "It's a highly skilled process. Otherwise they just wouldn't have survived this way."

Previously:• A rat's nest in George Washington's bedroom was chock-full of treasures