Glass Trumpet at Ephrata Cloister

Sharing the Common Wealth showcases objects, artifacts, documents, structures and buildings from the collections of PHMC.

It’s not often that an archaeological find is classified as “one of a kind.” However, a glass trumpet discovered in Pennsylvania merits such a distinction. Archaeological investigations have been conducted at Ephrata Cloister, an unusual German religious commune founded in 1732 in Lancaster County, since 1993. In 1995, this unique artifact was unearthed from a deep refuse layer in an abandoned clay borrow pit. After nearly a year of research, the object was positively identified as a natural trumpet – it lacks valves or slides – and declared to be the only one of its type known in North America. The discovery raises many perplexing questions. Perhaps a gift to the Cloister but judged by leaders to be “too worldly,” it was placed in an open trash pit. The trumpet has been painstakingly conserved and is now on view at Ephrata Cloister.