Location: Charlottesville, Virginia, United States
The Monticello-University of Virginia Field School offers a hands-on introduction to basic excavation, recording, and laboratory techniques in archaeology. The course emphasizes a scientific, multidisciplinary approach to doing landscape archaeology. It also provides the opportunity to contribute to cutting-edge research into the ecological and social dynamics that unfolded on Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello Plantation in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Technical topics covered include survey and excavation strategies as well as recovery techniques and analytical possibilities for deposits and the sediments they contain, soils, faunal remains, plant phytoliths and pollen, macrobotanicals, tree rings, and spatial distributions of artifacts across sites and landscapes. The course offers students an opportunity to learn from and interact with our scientific collaborators in all these areas (geoarchaeology, zooarchaeology, paleoethnobotany, dendrochronology).
Our fieldwork addresses changing patterns of land use and settlement on Thomas Jefferson's Monticello Plantation from c. 1750 to 1860, along with their ecological and social causes and consequences. Toward the end of the 18th century, spurred by shifts in the Atlantic economy, Thomas Jefferson and planters across the Chesapeake region replaced tobacco cultivation with a more diversified agricultural regime, based around wheat. Our research is revealing the enormous implications of this shift for what the landscape looked like and how enslaved African-Americans worked and lived on it. Significant questions remain about the ecological processes that were unleashed, how they were experienced by slaves and slave owners, and the importance of changing slave work routines in explaining social dynamics among enslaved and free people.
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Period(s) of Occupation: Eighteenth and early-nineteenth century Chesapeake
Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 6 weeks
Room and Board Arrangements