Archaeology of Chesapeake Landscape and Slavery

This listing expired on June 1, 2024. Please contact for any updated information.

Location: Charlottesville, VA, US

Season: June 3, 2023 to July 12, 2014

Application Deadline: April 8, 2024

Deadline Type: Exact Date


Program Type:
Field School

RPA Certified:

Monticello and the University of Virginia

Project Director:
Fraser D. Neiman, Department of Archaeology, Monticello and Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia

Project Description:

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 scholars specializing in digital archaeology, archaeological data analysis, geoarchaeology, zooarchaeology, paleoethnobotany, and 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

The Monticello-UVA Field School emphasizes how a multidisciplinary scientific approach to field research in archaeology can enhance our understanding of the linked cultural and ecological processes responsible for changes in landscapes, settlement patterns, household organization, and the lives of all Monticello's residents, enslaved and free.

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 6 weeks

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: No.

Room and Board Arrangements:
Air conditioned housing at the University of Virginia is available to students at an estimated cost of $43 per night or roughly $280 per week for a single room. Meals are available at an additional cost through University dining services, or students can choose to prepare their own meals. Numerous summer sublets are also available in Charlottesville, but students will need to make their own arrangements.

Academic Credit:
Six credits from the University of Virginia. Tuition rates are set by the University of Virginia and vary by residency status (see this link for details: All students accepted into the field school will receive a tuition subsidy from Monticello worth half the UVA-mandated tuition charge. Taking into account this subsidy, the actual cost for 6 credits is $1,368 for undergraduates and $1,605 for graduate students who are Virginia residents. For non-residents, the cost is $5,055 for undergraduates and $3,352 for graduate students. In addition to the tuition subsidy, each student will receive a $1,000 stipend to help with the remaining tuition and expenses.

Contact Information:

Fraser D. Neiman

Department of Archaeology, Monticello, Box 316





Phone: 434 984 9812

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