Minerva Granger was one of the enslaved women who was essential to Jefferson’s agricultural endeavors on his plantation. Along with her family and other members of the enslaved community, she planted and harvested tobacco and later wheat, which Jefferson sold on Atlantic markets.
October is Virginia Archaeology Month. It offers an opportunity to learn about and celebrate archaeology in the state -- including at Monticello. Before COVID the local focus made archaeological research accessible: you could visit sites and labs, chat with people making discoveries, and find out how you can participate. Those days will return!
Our immediate goal was to make way for the first-ever electric lighting system for the area. But there was a much bigger historical payoff: evidence from this fieldwork and from a shovel-test-pit survey we conducted in 2018, reveals how Jefferson, relying on the labor of enslaved workers, sculpted the topography of the East Lawn, beginning in the late 1790s, in a radical transformation of the mountaintop landscape.
Archaeology is an historical discipline whose goals are to advance our understanding of what happened in the past and why. But unlike the documents on which historians rely -- think Jefferson's letters -- archaeological deposits do not come with dates. In archaeology, we have to do work for the dates that are essential for turning artifacts into history.
Last week archaeologists began test excavations at an early-19th-century stone house at Tufton, one of the four quarter farms that comprised Monticello Plantation.
Over the past two weeks, the archaeology field crew, led by Field Research Manager Crystal Ptacek, has made exciting discoveries in the South Pavilion and the adjacent South Wing that connects the Pavilion to the mansion.
The restoration of the Stone Stable on Mulberry Row has begun. The stable is one of two Jefferson-era buildings on Mulberry Row that will be restored as part of a larger effort to return the mountaintop to its appearance during Jefferson’s lifetime.
An overview of excavations at the Stone Stable on Mulberry Row prior to restoration work.
A wood chip by itself is very modest. Small in size, light-weight, it could easily be lost or thrown away. Happily, the wood chip Thomas Jefferson cut from William Shakespeare’s chair during his 1786 trip to Stratford-upon-Avon comes with an explanatory note.
From November through January 2015, our intrepid crew of archaeological field assistants, led by Field Research Manager Crystal Ptacek, explored the North Dependency, the enclosed space under the North Terrace, whose construction was completed around 1809.
931 Thomas Jefferson Parkway
Charlottesville, VA 22902