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Monticello Archaeology

The Department of Archaeology is dedicated to studying and preserving Monticello's archaeological record, and to deciphering its meaning through comparative research. Historical topics of special focus in the Department's fieldwork include landscape history and slavery, both at Monticello and in the Chesapeake region. The Department is home to the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery, an Internet-based initiative designed to foster collaborative research and data sharing among archaeologists. The Department also houses extensive artifact collections from past and ongoing archaeological fieldwork at Monticello.


Featured Events

October 20, 2018
Featured Blog Posts
Mulberry Row
Building upon more than 50 years of archaeological investigation and documentary research, Monticello staff is now in the process of interpreting and restoring Mulberry Row . Lined with more than 20...More >>
Visitors view the Betty Hemings Site.
First Archaeology Workshop Tours Monticello Mountain Monticello’s archaeologists hosted the first in a series of four Archaeology Workshops on Saturday, April 23. Visitors joined archaeology staff...More >>
Everyone knows that archaeologists dig. But it is less widely appreciated that just how they dig and what they find varies with the kinds of questions they ask and the assumptions they make. Two...More >>
As we saw last time , Oriel Pi-Sunyer conducted the first serious archaeogical fieldwork on Mulberry Row in 1957. He relied on an excavation method called cross trenching, whose main goal was finding...More >>
In the third and final posting this series, we’ll briefly consider how the intellectual legacies of the New Archaeology affect current archaeological practice and our approach to the reanalysis of Pi...More >>
Chinking with hand
If only we could showcase everything ! An upcoming exhibition will contain ten panels that investigate the people, buildings, and industries of Mulberry Row. Sadly, reality dictates that only dozens...More >>
A Padlock, matching one found on Mulberry Row
Over the past two months, Monticello’s archaeologists have discovered two previously unknown archaeological sites that were once the homes of slaves who lived at Tufton, about a mile and a quarter...More >>
Click for a larger version.
Earlier this year, Monticello's archaeology team located the remains of a previously undocumented building on Mulberry Row. The new find consists of a brick paving that served as the floor of a log...More >>
Monticello archaeologists are excavating 5-foot quadrats in the area marked
On Monday September 17, the archaeology department began the final phase of excavation required to support the Foundation’s exciting plans to restore Jefferson’s Kitchen Road. In the first decades of...More >>
Figure 1: Geoarchaeological consultant Dan Hayes takes copious notes.
Over the past several weeks, our ongoing archaeological excavations to advance the Kitchen Road Restoration Project have yielded several important discoveries (for an introduction to the Kitchen Road...More >>


lfrancavilla's picture
When you first think of Monticello, you may think it's simply a house surrounded by gardens and a bit of farmland. I know that's what I thought many years ago. As a high school student from the Pacific Northwest, it was hard for me to comprehend fully just how vast a plantation operation could be. But life at Monticello was far bigger than I knew then. For years my colleagues in the archaeology department have worked to expand our knowledge and understanding of the complexity of plantation societies and operations, both here at Monticello and beyond to plantations in other areas of the Chesapeake region and the Caribbean. Start here to learn more...
Lisa at the PTJRS
jgalle's picture
Call me biased but I have always liked the home page for the archaeology department! It provides a jumping off point for exploring all that Monticello's archaeology department has to offer: a detailed overview of current research, access to site reports and departmental research, and a link to The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (, an international research project based at Monticello that investigates the archaeology of slavery throughout the Chesapeake, Carolinas, and Caribbean.
Jillian Galle
bself's picture
Here’s where you can see what Monticello’s archaeology department is up to. Although they generally keep a pretty low profile on the mountaintop, their work is vital to understanding Monticello as it was in Jefferson’s time and is virtually always the first step in any restoration project. They play a vital role as well by informing many of the interpretive displays mounted by the Curatorial Department. These folks know the 2,500 + acres that comprise the current Monticello property like the backs of their hands
Bob Self
bhughes's picture
Very good tool for anyone interested in archaeology at Monticello since it keeps visitors to the site up to date on the Foundation’s current research programs and allows downloading of technical reports and data.
Bob Hughes


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