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Archeology Under Way at U.Va.'s Morven Farm

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

— from UVA Today

For seven University of Virginia archeology students, their classroom this week is a sometimes-muddy field at U.Va.'s Morven Farm. There, they are taking the first steps to unearth 12,000 years of human history, including two little-studied aspects of that history – the story of American Indians following contact with European settlers, and the life of "middling class" tenant farmers in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

The students enrolled in "Field Methods in Archaeology" are surveying a 200-acre section of Morven by digging a grid of small test pits at 40-foot intervals. The grid is laid out using computerized surveying equipment, in relation to a "ground zero" point established daily via satellite GPS.  The pits are about two feet square, extending down to the undisturbed clay subsoil.

The survey is supervised by doctoral student Elizabeth Bollwerk, along with archeology professor Jeffrey Hantman and Derek Wheeler, a research archaeologist from Monticello. 

The research team chose to survey this particular 200-acre swath based on a circa 1796 map of Morven commissioned by Thomas Jefferson that shows an "Indian camp branch" and various fields rented by tenant farmers. Penciled notes on the map – that look to be Jefferson's own writing, according to Wheeler – record the crops growing in particular fields in 1799 and 1800, including corn, wheat and hemp... (Read More)

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