There are always new events and activities being posted. Check back often, and use the sidebar to hear our podcasts, learn about our artifact of the week, field school updates, and awards.
June 5-July 10, 2011
The 23rd annual Poplar Forest Field School in Historical Archaeology will be investigating an early nineteenth-century building complex adjacent to Jefferson's ornamental grounds believed to be associated with plantation work spaces and possibly slave quarters. Check the “Learning Opportunities” section of the Department of Archaeology and Landscapes webpage for weekly field school updates.
The Department of Archaeology and Landscapes has begun excavating at the northern corners of Jefferson’s retreat house looking for the remains of two ornamental tree clumps and oval flower beds planted here between 1812 and 1816. The excavations are designed to determine the extent and arrangement of these planting, which Jefferson designed as important elements of the ornamental landscape. The archaeologists are looking for the stains in the ground where trees and other ornamental plants once grew. Support for this project is provided by the Garden Club of Virginia and the Institute for Museum and Library Services.
April 22, 2011:
Poplar Forest will host the Eastern Native Tree Society (ENTS) as they measure the height and volume of some of the original tulip poplar trees in the north lawn of the retreat. ENTS is a research group dedicated to measuring and recording tall and historic trees.
May 2010 – April 2011:
The Department of Archaeology and Landscapes has been excavating a large area between Jefferson’s retreat house and west mound looking for the remains of paper mulberry trees planted here in 1812. The excavations are designed to determine the exact number and spacing of two rows of paper mulberry trees that Jefferson planted to create naturalistic wings in the Palladian style. The archaeologists are looking for the stains in the ground where these trees once grew. Support for this project is provided by numerous generous donors and the Garden Club of Virginia.
Spring/Summer 2011: The cover story of the Spring/Summer edition of Lynch’s Ferry: A Journal of Local History is the article Culture of the Earth: The Archaeology of the Ornamental Plant Nursery and an Antebellum Slave Cabin at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, written by Jack Gary, Eric Proebsting and Lori Lee.
Eric Proebsting and Lori Lee organized the session Small Finds, Ceramics, and Landscapes within Virginia and the Greater Chesapeake, for the Midatlantic Archaeological Conference. This session brought together 7 papers and a discussant in a symposium that demonstrated the significance of small finds, ceramics, and landscapes for understanding gender, identity, and social practice in this region in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They presented their co-authored paper Piecing Together the Past: Interpreting Inter-Site Connections through Small Finds at Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest in this session.
Director Jack Gary organized a session The Archaeology of Liminality: Studying the Intersection of Different Virginias for the annual Virginia Forum conference. This session consisted of four papers examining liminal landscapes, spaces, and status. Jack Gary presented a paper on Liminal Space in the Landscape of Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest and Lori Lee presented a paper They would not like this country if they were to return’: The Liminal Status of Hired Slaves in Antebellum Central Virgina.
CERHAS Landscape Digital Animations launched online and on an onsite kiosk.
John M. Turner Lecture in the Humanities: New Perspectives of African American Life in Antebellum Central Virginia, a presentation and discussion led by Ms. Lori Lee, Poplar Forest archaeologist, Dr. Kirt von Daacke, Lynchburg College associate professor of history, and Andrew Witmer, James Madison University assistant professor of history. Co-sponsored by Poplar Forest. Lecture at Lynchburg College: Sydnor Performance Hall, Elliot & Rosel Schewel Hall.
January 2011:Lori Lee presented the paper Transforming the Institution: Antebellum Slavery in central Virginia at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology in Austin, Texas. The paper examines the negotiation of social boundaries in antebellum central Virginia by analyzing the slave community at Poplar Forest as a case study of the transformation of the daily lives of enslaved laborers in this dynamic time period.
June 6 – July 9, 2010: 22nd annual Summer Field School in Historical Archaeology
April 2010: Eric Proebsting, Jack Gary, and Lori Lee will present the poster Presenting Historical Archaeology with Digital Technologies at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in St. Louis, MO. The poster will outline Poplar Forest’s innovative ways for interpreting archaeological research through interactive online and onsite computer and GPS based programs.
January 2010: The Archaeology Department will be attending the 2010 Society for Historical Archaeology conference in Amelia Island, Florida from January 6-9. Jack Gary (Director of Archaeology and Landscapes) and Eric Proebsting (Associate Archaeologist) have organized the session Current Research into Historical Landscapes, which will bring together 18 papers and two discussants in a symposium that will review the current direction of landscape studies in the field of historical archaeology. They will present their paper Finding the Middle Ground: Uncovering the Curtilage Landscape at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest in this session. Lori Lee (Laboratory Supervsior) will present the paper Edward Hutter’s Poplar Forest in Mr. Jefferson’s Neighborhood, in a separate session entitled Community Archaeology and Contemporary Identities: Closing the Gap between Past and Present.
November – December 2009: The nine remaining trees at Poplar Forest dating to the Jefferson-era were tended to by professional arborists from the company Arborcare. Five tulip poplar trees and one black walnut standing in the north yard are thought to pre-date the construction of the main house and were selected by Jefferson, along with other trees that have since died or been removed, to create a naturalistic grove at the front of the house. The arborists, using only ropes to keep from damaging the bark, climbed to the tops of each tree in order to extend the lightening protection cables on the poplars and repair any loose support cables on the walnut’s massive branches. Three other tulip poplar trees thought to date to the same time period stand approximately 200 yards northeast from the main house in an area referred to as the North Grove. Brand new lightening protection systems were installed on these trees as well. This work is conducted in order to protect these 200+ year-old trees and preserve the last remaining trees from Jefferson’s landscape.