Archaeology Blog

2023 Field School Week 1

By: Catherine Haines

The 2023 Archaeology Field School at Poplar Forest began by learning about the history of the property, the field techniques, and touring the lab. First, the students began excavating four 2 ft. x 2 ft. test units (as part of Stable Survey 2) to continue the search for Jefferson-era stables. During these excavations, the students learned how difficult it is to dig into the ground at Poplar Forest and how red everything can become from the soil. Although there were only a few artifacts found, some students discovered features in their test units! The students were taught how to use the total station, make drawings of their profiles, and photograph features/test units.

Once the test units were finished, we moved closer to the 1857 Slave Dwelling and began excavating larger 5 ft. x 5 ft. units. The students were split among three new units and began finding a variety of artifacts. Some of these included ceramic sherds, pieces of different colored glass, nails, pieces of iron objects, a marble, bone, and more. On day 5, the students were not in the field because they had the opportunity to take a house restoration tour with Travis McDonald. During the tour, Travis explained all the changes that occurred to the main house to restore it back to the early 19th century and how this was accomplished. All the students were grateful for the tour and are excited to see what else they will discover during their time at Poplar Forest!