Archaeology & Landscape Restoration

Articles & Publications

Over the past two decades, Poplar Forest archaeologists have produced a wide variety of articles, reports and conference papers.

The discovery of two important archaeological sites at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest is highlighted in a booklet produced by the Department of Archaeology and Landscapes. A combination of excavations, laboratory analysis, and specialized studies have located Thomas Jefferson’s ornamental plant nursery and a mid-19th century slave cabin that stood nearby. Jefferson established a nursery around 1811 in order to raise the plants needed to create the ornamental grounds around the retreat house; however, no specific location for this feature was ever noted in historic documents. Similarly, in the years after Jefferson’s death, numerous log slave cabins were built by the Cobbs and Hutter families, yet their precise locations were not known. This booklet provides an overview of how these sites were found, what types of artifacts were recovered and how we have gained new information about Jefferson’s attempts to create an ornamental landscape at Poplar Forest as well as how the conditions of slavery changed in the years leading up to emancipation. This publication was a result of a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

Popular Publications

In addition to the booklet, publications also include a volume through the Archaeological Society of Virginia, summarizing previous research and highlighting archaeology related to Jefferson’s plant nursery and an antebellum slave cabin. It was released as the fall 2008 issue of the ASV quarterly and is now available for sale at the Poplar Forest’s Gift Shop.

Another publication designed for a broad, public audience is Hidden Lives, written in 1999 by Dr. Barbara Heath, which uses the archaeology of the Quarter Site along with written documents to explore the enslaved African American community that lived and labored at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Technical Research Reports by Poplar Forest Archaeology Staff

We have also produced a number of technical reports that document the excavation and analysis of archaeological remains at Poplar Forest. We have made several of these reports available to view in .pdf format. Simply click on the following titles to view or download these documents.

Be aware that these reports are part of an ongoing archaeological project. As such, they reflect our thinking at the time that they were written, but do not necessarily represent our current interpretation of these sites. Therefore, you must contact the Poplar Forest archaeology staff prior to citing any of our technical reports in your research or publications.

Report to the Public Welfare Foundation, 2005

Poplar Forest Archaeology: Studies in Plantation Life and Landscape, Excavations and Analysis of Site B, Southeast Curtilage

Barbara J. Heath, Randy Lichtenberger, Keith Adams, Lori Lee, and Elizabeth Paull

Report to the Public Welfare Foundation, 2004

Poplar Forest Archaeology: Studies in African American Life, Excavations and Analysis of Site A, Southeast Terrace and Site B, Southeast Curtilage

Barbara J. Heath, Randy Lichtenberger, Keith Adams, Lori Lee, and Elizabeth Paull

Tim Trussell, 2000

Jefferson’s Villa in the Garden: A Report on the Landscape Archaeology Project at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, 1998-1999

Tim Trussell, 1999

The “Peter’s Field” Tobacco Barn: Excavation Report for Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest

Michael A. Strutt, 1997

A Report on the Garden Excavations of 1993, 1994, and 1995 at Poplar Forest, Virginia

Barbara Heath, 1994

An Interim Report on the 1993 Excavations: The Quarter Site at Poplar Forest, Forest, Virginia

Barbara Heath, 1993

A Report on the 1992-1993 Excavations: The Perimeter of the House and Excavations Related to Restoration Drainage/Foundation Work at Poplar Forest