Monticello Crews Unearth History on Archaeological Dig

By: Suzanne Wilson Email
By: Suzanne Wilson Email

October 1, 2012

Archaeologists at Monticello are uncovering a road that hasn't been seen this century, and for the next eight weeks, they'll be digging for Jefferson-era artifacts.

From a large piece of a pig's jaw bone to cobblestones, Monticello's Kitchen Road is coming back alive.

"It's the missing piece that will help our visitors make sense of how the mountaintop actually functioned in a practical sense in Jefferson's Day," said Fraser Neiman, Monticello's director of archaeology.

For a total of 10 weeks, Monticello's archaeological team is digging down to find the road servants used to access the main house.

"It was also the road along which all the food and heavy stuff came to the kitchen," Neiman said.

The archaeological team says they're just now digging deep enough to reach items from Jefferson's time, but they've already found some interesting artifacts along the way.

One item in particular is of special importance to the crew.

"A 1923 dime," Neiman said. "[It's] is a big year because it's the year that the Thomas Jefferson Foundation bought Monticello."

The dig is on display for guests to watch and learn how the process works and also what the road meant in history.

"There's also the sort of larger story to be told here about how the Monticello landscape worked in the early 19th Century and how it worked in the late 18th Century," Neiman said.

It's a part of Jefferson's home that will soon resurface from history.

The team is now just two weeks into the 10-week dig. The final goal is to restore Kitchen Road just like it was when Jefferson walked Monticello's grounds.

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