Author: Esther C. White

an archaeology and preservation consultant and was formerly the director of archaeology and director of preservation at Mount Vernon
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Mount Vernon, Archaeology at

Archaeology at Mount Vernon, the Fairfax County plantation home of George Washington, began in the 1930s and has continued over the subsequent decades. As part of research and renovation efforts undertaken by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, excavations have sought to uncover evidence of daily life on the property during the eighteenth century. In 1987, the association, which has owned and operated the estate since 1860, hired a full-time archaeologist. Since then, archaeological digs at the Mansion House Farm have taken place at the main slave quarter, known as the House for Families, and the blacksmith shop (1987–1990), the fruit garden and nursery (1988–1991), the South Grove trash dump, or midden (1990–1993), the dung repository (1992–1994), and the Upper Garden (2005–2010). Extensive work has also been conducted at the distillery, located near the outlying gristmill (1999–2005). These investigations have turned up a rich array of artifacts and other kinds of evidence attesting to the lives of the Washington family and their enslaved laborers, including the size and nature of structures in which they lived and worked, the tools they manufactured and used, and the foods they ate.

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