Monticello Archaeologists Awarded NEH Grant to Share Research Online
MONTICELLO, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA—The National Endowment for the Humanities recently announced that they will provide a $300,000, three-year grant to enable archaeologists at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello to complete Beyond the Mansion 2.0., an innovative, web-based collaboration with The Hermitage.
Beyond the Mansion 2.0 will make thirty years of archaeological research at The Hermitage available to scholars and the general public. The project focuses on the First Hermitage, a cluster of archaeological sites occupied around 1800 by Jackson and a small group of enslaved people. By 1821, the site was populated by Jackson’s rapidly growing slave labor force. Beyond the Mansion 2.0 will support digitization and analysis of the artifact assemblages and field records generated by extensive excavations. Funding will also support faunal analysis by Colonial Williamsburg’s Laboratory of Zooarchaeology and macrobotanical analysis by the Archaeological Research Laboratory at the University of Tennessee. The digitization will utilize protocols and software developed by the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS) and its collaborators.
“Bringing together these different kinds of archaeological information will allow us to discover how and why the use of consumer goods like stylish ceramics and the consumption of domestic and wild animals and plants varied within the enslaved community and changed over time at The Hermitage,” said Dr. Jillian Galle, the principle investigator for the new grant and project manager for DAACS.
At the end of the project, data from Beyond the Mansion 2.0 will be available online via the DAACS website, along with data from sites at the Hermitage Mansion Backyard and the Hermitage Field Quarter. Because the First Hermitage data will conform to DAACS classification and measurement protocols, it will be seamlessly comparable to data from Monticello, previous Hermitage sites, and scores of sites in Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina, Jamaica, and Nevis. This will allow researchers to document and understand how the Hermitage data fit into larger patterns of spatial variation and change in the slave societies of North America and the Caribbean.
“We are very grateful to NEH and its peer reviewers for funding the Hermitage project. This is another important step to our overall goal: to facilitate the kind of rigorous, quantitative, and comparative analysis that will help us document and explain variation in the life ways of enslaved people in the early-modern era,” said Dr. Fraser Neiman, co-principle investigator on the new grant and director of archaeology at Monticello.
Built and maintained by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, and based in the Department of Archaeology at Monticello, the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS) is a web-based initiative providing free access to archaeological data in order to foster inter-site comparative archeological research on slavery. DAACS has received major funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The National Endowment for the Humanities, the Reed Foundation, and Monticello. For more information, visit www.daacs.org.
The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson, is 1,120-acre National Historic Landmark and one of the largest and most visited presidential homes in the United States. Thanks to efforts of this nonprofit organization, the mansion is the most accurately preserved early presidential home in the country. In recent years, new interpretive initiatives and educational programs such as archaeology and the history of slavery have enhanced the experience of more than 180,000 annual visitors. The Hermitage is a “Partner Place” with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and a site along the National Park Service’s Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. For more information, visit www.thehermitage.com.
Thomas Jefferson Foundation was incorporated in 1923 to preserve Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, in Charlottesville, Virginia. Today the Foundation seeks to advance its twofold mission of preservation and education by engaging a global audience in a dialogue with Jefferson’s ideas. Monticello is now recognized as a National Historic Landmark and a United Nations World Heritage Site. As a private, nonprofit organization, the Foundation’s regular operating budget is not supported by federal or state government funding. About 450,000 people visit Monticello each year. For information, visit www.monticello.org.