|Location:||Monticello, Charlottesville, VA, United States|
|Occupation Dates:||Last quarter 18th/first quarter 19th century. Phasing and mean ceramic dates can be found on the Chronology page.|
|Excavator(s):||Oriel Pi-Sunyer (1957) and William Kelso (1979-1981).|
|Dates excavated:||1957 and 1979-1981.|
In 1957, Oriel Pi-Sunyer ran two parallel test trenches along Mulberry Row, locating several structures that Jefferson identified on his Mutual Assurance Declaration in 1796, including Building l, “a storehouse for nail rod & other iron.” In 1981, William Kelso cleared an area of 828 square feet, exposing a 16′ X 10′ 6″ brick (F01) and cobble floor (F03) containing the base of a small forge (F02) and a posthole for an anvil support (no feature number assigned). The features and objects he recovered hint at diverse activities spanning the 1790s to Jefferson’s death in 1826, including tinsmithing, nailrod storage, nail manufacture, and domestic use. Recent reanalysis of the assemblage by DAACS reveals that the Building l site overlays an unexcavated deposit of pre-1790s material, possibly the remains of an earlier structure.
In 1796, Jefferson described one of the structures along Mulberry Row in his Mutual Assurance Declaration:
l. a house 16. by 10 ½ feet, of wood, used as a storehouse for nailrod & other iron. from l. it is 8. feet to m [the Smokehouse/Dairy].
This is the only surviving document specifically mentioning Building l. It is identified as a storehouse for the blacksmith shop on Mulberry Row and its two-year-old nailery operation. However, archaeological excavation provides evidence that tinsmithing, nail-making, and domestic activity also took place in this structure, leading to a reassessment of the documentary record.
Artifacts and remains of a forge (F02) and anvil base recovered from the Building l site suggest that the log structure may have begun life as a tinsmithing shop. The only documentation of the whitesmithing operation is an account given in 1847 by Isaac Jefferson (born into slavery at Monticello in 1775). He recalled that Thomas Jefferson apprenticed him to a Quaker in Philadelphia and that he subsequently worked as a tinsmith at Monticello for two years before the operation failed (Bear 1967: 15-16). This apprenticeship likely occurred before January of 1794, when Thomas Jefferson left Philadelphia and retired from government service for the first time.
Recent archaeological analysis indicates that Building l continued to be used throughout Jefferson’s lifetime for concurrent or alternate domestic use and light industry. A cluster of nail-making debris dating to late in the occupation of the building suggests that when Jefferson resumed nail-making in a small way after the War of 1812 (Mar. 4, 1815, TJ to Benjamin Jones (Betts 1953:451), Building l, still standing with its single forge (F02) and anvil, may have supplied a ready-made location.
By November of 1794, Isaac Jefferson was listed in the Farm Book (Betts 1953:pl. 30) as a smith. On the bread list for 1796, Isaac was again identified as ‘smith Isaac’ (ibid. pl. 50), but on the ration list for 1796 (ibid. pl. 51), he was among the “nail boys” working in the blacksmith’s shop. This demotion probably marks the demise of the tinsmithing enterprise and Isaac Jefferson’s reassignment to the nail shop.
In 1957, Pi-Sunyer (1957) ran parallel exploratory trenches from the Levy Tomb to the ruins of the Joinery. He provisionally designated an exposed area of brick paving (F01) as Structure III, but determined its location corresponded to Building l on Jefferson’s Mutual Assurance plat. Pi-Sunyer was primarily concerned with uncovering architectural remains and finding type specimens. He did not excavate in stratigraphic layers and he returned all but a handful of recovered artifacts to the trenches when he backfilled the site.
In 1979, Kelso (1982) uncovered part of Building l while excavating the northern perimeter of the 1809 fence (F04-08) of Jefferson’s vegetable garden. In 1981, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Archaeology Department extended its excavation in order to expose the entire site of the Storehouse for Iron (F01-03), as he designated the Building l site. He also exposed a line of modern postholes (F09-12) edging Mulberry Row to the north.
Kelso’s crew excavated in stratigraphic levels and retained recovered artifacts, but introduced some additional interpretive problems by excavating in units of varying sizes and not screening for artifacts. Although excavators recorded opening and closing elevations for most quadrats, these measurements are not related to a known, fixed datum point.
In 1999, prior to the DAACS project, the Monticello Archaeology Department staff used previously generated artifacts, plans, and registers to reanalyze the excavations of Pi-Sunyer and Kelso. This work resulted in a reassessment of the site, reported by Scholnick et al. 2001.
Summary of Research
In 1957, Oriel Pi-Sunyer intended his test trenching to verify the 1796 plat, that is, find the remains of Jefferson’s observations of Mulberry Row. This approach collapsed a potentially rich occupational history into a single event–the role of Building l in 1796 as a “storehouse for nailrod and other iron.” He concluded that his finds matched the building Jefferson had described. Because the portion of the floor covered in greenstone cobbles (F03) was lower than the brick paving (F01), Pi-Sunyer suggested that the surface had all been originally paved with brick. Approximately half of it had been subsequently robbed for reuse after the building’s demise, revealing the cobble substrate.
William Kelso (1982, 1986a, 1986b, 1997) recognized that archaeology revealed more activity than recorded in the Mutual Assurance plat, i.e., nail-making (represented by slag and nailrod) and domestic activity (represented by faunal remains and the variety and quantity of ceramics). He inferred that the Storehouse must have been built after 1790 and, in addition to storage, served as a small nailery until around 1796, when it briefly served as a storehouse for nail rod. Kelso suggested that shortly after Jefferson drew up the Mutual Assurance Declaration, Building levolved into a two-room slave quarter with a brick-lined, sub-floor pit (F02) near a chimney in the western end. The log structure must have remained in place until 1809 when the new garden fence (F04-08) was installed, because the fence postholes seemed to veer around it. However, he concluded from the absence of Building l on a key 1809 plat that the cabin must have been dismantled soon after the fence was erected.
Douglas Sanford argued in his dissertation (1995) that the artifact assemblage of Building l supported a 1780 to 1809 date of occupation. He thought the structure was first used for nailrod storage with some nail-making activity and then dedicated to domestic use. It was probably constructed of logs erected on a prepared paving (F01 and F03). Sanford placed the postholes associated with the ca.1809 garden fence (F04-08) within the floor of the structure, thus fixing a date by which the structure must have been removed. He concluded that the brick-lined box (F02) was not a sub-floor pit, but supported an iron-working forge. The structure served as a storehouse and nailery up until at least 1796. He concurred with Kelso that the storehouse subsequently became a dwelling for slaves. Sanford does not account for the use of the space between 1780 and 1794 when Jefferson records the commencement of the nailery operation at Monticello.
Scholnick et al.:
Conclusions based on recent reanalysis by the Monticello Archaeology Department differ from previous interpretations in some key ways regarding the duration of occupation of the structure, its appearance, and its use. Based on a reconsideration of stratigraphic contexts, Scholnick et al. (2001) concluded that Building l was built in the early 1790s and that it continued to be used after 1809, most likely up until Jefferson’s death.
Construction of the Storehouse for Iron began with the preparation of a greenstone and clay base (F03) capped with a brick paving (F01). A one-room log cabin was erected on this platform. Based on analogy with excavations at the Anderson Forge in Williamsburg, the mortared brick box (F02) inserted into the floor supported a brick forge. Comparison of the profiles of postholes for anvil bases at Mulberry Row’s Nailery with the posthole (no feature number assigned) in the center Building l’s surviving brick paving suggests that the base of an anvil stood in this location. Both anvil and forge were likely original appointments, if the cabin was built to accommodate Isaac Jefferson’s short-lived tinsmithing shop, as suggested by artifacts and documents (Hill 2002a and b).
The artifact assemblage attests to the subsequent use of Building l for both nail-making and as a dwelling—probably for slaves. Using available quantitative methods, it is not possible to differentiate between discrete episodes of domestic and industrial activity. This may be the result of either the use of Building l simultaneously as a dwelling and a nail-making facility throughout its occupation or the creation of depositional contexts over such an extensive period of time that they contain samples from both domestic and industrial phases. What is clear is that the intensity of nail-making activity at Building l altered relative to domestic activity; there was an initial increase in nail-making, followed by an increase in domestic activity, followed by a second increase in nail-making. The latter may represent Jefferson’s documented resumption of nail-making after the War of 1812.
DAACS data on Building l has only been available for a short time, but preliminary analysis has already challenged previous assumptions about the character of the assemblage and the behavior of the people who lived and worked at Building l. More refined stylistic descriptions of ceramics (Arendt 2003, Galle and Neiman 2002b and 2003, Neiman et al. 2003) and buttons (Heath 2003) demonstrate that the quality of consumer goods discarded at the site was similar to that of other domestic sites on Mulberry Row. The differences among the sites reflect temporal variation in the availability of types of goods and the expression of consumer preferences.
Guided by the 1796 Mutual Assurance plat, Kelso and Pi-Sunyer’s excavations stopped with the exposure of evidence of Building l. DAACS reveals that Building l overlays an older site. In one unit, Kelso’s excavation punched through the living surface of the Storehouse for Iron. Artifacts recovered from this level predate the construction of Building l. Further excavation is required to determine if the material was discarded in situ or redeposited from another location.
Thomas Jefferson Foundation
Things you need to know about Building l before you use the data:
- The entire site was carefully hand-troweled and screens were not used for artifact recovery.
- Measurements are in feet and tenths of feet.
- Building l was excavated using the “Wheeler Box” excavation system of 8-by-8 foot quadrats with 2-foot baulks. This system was later expanded to 10-by-10 foot quadrats, resulting in a miscellany of different-sized quadrats. Unit size varies from 8-by-8 foot and 2-by-2 foot quadrats to 4-by-10 foot quadrats. Quadrats 176, 177, and 178 are L-shaped.
- Artifacts from areas excavated by Pi-Sunyer were not cataloged into the DAACS database, except where they were crossmended with artifacts recovered by Kelso. Building l contexts that are not a part of the DAACS database include 177TPS, 177A, 177/178TPS, 177/178A, 177/329TPS, 177/329A, 178TPS, 178A, 178B, 178/253TPS, 178/253A, 178/328TPS, 178/328A, 250/328TPS, 250/328A, 328TPS, 328A, 328B, 328/329TPS, 328/329A, 328/329B, 329TPS, 329A, 329B, 329/341TPS, and 342/346TPS.
The original excavators of the Building l site did not assign numbers to individual features. DAACS staff has assigned feature numbers using the original excavation records. Feature Numbers assigned by DAACS have a F-prefix, which precedes the number (i.e. F01 equals Feature 1).
Excavated contexts that belong to the same depositional basin (e.g. a posthole and postmold or the layers in a single pit) have been assigned a single feature number. In addition, single contexts have been given feature numbers when the original field records indicate that the excavators recognized a context’s spatial distinctiveness from surrounding contexts.
Feature groups are sets of features whose spatial arrangements indicate they were part of a single structure (e.g. structural postholes, subfloor pits, and hearth) or landscape element (e.g. postholes that comprise a fenceline). Feature Groups assigned by DAACS have a FG-prefix, which precedes the number (i.e. FG01 equals Feature Group 1).
Building l Chronology
DAACS has developed a uniform set of methods to infer intra-site chronologies for the sites included in the Archive. Using them, we have assigned most excavated contexts at each site to a set of site-specific phases. The use of common methods is designed to increase comparability among phases at different sites. The methods and the phase assignments they produced are summarized below. For some sites, the original excavators developed intra-site chronologies and where these exist, they are included on the Background page for the site. DAACS encourages users of Archive data to help explore improvements.
DAACS Seriation Method
This page summarizes a frequency-seriation based chronology for the Building l site that was developed by DAACS (see Neiman, Galle, and Wheeler 2003 for technical details). DAACS seriated ceramic assemblages, with more than five sherds, from individual excavated contexts and from stratigraphic groups—groups of contexts that field records indicate were part of a single stratigraphic layer or deposit. Stratigraphic Groups have a SG-prefix, which precedes the group number (e.g. SG01 equals Stratigraphic Group 1). For example, at the Building l site, two portions of a single layer, described by the excavators as ‘reddish brown loam”, spanned two adjacent quadrats (342 and 343). The layer segments were excavated as 342E and 343G. DAACS assigned these contexts to a single stratigraphic group (SG05). Not all contexts have stratigraphic group assignments.
DAACS chose to base the seriation chronology for the Building l site on ceramic assemblages aggregated at the level of contexts and stratigraphic groups, and not at the level of features. This is because most contexts and stratigraphic groups on the site were not parts of features. In the few cases where stratigraphic groups and contexts were parts of features, the relevant feature numbers and descriptions are included in the seriation chronology table below.
DAACS computed the frequency of mean-ceramic-date (MCD) types in stratigraphic groups and in individual contexts when those contexts had no stratigraphic group assignment. The seriation chronology is derived from a correspondence analysis of these MCD-type frequencies. Seriated assemblages were assigned to phases. Phases are groups of assemblages that have similar correspondence-analysis scores and are therefore inferred to be broadly contemporary. Phases assigned by DAACS have a P-prefix that precedes the phase number (e.g. P01 equals Phase 1).
The stratigraphic relationships among stratigraphic groups and unassigned contexts are summarized in the Harris Matrix for the site. Phase assignments from the seriation are shown on the Harris Matrix in color, facilitating comparison of the seriation chronology and the stratigraphic chronology of the site.
Building / Phases
Based on the correspondence analysis, DAACS divided the Building l site occupation into six phases. Mean ceramic dates for the six phases are given in the table below. The table also includes two estimates of the TPQ for each phase. The first TPQ estimate is the usual one – the maximum beginning manufacturing date among all the MCD types in the assemblage. The second estimate — TPQp90 — is the 90th percentile of the beginning manufacturing dates among all the sherds in the assemblage, based on their MCD-types. This TPQ estimate is more robust against excavation errors and taphonomic processes that might have introduces a few anomalously late sherds in an assemblage.
Phase one is a small assemblage derived from limited excavation of layers (SG01 and SG02) that lay below the brick and cobble floor (F01, F03) of Building l, shown on the 1796 Mutual Assurance Plat. These assemblages attest to the presence of a significantly earlier occupation at the site, most of which is still covered by the floor. Phases two, three, four, and five contain the remains of the Building l occupation from about 1790 until Jefferson’s death in 1826. The contrast between TPQ and TPQp90 values for phases three and four indicates they contain a few anomalously late sherds as well as Jefferson-era material. Phase six contains significantly more post-Jefferson material than the others.
The phases for the Building l site are among the most massively time averaged on Mulberry Row. Each phase represents deposition over many decades and there is considerable overlap between the periods represented by successive phases. This is the result of both site formation processes and excavation and analytical errors which may have combined, in a single context or stratigraphic group, deposits from different time periods. Among the special complications affecting Building l are excavations in 1957 that resulted in two test trenches across the site and partial excavation of the sediment covering the brick and cobble foundation (Pi-Sunyer 1957; Scholnik et al. 2001). Improving temporal resolution among individual contexts for phases two through five may be possible in the future.
A Seriation Chronology for the Building l Site
The following table presents a seriation chronology for the Building l site. We use the indefinite article to signify that it is not the only chronology possible, nor the best. DAACS encourages users of Archive data to help explore improvements.
Building l Harris Matrix
The Harris Matrix summarizes stratigraphic relationships among excavated contexts and groups of contexts that DAACS staff has identified as part of the same stratigraphic group. Stratigraphic groups and contexts are represented as boxes, while lines connecting them represent temporal relationships implied by the site’s stratification, as recorded by the site’s excavators (Harris 1979).
Stratigraphic groups, which represent multiple contexts, are identified on the diagram by their numeric designations (e.g. SG09) followed by the original excavator’s descriptions of them (e.g. “Area associated with brick and stone floor”). Contexts that could not be assigned to stratigraphic groups are identified by their individual context numbers (e.g. 177D).
Boxes with color fill represent contexts and stratigraphic groups with ceramic assemblages large enough to be included in the DAACS seriation of the site (see Chronology). Their seriation-based phase assignments are denoted by different colors to facilitate evaluation of the agreement between the stratigraphic and seriation chronologies. Grey boxes represent contexts that were not included in the seriation because of small ceramic samples.
See Building l Chronology for stratigraphic and phase information.
This Harris Matrix is based on data on stratigraphic relationships recorded among contexts in the DAACS database. It was drawn with the ArchEd application. See http://www.ads.tuwien.ac.at/arched/index.html.
For a printable version, download the Harris Matrix [110.48 KB PDF].
PDF of composite excavator’s plan, compiled by DAACS from original field drawings, with excavation units and features labeled.
CAD site plan in .dxf format.
2003 Acquire This: A Study of Ceramic Stylistic Variability at Monticello, Mount Vernon, and Stratford Hall. Unpublished paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Providence, Rhode Island. On file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Bear, James A., Jr.
1967 Jefferson at Monticello. University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Betts, Edwin Morris
1987  Thomas Jefferson University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Galle, Jillian E., and Fraser D. Neiman
2002 An Elemental Approach to Ceramic Stylistic Analysis. Unpublished paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Mobile, Alabama. On file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Galle, Jillian E., and Fraser D. Neiman
2003 Patterns of Tea and Tableware Consumption of Late Eighteenth-Century Slave Quarter Sites. Unpublished paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Providence, Rhode Island. On file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Harris, Edward C.
1979 Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy. Academic Press, London, England.
Heath, Barbara J.
2003 A Comparative Analysis of African-American Adornment Practices in the Chesapeake. Unpublished paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Providence, Rhode Island. On file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
2002a Summary of Archaeological Excavations by Site. Mulberry Row Project. Unpublished report on file at the Jefferson Library, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville Virginia.
2002b Summary of Archaeological and Documentary Evidence for Excavated and Standing Buildings on Mulberry Row., Mulberry Row Project. Unpublished report on file at the Jefferson Library, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville Virginia.
Kelso, William M.
1982 A Report on the Archaeological Excavations at Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia, 1979-1981. Manuscript on file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Kelso, William M.
1986a The Archaeology of Slave Life at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello: “A Wolf by the Ears.” In t Journal of New World Archaeology 6(4): 5-20.
Kelso, William M.
1986b Mulberry Row: Slave Life at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. In t Archaeology 39(5): 28-35.
Kelso, William M.
1997 Archaeology at Monticello: Artifacts of Everyday Life in the Plantation Community. Monticello Monograph Series. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Neiman, Fraser D., Jillian E. Galle , and Derek Wheeler
2003 Chronological Inference and DAACS. Unpublished paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Providence, Rhode Island. On file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Neiman, Fraser D.
1998 Modeling Social Dynamics in Colonial and Antebellum Slave Architecture: Monticello in Historical Perspective. Unpublished paper presented at the Slavery Housing Conference at the International Center for Jefferson Studies, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia. On file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Neiman, Fraser D.
2008 The lost world of Monticello: an evolutionary perspective. Journal of Anthropological Research 64(2):161-193.
Olson, Heather L.
2003 ‘Constantly Employed’: Chronological and Regional Differences in Tool Use at Seven Slave Sites in the Virginia Chesapeake. Unpublished paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Providence, Rhode Island. On file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
1957 Archaeological Excavations at Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia. Manuscript on file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Sanford, Douglas W.
1995 The Archaeology of Plantation Slavery at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello: Context and Process in an American Slave Society. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Stanton, Lucia C.
1996 Slavery at Monticello. Monticello Monograph Series. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Stanton, Lucia C.
2000 Free Some Day: The African-American Families of Monticello. Monticello Monograph Series. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Thomas Jefferson Foundation, (TJF)
2001 Mulberry Row Reassessment: The Building l Site. Unpublished manuscript on file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.