|Location:||Monticello, Charlottesville, VA, United States|
|Occupation Dates:||Late 18th/early 19th century. Phasing and mean ceramic dates can be found on the Chronology page.|
|Excavator(s):||Oriol Pi-Sunyer, William Kelso and Susan Kern.|
|Dates excavated:||1957, 1979-1981, 1993.|
Building m, located on Mulberry Row, is described by Jefferson in the 1796 Mutual Assurance Declaration (Jefferson: N133) as a smoke house and a dairy measuring 43.5-by-16 feet. Between 1979 and 1981, William Kelso and staff exposed a stone foundation measuring 44-by-16.5 feet in the location mapped by Jefferson. Among the interior features was a brick-lined fire box (F38), corroborating the structure’s use at one time as a smokehouse.
Documents indicate that by 1809 the south terrace wing of the Mansion had been completed. The wing contained a smokehouse and a dairy. These two activites may have been moved to the new wing at that time. The support postholes for a ca. 1809 garden paling fence (Jefferson: N225), which separated Mulberry Row from the Jefferson-family vegetable garden, cross through where Building m once stood.
DAACS-based reanalysis of the excavation records and artifacts indicates that after Building m‘s demise, a dwelling, now identified as Mulberry Row Structure (MRS) 4, was built on the site. Archaeological evidence for MRS 4 consists of a brick paving (F39), which served as a floor in front of the building’s hearth (F22).
The earliest known reference to a Monticello smokehouse and dairy occurs in a memorandum from Jefferson to his friend and farm manager, Nicholas Lewis, ca. November 7, 1790:
“Two meat-houses to be made, about the same size each, 12 feet apart and a cover over the whole: one of them for me, the other for Mr. Randolph and the passage between, for their dairy. All these to be of logs covered with clapboards,” (Oberg and Looney 2008:29)
Referring this time specifically to a structure on Mulberry Row, Jefferson (Jefferson:N133) identifed Building m in a 1796 Mutual Assurance Declaration as:
“a house 43 1/2 f. by 16. f. of wood, the floors of earth, used as a smoke house for meat, and a dairy,”
If the two above references can be taken as describing the same structure, then Building m was constructed sometime between late 1790 and 1796.
As Martha Hill notes, however, there “must have been” a smokehouse and dairy on the mountaintop before the construction of Building m. An earlier smokehouse and dairy could have been located in the yard near the South Pavilion where the Monticello I kitchen was located, but it would have been demolished while grading the hillside in preparation for construction of the south terrace wing associated with the second phase of the Jefferson Mansion (Hill 2002b).
Two additional references, one to a smoke house and the other to a dairy, are ambiguous with respect to location. Martha Jefferson Randolph, in a letter to Jefferson in January of 1791, described visiting:
“the kitchen smoke house and fowls when the weather permits and according to your desire saw the meat cut out,” (Oberg and Looney 2008:499)
and, four months later, Jefferson instructed Mary Jefferson:
“to manage the kitchen, the dairy, the garden, and other appendages of the household,” (Oberg and Looney 2008:462)
Jefferson’s 1809 mountaintop plat (Jefferson:N225) does not show any building on the site of Building m but does show a fenceline where Building m previously stood, thereby dating the destruction of the structure to before 1809. This sequence is corroborated by the archaeology, described below.
Excavation history, procedures and methods
Although Pi-Sunyer excavated two parallel trenches across the area where Building m had been located, he did not detect the stone foundation Kelso would later uncover. Judging from field photographs, such as the one shown here, Pi-Sunyer’s trenches appear too shallow to have reached the top of Building m‘s stone foundation.
In 1979, Kelso uncovered the greenstone foundation of Building m, that Pi-Sunyer’s initial excavations missed, during the excavation of postholes (e.g., F12) associated with an 1809 paling fence that separated Mulberry Row from the Jefferson family vegetable garden. Four of these 10-by-4 foot quadrats excavated in 1979 cross the Building m site. During the same excavation campaing, additional quadrats were placed north and south of the fence line (see Site Images for quadrat layouts). Excavation at this location resumed the following year using the Wheeler-box method of digging 8-by-8 foot quadrats separated by unexcavated 2-by-8 foot balks. As work progressed, some balks were removed whereas others were never excavated. In some areas of the site, quadrat size deviated from the standard just noted. For example, along the northern edge, a series of quadrats measuring 8-by-4 feet was excavated, leaving 2-by-4 foot balks, some of which also were eventually excavated.
By the 1981 season, the entire stone foundation had been exposed. The stone foundation measured approximately 44-by-16.5 feet and was wider and deeper on the garden-side of the structure, though some of the south wall had eroded down slope (Kelso 1982:49). Kelso noted that the six-inch topsoil at the site of Building m was partially disturbed by Pi-Sunyer’s excavations in 1957 (Kelso 1982:50).
In December 1993, Sue Kern undertook excavations to find the mulberry trees that Jefferson had planted along Mulberry Row. She began by excavating a 5-by-4 foot quadrat north of the northeast corner of Building m, which revealed one planting hole (F36). Two additional quadrats of the same size north of Building m were excavated on 25-foot intervals, leading to the identification of two other tree plantings (F35 and F 24). None of these units crossed the foundation of Building m.
Summary of research and analysis
Kelso (1982:50) linked the following features with the Smokehouse-Dairy:
- a 5-by-6 foot brick paving at the north corner (F39)
- a 3-by-3 foot 9 inch dry-laid brick box slightly off-center from the foundation on the east end (F38)
- an ash filled pit centered inside the structure on the west end (F16)
Ambiguity in the documentary and archaeological records as to how the structure was internally partitioned led to speculation about the asymmetrical division of space. Kelso concluded that the western room measured 16-by-16 feet and was used for smoking meats whereas the remaining 16-by-28 feet of space in the eastern end was used for dairying. The presence of domestic artifacts suggested to Kelso that the dairying side of the structure also served as a slave dwelling.
Building m was given a construction TPQ of either 1769 due to the presence of creamware on the original topsoil or possibly 1781 in light of the silver spanish real in the “south corner stones” (Kelso 1982:51). The presence of ironstone suggested a destruction after 1813. MCDs calculated for different “occupation layers” suggested to Kelso a construction date of 1771, a median occupation date of 1785, and a destruction date of 1805 (Kelso 1982:51).
Pointing to Jefferson’s own description, Martha Hill (2002a, 2002b) reasserted a more parsimonious internal arrangement: two equally sized rooms used to smoke meat separated by a central passage containing the dairying operation.
Re-examination of the archaeological and documentary evidence fits with Hill’s hypothesis that Building m consisted of two room used for smoking meats, separated by a central passageway used for dairying activities (Jefferson:N133; Oberg and Looney 2008:29). This structure, built sometime between 1791 and 1796, was removed by 1809.
Further analysis of the artifacts and records for the Mulberry Row Reassessment has identified a second structure in this location, designated as MRS 4. Careful examination of the excavation photographs shows the brick paving (F39) crosses Building m’s stone foundation and is separated from the stone by a layer of sediment. The trapezoidal plan of the paving supports the hypothesis that it served as a floor in front of a fireplace, with the shorter side on the east facing the fireplace. Further corroboration for the hearth hypothesis comes from evidence of burning (F22) just to the east of the brick paving’s short side. The new interpretation is that MRS 4 post-dates Building m but is likely contemporary with the 1809 Stone House to the east and the 1809 paling fence to the south.
Karen Smith and Alexandra Massey
Thomas Jefferson Foundation
Things you need to know about Building m before you use the data:
- Measurements are in feet and tenths of feet.
- Pi-Sunyer did not use screens for artifact recovery. Kelso did not use screens for artifact recovery, but carefully hand-troweled the site. Kern used 1/4-inch mesh screens for artifact recovery.
- Pi-Sunyer used a parallel and cross-trench method, digging two long 2-foot wide trenches running parallel to Mulberry Row with short, perpendicular cross-trenches that intersected the long trenches at varying intervals. His trenches were backfilled and in many cases later identified and reexcavated by Kelso. The artifacts Pi-Sunyer recovered are not cataloged with the project at this time.
- Kelso primarily used the Wheeler-box excavation method where 8-by-8 foot quadrats were excavated within a 10-by-10 foot grid, leaving 2-foot balks standing to reveal site stratigraphy. Balks were subsequently excavated as 2-by-8 foot or 2-by-6 foot units. Along the northern edge of the site, a series of quadrats measuring 8-by-4 feet was excavated, leaving 2-by-4 foot balks, some of which also were eventually excavated. Kelso’s initial excavations across the site were done in 10-by-4 foot quadrats aimed at uncovering the remains of an 1809 paling fence that separated Mulberry Row from the Jefferson family vegetable garden.
- In the DAACS database, the Smoke House/Dairy project, which includes Building m and MRS 4, is designated as Project “105”. Artifact ID numbers for artifacts associated with the project therefore begin with the 105 prefix.
The original excavators of the Building m 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).
|F15||Previous Archaeology||179A, 191A, 200A, 248A, 249A, 250A, 254A, 257A, 262A, 268A, 268B, 268F, 268H, 269A, 327C|
|F40||Previous Archaeology||180B, 198A, 199A, 263A, 270B, 351C|
|F06||Trench, unidentified||346A, 346B, 346D, 346/347B, 346/347D, 347B, 348B, 349B, 350B|
|F08||Road||327A, 327B, 346/347A, 347A, 348A, 349A, 350A, 351A, 1821A|
|F10||Trench, builder’s||250F, 268G, 268J|
|F14||Trench, repair||180C, 192B, 194C, 199B, 263C, 198B|
|F25||Posthole||345G, 345H, 345J|
We perform a standard set of analyses 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 analytical 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 the frequency-seriation-based chronology we developed for the Building m site (see Neiman, Galle, and Wheeler 2003 for technical details).
As with other sites in the Archive, the seriation chronology for the Building m site was derived from 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. For the relatively few cases where seriated contexts and stratigraphic groups were parts of features, the relevant feature numbers and descriptions are included in the seriation chronology table below. The seriation chronology is the result of a correspondence analysis of MCD-type frequencies in each stratigraphic group and each individual context that had no stratigraphic group assignment (Figures 1 and 2). Not all contexts have stratigraphic group assignments.
To reduce the noise introduced by sampling error, only ceramic assemblages with more than 5 sherds and more than one ceramic type from individual excavated contexts and from stratigraphic groups were included. F01 (Fenceline Posthole), SG02 (Modern Mulberry Row Road), SG09 (Lower Fill East of Foundation), and SG10 (Smokehouse/Dairy Occupation Layer) were removed from the seriation of Building m in an iterative process due to unusually high contributions of these SGs to inertia. The subsequent results produced a strong correlation between Dimension 1 scores and MCDs (Figure 3). Based on the dips in ceramic counts observed in a histogram of Dimension 1, we divided the Building m site into four phases (Figure 4).
Building m Phases
Phases are groups of assemblages that have similar correspondence-analysis scores, similar MCDs, or both, and are therefore inferred to be broadly contemporary. Phases have a P-prefix that precedes the phase number (e.g. P01 equals Phase 1).
Mean ceramic dates for the site-specific phases are given in the table below. The table also includes two estimates of the ceramic 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 comprised primarily of assemblages from excavation of the original Jefferson-period ground surface that we assigned to SG13. Phase two assemblages form the main Smokehouse-Dairy floor layer (SG12) and two contemporary deposits exterior to the foundation (SG08 and SG11). Phase three primarily dates the MRS 4 occupation (SG05) and a trench along a fenceline north of the structure (SG04), both of which post date the Smokehouse-Dairy proper. Phase four is the latest phase and contains a substantial amount of post-Jefferson ceramics. SGs assigned to P04 include excavation backfill (SG03b) and a late fill layer (SG06).
A Seriation Chronology for the Smokehouse-Dairy Site
The following table presents a seriation chronology for the Building m site. We use the indefinite article to signify that it is not the only chronology possible, nor the best. We encourage users of Archive data to help explore improvements.
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 m 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 descriptions of them (e.g. “MRS4 Occupation Layer”). Contexts that could not be assigned to stratigraphic groups are identified by their individual context numbers (e.g. 346/347E).
Contexts associated with the Mulberry Row Tree Planting excavations in the mid-1990s are not included in the Harris Matrix. Context descriptions were sufficiently different that depositional relationships between the main Building m excavations and those aimed at uncovering the tree plantings could not be correlated.
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.
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.
See Building m Chronology for stratigraphic and phase information. Please note that some of the contexts present in the chronology analysis are not visualized on the Harris Matrix. The contexts that are not included do not have any stratigraphic relationships with other contexts. The lack of relationships can occur for a few reasons but two common examples are 1) the artifacts are from a surface collection, which is entered into DAACS as a context but does not have recorded relationships to other contexts that are below it; 2) in cases where topsoil and plowzone are stripped and discarded, there may be features below the plowzone that are comprised of a single context. Since the plowzone does not exist as a documented context with artifacts, it cannot seal the single-context feature. DAACS also does not record subsoil as a context, so there is nothing for that single context feature to intrude or seal.
For a printable version, download the Harris Matrix [312.27 KB PDF].
PDF of composite excavator’s plan, compiled by Monticello staff from original field drawings, with excavation units and features labeled.
PDF of composite excavator's plan, compiled by Monticello staff from original field drawings, with only excavation units labeled.
PDF of composite excavator’s plan, compiled by Monticello staff from original field drawings, with only features labeled.
PDF of quadrats from individual excavation campaigns labeled.
Boyd, Julian , Barbara Oberg , John Cantanzariti , Charles T. Cullen , and Lyman Henry Butterfield
1950-2008 The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. [35 volumes to date]. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.
Harris, Edward C.
1979 Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy. Academic Press, London, England.
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.
1806c Monticello: surveyed land (plat). N204; K167j. Thomas Jefferson Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, MA. http://www.thomasjeffersonpapers.org
1809b Monticello: mountaintop (plat). N225; K169. Thomas Jefferson Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, MA. http://www.thomasjeffersonpapers.org
1796 Monticello: building insurance. N133; K136. Thomas Jefferson Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, MA. http://www.thomasjeffersonpapers.org
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.
Looney, J. Jefferson, and Barbara Oberg
2008 The Papers of Thomas Jefferson Digital Edition, Main Series, Volume 18 (4 November 1790). University of Virginia Press, 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.
Oberg, Barbara , and J. Jefferson Looney
2008 The Papers of Thomas Jefferson Digital Edition, Main Series, Volume 20 (1 April-4 August 1791). University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, Virginia.