|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):||William Kelso and Douglas Sanford.|
Building s is the best preserved of the three, single-family log cabins built in the mid-1790s at the eastern end of Mulberry Row. A large portion of its 12′ X 14′ stone foundation (F02), stone chimney base (F02), packed-earth floor (F03), and wood-lined sub-floor pit (F01) survived the 20th-century roadwork that graded the sites of Buildings r andt. Because of the documented similarity among these three structures, features uncovered in 1983 from the 1240 square foot excavation area of Building s have been used to determine the appearance of the other two. However, each had its own depositional history reflecting the conditions and activities of the enslaved families who inhabited them, as is becoming evident from the data provided by the DAACS recataloguing initiative.
On the 1796 Mutual Assurance Declaration, Jefferson described three buildings edging Mulberry Row between the new log stables and the extant 1770s stone Workmen’s House, now referred to as the Weaver’s Cottage:
r. which as well as s. and t. are servants houses of wood with wooden chimnies, & earth floors, 12. by 14. feet, each and 27. feet apart from one another. from t. it is 85 feet to F. the stable [a wooden structure subsequently replaced by the extant stone stables]
These three log cabins had been built within the previous two years and were part of the rebuilding campaign Jefferson undertook during his first retirement from public life (1794-1801) (Hill 2002a and b). Jefferson wrote his overseer Minoah Clarkson from Washington in September of 1792 with instructions that:
Five log houses are to be built at the places I have marked out, of chesnut logs, hewed on two sides and split with the saw, and dove tailed…They are to be covered [i.e., roofed] and lofted with slabs…Racks and mangers in three of them for stables [Building f]. (Boyd at al. 1950, vol. 24:412-414)
The following spring, Jefferson told his son-in-law and steward Thomas Mann Randolph to move all the enslaved house servants out of the stone Workmen’s House into “…the nearest of the new log-houses, which were intended for them; Kritty [Critta Hemings] taking the nearest of the whole, as oftenest wanted about the house” (Boyd et al. 1950, vol. 26:665), that is, the structure in the location of Building r on the 1796 Mutual Assurance Declaration. Several months later, in August of 1793, Randolph reported to Jefferson that construction of the cabins had not yet begun but assured him that the work would be accomplished that winter (Boyd et al. 1950, vol. 26:667), during the slack period of the agricultural cycle. If not by the spring of 1794, Buildings r, s, and t were evidently in place by 1796—three dwellings rather than the two originally planned and, based on the archaeological evidence of a surviving sill fragment, of Southern yellow pine, rather than chestnut.
It is possible that Sally Hemings may have lived in Building s, but the evidence is inconclusive. Stanton (2000) suggests that Sally probably lived at the Workmen’s House with her sister Critta after she returned from France in 1789 (p. 112). If Critta did move to Building r as Jefferson intended in 1793, then Sally may have occupied the neighboring Building s, the next “nearest of the new log-houses.” A French delft medicine jar found at the Building ssite lends some credence to this story . By 1808, both sisters and their families may have relocated to the quarters in the new south dependencies of the Monticello mansion (Stanton 2000:113). Documentary evidence suggests that their brother John Hemings subsequently moved into Building r, but the succeeding resident of Building s is unknown.
Excavation history, procedure, and methods
Excavation of the sites of Buildings r, s, and t began in the spring of 1983 with mechanical removal of the modern overburden (Sanford 1995:196). This included a paved roadway and parking lot laid down in 1934; an underlying level of furnace by-products dating to the early years of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation; and fill from a 1925 parking lot. Activity related to the roadwork impacted the Building s site, but not to the same extent as the flanking house sites of r and t.
Kelso and his crew discovered that three of the features (F01-03) exposed at the Building s site closely matched the predicted location, dimensions, and characteristics of the log dwelling Jefferson described in 1796, Building s. Most of the dry-laid stone foundation (F02) had been removed; a large portion of the packed-earth floor (F03) had been graded away; and a 20th-century posthole (F15) had been punched through the wood-lined sub-floor pit (F01). Subfloor pit at Building s with metal objects in situ. However, enough survived to make possible inferences about the appearance and use of Building s (Sanford in Kelso et al. 1985:26).
In addition to the evidence for Building s, exposure of the site revealed the remains of a second, previously unknown structure. Two brick piers (F22-23) mark the location of a building that straddled the sites of Building r and Buildings. (See Building r site, F02-05.) A search of the Foundation’s photographic archives located a c.1912 photograph providing a glimpse of a white-washed wooden building with a brick chimney in this location. No analysis of its associated assemblages has yet been undertaken, but it likely dates to the period when Monticello belonged to the Levy family (1834-1923).
Initially a grid of twelve 10′ X 10′ excavation units was laid out, within which 8′ X 8′ quadrats were opened, leaving 2′ intervening balks. Subsequent removal of the balks resulted in the excavation of units of varying sizes, from 2’ X 2’ to 2’ X 10’. Within units, excavation proceeded in natural levels with recorded beginning and ending elevations, but any relationship to a fixed datum point has been lost. Artifacts were recovered by a method of careful troweling without screening.
Summary of research and analysis
Good preservation of the Building s site combined with surviving documentation has made it possible to determine an unusual degree of detail about the manner of construction and history of use of the Building s site. Analysis of the assemblage associated with the 19th-century pier building at the Building s site has not yet been accomplished.
Kelso presented his conclusions about the appearance of Building s in a published isometric drawing (1997:60, fig. 21). It shows a cabin crafted of squared-off logs. The sides are sheathed with clapboards and the roof is covered with horizontally laid slabs. A single door, opening onto Mulberry Row, opposes a wattle-and-daub chimney on the southern gable end.
The archaeologically recovered portion of the foundation (F02) corresponds with Jefferson’s 1796 measurements of 12′ X 14′. A scatter of stone (F02) and two small postholes (F19-20) indicate the base of an external chimney, roughly 6′ 6″ X 2′ 6″. The paling fence (F24-27), constructed in 1809 to enclose the vegetable garden, passed so closely along the back side of the structure that the wattle-and-daub chimney rose up between two of its posts. In front of the hearth, a 3′ 8″ X 3′ 8″ sub-floor pit (F01) had been inserted into the packed-earth floor. Fragments of its pre-formed, Southern yellow pine wood lining were preserved in the clay soil.
Kelso concluded that Building s was built in 1792-93, and persisted after the 1809 fence was installed, perhaps as late as Jefferson’s death in 1826. He argued that a comparative analysis of the assemblages from slave housing on Mulberry Row revealed a pattern of social and economic hierarchy within the slave community (1986a and b; see also Gruber in Kelso et al. 1985).
Gruber (in Kelso et al. 1985; 1990; 1991) addressed the issue of the source of the assemblage recovered at Building s and what, if any, conclusions could be drawn about the preferences and behavior of Jefferson’s slaves. She argued that Jefferson determined the form, appearance, and placement of the buildings in which enslaved people lived and worked but probably with some consideration of the preferences of his slaves. The objects used and discarded by slaves at Buildings r, s, and t, as at all slave quarters, had been provided by Jefferson and, therefore, expressed more overtly his paternalism than slave preferences. The superior quality of ceramics and cuts of meats bespoke the advantages of living and working close to Jefferson’s mansion.
Sanford (1995) estimated the period of occupation of the Building s site to be ca. 1790 to 1830. He based the beginning date on mean ceramic dates as well as documentary evidence. He derived the terminal date from the artifact assemblage alone (p. 201). He observed that the area underlying the structure had been prepared by using large greenstone cobbles (F02) to level the surface. The floor (F03) was built up on the interior of the foundation using clay, gravel, and cobbles. (Sanford 1995:204; Sanford in Kelso et al. 1985:27-28). Sanford thought that postholes (F17, F21, F28) off to one side of the structure could be the remains of a 3′ x 5′ addition (Sanford 1995:25; Sanford in Kelso et al. 1985:30).
DAACS completed recataloguing of the Building s site assemblage in 2002. Several papers presented at the 2003 Society for Historical Archaeology conference used this data (Arendt 2003, Galle and Neiman 2003, Heath 2003, Olson 2003). These preliminary studies of ceramics, buttons, and tools demonstrate the utility of recording more fine-grained observations of artifacts. The greater temporal and stylistic sensitivity of the database yields insights into the variability among enslaved households in the selection of available consumer goods and the conditions informing their choices.
Thomas Jefferson Foundation
Things you need to know about Building s 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 s was excavated using the “Wheeler Box” excavation system of 8-by-8 foot quadrats with 2-foot balks. Unit size varies from 8-by-8 foot and 2-by-2 foot quadrats to 2-by-8 foot quadrats.
- The Building s site was impacted by activity related to the installation of 20th-century parking lots, but not to the same extent as the adjacent Building r and Building t sites. The northern portion of the foundation and floor surface of Building s was destroyed by construction, but a significant part of the foundation remained in the southern section of the structure.
The original excavators of the Building s 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).
|F01||Pit, subfloor(< 28 sq.ft)||838J2, 838D, 838E, 838F, 838G, 838J, 797G1, 797Y, 797H1, 797J1, 797H2, 797J2, 797K2, 797K1, 797V, 797G2, 797UNPROV|
|F03||Floor, clay||838C1, 797N1, 798K, 838C2|
|F22||Pier, brick||747D, 747K|
|F23||Pier, brick||756G, 756H, 756B|
|F04||Ditch, other||826B, 827B, 836B, 798D, 799D|
DAACS Seriation Method
This page summarizes a frequency-seriation based chronology for the Building s site that was developed by DAACS staff (see Neiman, Galle, and Wheeler 2003 for technical details). DAACS seriated ceramic assemblages, with more than 5 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. DAACS assigned such contexts to the same stratigraphic group. Stratigraphic groups have a SG-prefix, which precedes the group number (e.g. SG01 equals Stratigraphic Group 1). For example, at Building s, a single deposit, interpreted by the excavators as “occupation zone east of structure s”, spanned 3 adjacent quadrats (827, 828, and 839). This zone was excavated in 10 contexts (827C1, 827C2, 827C3, 827C4, 828D1, 828D2, 828D3, 828D4, 839B1, and 839B2). DAACS assigned these contexts to a single stratigraphic group (SG10). Not all contexts have stratigraphic group assignments.
DAACS chose to base the seriation chronology for the Building s 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. 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.
DAACS computed the frequency of mean-ceramic-date (MCD) types in each stratigraphic group and each individual context that had no stratigraphic group assignment. The seriation chronology is derived from a correspondence analysis of these MCD-type frequencies. Seriated stratigraphic groups and contexts were assigned to 4 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 s Site Phases
Based on the correspondence analysis, DAACS divided the Building s site occupation into 4 phases. Mean ceramic dates for the 4 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 shreds in the assemblage, based on their MCD-type. This second TPQ estimate is more robust against excavation errors and taphonomic processes that might have introduces a few anomalously late sherds in an assemblage. As the table reveals, all 4 phases at Building s contain post-Jefferson material (note the 1840 TPQ’s for all phases). But the mean ceramic date and TPQp90 estimates indicate the first three phases are dominated by Jefferson-era material.
Phase 1, which contains the majority of the material at the site, represents the early occupation of Building s, as shown as the Mutual Assurance Plat of 1796. The stratigraphic groups assigned to this phase include fill layers (SG01, SG02, SG03, SG04) in the small subfloor pit (F01) beneath Building s. One of the postholes (F15) associated with construction of a parking lot fence in the 1930’s yielded a small assemblage that fell in Phase 1. Phases 2 and 3 are comprised of successively later assemblages to which Jefferson-era occupation was the most important contributor. Only two assemblages from features were assigned to these phases. The assemblage from a second posthole associated with the 1930’s fence line (F16) fell in Phase 2, while the assemblage from a ditch at the northern edge of the site (F04) fell in Phase 3. Phase 4 is dominated by post-Jefferson deposition, perhaps associated with the later Brick Pier Structure (FG05: F22,F23) that sits on the western edge of the site and extends onto the adjacent Building r site.
A Seriation Chronology for the Building s Site
The following table presents a seriation chronology for the Building s 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 s 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. “Occupation zone west of Bldg. s”). Contexts that could not be assigned to stratigraphic groups are identified by their individual context numbers (e.g. 747L).
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 s Chronology for stratigraphic and phase information.
For a printable version, download the Harris Matrix [124.21 KB PDF].
PDF of composite excavator's plan compiled by DAACS from original field drawings.
CAD site plan in .dxf format.
Arendt, Beatrix , Fraser D. Neiman , and Jillian E. Galle
2003 Model Consumers? Clues to Ceramic Acquisition at Slave Quarter Sites in the Greater Chesapeake. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. On file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
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.
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.
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.
1990 The Archaeology of Mr. Jefferson. Unpublished M.A. thesis, Winterthur Program, University of Delaware, Wilmington, Delaware.
1991 The Archaeology of Slave Life at Thomas Jefferson. In Quarterly Bulletin of the Archeological Society of Virginia 46(1): 2-9.
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., Diana C. Johnson , Ann M. Smart , Anna Gruber , and Douglas W. Sanford
1985 Monticello Black History/Craft Life Archaeological Project, 1984-1985. Progress report. Submitted to the National Endowment for the Humanities. 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.
1997a Sub-Floor Pits and Slavery in 18th- and Early 19th-Century Virginia. Unpublished paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Corpus Christi, Texas. 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.
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.
Shumate, M. Scott
1992 Georgian Worldview: Its Definition, History, and Influence on the Material World of Thomas Jefferson. Unpublished M.A. thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee.