**Co-Authored with David Rotenizer, Franklin County Office of Economic Development – Tourism**
Every October, Virginia celebrates archaeology at libraries, museums, historical societies, clubs, and at active archaeological sites. Below are some sites with active digs or special exhibits you can visit to celebrate Archaeology Month in Virginia. October 20 is International Archaeology Day. Keep a look out for special events across the Commonwealth.
Please call the attraction ahead of time for full details on current programs.
Colonial Williamsburg Archaeology excavates 17th and 18th century sites in Williamsburg’s historic area to. Take a guided tour of the Archaeology Labs or view archaeological objects and hear about current research, excavation techniques, curatorial efforts, and the functions of different labs.
Excavations at Poplar Forest are currently centered on the northern corners of Jefferson’s retreat house looking for the remains of two ornamental tree clumps and two oval flower beds planted in 1812 and 1816. Additionally, archaeologists will continue field school excavations southeast of the main house near an antebellum slave cabin and Jefferson’s ornamental plant nursery.
Monticello’s Archaeology Department will host its annual open house on October 5, featuring displays and exhibits on recent discoveries in the field and the lab, as well as walking tours of the vanished Monticello Plantation landscape. Displays and exhibits are found in the Woodland Pavilion and the Visitors Center.
At Historic Jamestowne, explore the first permanent English colony in America. Jamestown Rediscovery offers many exciting opportunities to explore the island’s history and archaeology. Join archaeologists for a walking tour or visit the laboratory and see some of the 2-million artifacts recovered from the site.
Check out Road Scholar’s six-day hands-on program.
George Washington’s boyhood home, Ferry Farm, houses artifacts from colonial times and the Civil War that were found on the property. See archaeologists at work in the lab on weekdays. Visitors can also speak to a construction interpreter about the Washington house replica, enjoy the hiking trails and do some bird-watching in the Wild Meadow.
Mount Vernon’s archaeological assets are extremely valuable in the study of the Chesapeake region’s 18th century plantation life. Major excavations include the house for families slave quarter, Washington’s Distillery, and currently the Slave Cemetery. You can visit the site or volunteer to help, June – October.
The USS Monitor Center at The Mariners’ Museum is home to one of the most famous ships in Civil War history, the ironclad USS Monitor. Experience interactive exhibits and see remarkable artifacts like the iconic rotating gun turret. Publicly viewable, treatment tanks at the Batten Conservation Complex hold the Monitor’s largest artifacts. The Complex is home to the world’s largest marine archaeological metals conservation project.
Experience an 18th century house like never before at Menokin. See, touch and feel its internal make-up as over 80% of the original parts of this collapsed house still exist. Become part of the process as The Menokin Foundation undertakes the restoration of this National Historic Landmark in an innovative way using original fabric and architectural glass.
The Virginia Museum of Natural History curates millions of artifacts, fossils, rocks, and biological specimens to research and add to their collection. They also curate more than a million archaeological artifacts. Their facilities include an archaeology lab with reference collections for zooarchaeology. Visitors view the lab from a large observation window.
See archaeologists at work at Alexandria Archaeology Museum. The Museum displays the results of recent digs and interprets the results of research through exhibitions, tours and more. Artifacts include a 13,000-year-old Clovis point, centuries-old pottery and Civil War items. Over the past few years, the museum staff have been involved with the recovery of historic ship wrecks along the waterfront.
James Madison’s Montpelier hosts two 5-day immersive Archaeological Expedition Programs for the public where participants work side-by-side with professional archaeologists to discover and recreate the Madison plantation. Participants live on the historic grounds and experience history hands-on by digging for artifacts and taking part in recovering President Madison’s home with museum professionals.
Mead’s Tavern, a 1763 building in the Campbell County community of New London, is undergoing intensive archaeological and architectural investigation ahead of a planned restoration by Liberty University. Archaeologists studying the tavern’s basement have uncovered evidence of a colonial- era hearth and extensive floor deposits containing domestic artifacts. Join them on Oct. 27 for a tour.
Germanna Foundation broke ground in 2018 to build an all-new Hitt Archaeology Center. The facility will have space for cleaning, cataloging, and storing artifacts from archaeological work at the four Germanna Foundation properties.
Kittiewan Plantation is home to the Archeological Society of Virginia. Some of filming for mini-series Turn took place there. The 18th century home and grounds are available for tours. Regular open house tours from April to November, but other times by prior appointment. Archaeological and historic collections available for viewing.
Like so many other things, Virginia is host to a range of archaeological sites and resources available for visiting and often an opportunity to participate. To learn more, visit www.VirginiaArcheology.org or follow Facebook page @Virginia.ASV.
Do you know of any other active archaeological digs or treasures? Drop them in the comments below.