Colonial Williamsburg Research Division Web Site

Archaeology

An archaeological dig

The Department of Archaeological Research conducts original research on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century colonial archaeology and material culture, including but not limited to studies of urbanization, community development, and zooarchaeological method. The Department is involved in extensive public education, historic preservation activities, archaeological excavations in support of museum-related or other programs, and inter-disciplinary grant-supported studies, including major multi-year assessments of Jamestown Island and Yorktown in cooperation with the National Park Service.

Advanced zooarchaeological and archaeobotanical research is conducted and techniques for excavating and studying colonial urban sites are refined using Edward Harris’s methods of stratigraphic recording and GIS applications pioneered by Dominic Powlesland. Studies of comparative colonialism are conducted through jointly-sponsored programs with the National Trusts of Bermuda and Barbados and with the Bermuda Maritime Museum, as well as with other organizations.

In cooperation with the College of William & Mary, the Department conducts yearly archaeological field schools in colonial archaeology for graduate and undergraduate students. The Department also oversees the largest colonial-period archaeological collection in the United States, consisting of several million objects and fragments recovered during more than 60 years of excavation; extensive comparative historic-period faunal and archaeobotanical collections; and the Martin’s Hundred collection of early seventeenth-century material culture.

Colonial Williamsburg visitors: Where to find archaeology when you visit