Topic ID #32122 - posted 4/5/2014 3:12 AM

Field School James Madison's Montpelier--Orange Virginia

Montpelier Archaeology

Montpelier in Orange, VA, is the lifelong home of James Madison, Jr., fourth present of the United States and acknowledged by his peers as the "Father of the Constitution."  While Madison's service to his country would frequently take him from his beloved Montpelier, he would return following his retirement from the Continental Congress, and during his service as Secretary of State under Thomas Jefferson would frequently return to Montpelier during the "malarial months" of summer.  Finally, after two terms of service as president, Madison, Jr. retired to a much-changed Montpelier where he would become known as the "Old Sage of Montpelier."  For the next two decades, visitors would be drawn to Montpelier not only to visit Madison, but to enjoy the famous hospitality of Dolley Madison, the first First Lady.
On Constitution Day, 2008, James Madison's Montpelier celebrated the exterior restoration of the house and announced the "Presidential Detective Story," a program of research that would aim to not only restore the furnishings of the interior of the mansion but look at Madison in the context of 19th-century planter society--as man, planter, and slave owner.  We just completed a four-year study of the homes of the enslaved community and now are embarking on a comparative study of the 18th and 19th century landscape around the mansion. This summer we will be looking at the well-preserved 18th century foundations for flanking outbuildings, searching for a dairy, and looking at planting features.
The Program
Two separate field school programs are run through James Madison’s Montpelier: 
Each program is accredited through the sponsoring institution (see below) and shares the same syllabus.

The field program itself is comprised of four weeks of excavation coupled with time spent in the laboratory learning fundamental techniques in post-excavation analysis. Each week of the field program is coupled with a thematic series of lectures designed to highlight specific methodological issues:
  • Week 1. 18th and 19th century artifacts—identification, chronology, and status.
  • Week 2. Stratigraphy and Soils—the use and identification of archaeological strata to determine site chronology and depositional history.
  • Week 3. Site Stratum—methodological techniques for analyzing and interpreting site function.
  • Week 4. The Archaeological Assemblage—interpreting an archaeological site from the perspective of the assemblage.
Each week is associated with a brief “weekly project” that aims to reinforce the application of the technique and, along with assessment of field and laboratory performance, provides the primary assessment of the field school. 

A summary of the JMU field school is provided, below: 
  • Credits: 4 or 5.
  • Schedule: Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Lectures and site visits are in addition to this.
  • Principal Contact: dig {at} montpelier {dot} org
  • Faculty: Dr. Matthew Reeves (faculty instructor), Dr. Terry Brock
For the SUNY Plattsburgh field school:
  • Credits 6.
  • Schedule: Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Lectures and site visits are in addition to this.
  • Principal Contact: dig {at} montpelier {dot} org
  • Faculty: Dr. Matthew Reeves (Faculty Instructor), Dr. Terry Brock
Tuition costs for both field schools are TBA, but are estimated at this juncture to be approximately $1,400.

Field school participants are accommodated in a refurbished 19th-century house set in several acres of private land.  Arlington house has two full kitchens and set of kitchen supplies and applies, though students are required to provide their own meals.  Accommodation is "dormitory style" and includes 8 bedrooms and 5 full bathrooms.
Additional facilities include a high-efficiency washer/dryer, satellite television, and wired satellite internet (please note that there is a Fair Use Policy enforced by the ISP).  An emergency telephone line is included, allowing incoming and outgoing (local only) calls, so students wishing to make long-distance calls with the phone will need a calling card.  Cell reception is patchy.
Cost: $400 for the duration of the field school, which includes an archaeological equipment kit.  There is an additional $50 housing fee that is refunded if fair wear/tear damage is reported, but a proportion will be remaindered if damage is unreported.
We maintain an active intern program for students who have successfully completed an archaeological field school, most commonly the Montpelier field school.  Paid internships are offered on a limited and competitive basis and are based on both field school performance and assessment by the archaeological staff.  Unpaid internships are also offered.
All applicants for internships should provide a cover letter and up-to-date resume to the dig <at> montpelier <dot> org address preferably before the field school.

Montpelier Archaeology Expeditions & Excursions (1-2 week programs)
For students, volunteers, and individuals wishing to have a brief introduction to archaeology, Montpelier offers the Archaeology Expedition programs.  For more information on the Expedition programs please see:


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