Archaeology has shaped our knowledge of George and Martha Washington's life and the daily experience of the enslaved community at Mount Vernon.
Archaeologists use diverse bits of evidence to learn more about how people shaped the landscape of Mount Vernon, and in turn how the landscape shaped the interactions of people with each other. This evidence is incredibly diverse in form and age. Everything from a building foundation to a small seed bead used to adorn a dress, a several thousand-year-old stone tool to coins dropped by a tourist twenty years ago, can be encountered by our staff on a daily basis. But large or small, ancient or new, each piece of evidence is valuable as a window into a moment in time.
Mount Vernon’s archaeological holdings are an extremely valuable resource for the study of eighteenth-century plantation life in the Chesapeake region of the United States. Major excavations include the house for families slave quarter, slave cemetery, Washington’s Distillery, the south grove midden, and the upper garden. An archaeological survey identified more than 100 archaeological sites documenting almost 4,000 years of habitation on the estate’s 425 acres.