Monday, August 14, 2006

Slavery archaeology update Archaeologists seek clues into evolution of slave life
What’s new is the emphasis on slave history. “We have reams of information about Thomas Jefferson and the things he did,” said Don Gaylord, archaeological analyst. Most of Monticello’s inhabitants were enslaved, he said, “and there’s really very, very little written about them. The vast majority are invisible to the historical records.”

Site 8 and the neighboring Site 7 are of particular interest to Monticello’s archaeologists because they predate all other known non-Native American settlements on the mountain, Neiman said. The tobacco-farming slaves of Jefferson’s father, who resided in Shadwell, lived in cabins there in the mid-18th century. (Jefferson didn’t move in until 1769, once construction of Monticello was under way.) In the 1760s, however, the settlement was abandoned, and later plowed to make way for wheat cultivation.

It's about how the settlement patterns of slaves may have changed in response to different agriculture. Though the headline makes one think of physical evolution; don't know if anyone's studied that in detail yet.