Archaeology at Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University maintains an active research program in archaeology. We conduct field work part of every year, usually in the spring and sometimes in the summer as well. Artifact research goes on year round at the Anthropology Laboratory and Museum.

Students have been participating in field schools with university faculty since the 1970s, beginning with excavations at Liberty Hall, a late 18th-century predecessor of Washington and Lee. 

In the 1980s, W&L archaeologists investigated early industries in the Valley of Virginia, particularly pottery kilns, and beginning in the 1990s focused on sites at the Longdale Mining Community in western Virginia. Later efforts included excavation at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and Morven Farm near Charlottesville, Virginia.

Currently W&L archaeologists and students are conducting research on the Washington and Lee University campus including the site believed to be Graham Hall, a dorm/academic building (c. 1804-1835) replaced by Robinson Hall (built in 1841). Other initiatives include archaeological testing of domestic and commercial structures at Jordan’s Point in Lexington, and research on the McDowell Cemetery near Fairfield, Virginia.