Ecological Change at James Madison's Montpelier


This is an abstract from the "Zooarchaeology, Faunal, and Foodways Studies" session, at the 2019 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

Zooarchaeological evidence from James Madison’s Montpelier, spanning a century of occupation at the presidential plantation, provides an opportunity to explore the ecological impacts of the colonial plantation system in the Piedmont region of Virginia. From 1732 to 1836, enslaved labourers living throughout the property cultivated wheat, corn, and tobacco, and raised livestock including chickens, sheep, swine, and cattle. Zooarchaeological data indicates that members of the enslaved community also hunted and gathered wild foods both for the Madison table and for their own dietary needs. Wild game identified from these assemblages include deer, squirrel, racoon, possum, turtle, and wild turkey. At Montpelier, wild game, particularly among forest-dwelling species, decrease over time relative to domesticated animals, perhaps reflecting agricultural deforestation, a change in diet among the Madisons and/or the enslaved community, or a shift in labor practices.

Cite this Record

Ecological Change at James Madison's Montpelier. Lindsay A Smith, Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman, Scott Oliver. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, St. Charles, MO. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449170)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 501