Questioning Whether Thomas Jefferson Was the “Father” of American Archaeology
Author: Hatzenbuehler, Ronald
Source: History and Anthropology, Volume 22, Number 1, March 2011 , pp. 121-129(9)
Abstract:In Notes on the State of Virginia (1787 ), Thomas Jefferson described a systematic investigation he conducted of a Native American burial mound near his home at Monticello. Based upon this early excavation and Jefferson's report of the contents of various layers he observed in the mound, authors of introductory archaeological textbooks frequently refer to Jefferson as the “father” of archaeology in the United States. While Jefferson's methods anticipated modern archaeological techniques, this essay questions the extent to which he was a disinterested observer of what his dig uncovered. Because his conclusions were rooted less in understanding Native American cultures than they were in extinguishing them, perhaps archaeologists should look for another person to be accorded the title of “father” of their discipline.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: March 2011