The Leading Edge program in archaeology will introduce a select group of incoming first-year students to the research program in historical archaeology at Washington and Lee. Our group will engage in archaeological field excavation and laboratory analysis, learning how archaeology acts not only as a supplement to document-based history, but also as a remedy to some of the problems posed by documents. We will learn about the 18th and 19th century institutions that developed into W&L and about the wealth of resources we can use to bring this early history to light. Finally, field trips to nearby sites of international importance will allow us to experience the range of ways archaeologists use the material remains of the past to interpret and teach history in the present.

On Campus: We will spend two days learning about and excavating at Liberty Hall, the precursor site of Washington and Lee, which subsequently became the site of an ante-bellum slave plantation owned by alumni and Trustees of the University. During these two days we will also have hands-on classroom time learning about the importance of this site in the history of our university and to Virginia more broadly. We also will have evening programs to explore and experience the history and beauty of our campus.

Off campus: We will spend two days at historical Virginia plantations where archaeology plays an important part of their research and public interpretation: Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, James Monroe's Highland, and James Madison's Montpelier. At these Presidential homes we will hike the grounds, visiting the sites of past and ongoing archaeological excavation so we can learn about the various ways that archaeology helps tell the stories of our Founding Fathers and of the enslaved folks that these men held in bondage. In between these two days of visits, we will spend one night in Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia, where we will have an evening guest lecture in archaeology.

We look forward to sharing our love of archaeology with you. If you have any questions about the details of the program or about archaeology at Washington and Lee in general, please feel free to contact Don Gaylord at