Archaeology of a Virginia Plantation, 1619-1864
Author: James Deetz, published by University Of Virginia Press in 1995
Flowerdew Hundred’s History starts in 1618 when the Virginia Company of London granted a 1000-acres plot of Land, situated on Virginia’s James River to George Yeardley, though written historical documents don’t provide a complete story.
The plantation is named for Temperance Flowerdew, Sir George Yeardley’s wife. Yearley (1587-1627) owned the plantation and he was the 3-time colonial Governor of Virginia, the British Colony. Flowerdew Hundred is a former Virginia plantation located in Prince George County, on the south shores of the James River.
Sir George survived the ill-fated 3rd Supply Mission of the Virginia Company of London when the Sea Venture, the company’s flagship, was shipwrecked for ten months on Bermuda in the years 1609 and 1610.
Yearley is well-known for being the chair of Virginia’s first legislative body in 1619. This group consisted of representatives from all across the colony and was referred to as the House of Burgesses. Today, this body is known as the Virginia General Assembly.
The land on which Flowerdew Hundred sits was already inhabited around 10,000 years ago by a number of Virginia Indian Tribes that cultivated the land and waters in the region. Later, the region was further developed by English colonists, African American slaves, soldiers of the Union, and numerous others. Each of these groups left evidence of the way they spent their daily lives behind.
During the last decades of the 20th century, a much clearer image of the life of early Virginia inhabitants has emerged due to various archaeological excavations at Flowerdew Hundred. The University of Virginia displays lots of artifacts of the “Flowerdew Hundred Collection” that were unearthed at the one-of-a-kind historical site.
James Deetz wrote the findings in his book titled “Archaeology of a Virginia Plantation, 1619-1864”, published in 1995 by University Of Virginia Press. The book is an important synopsis of the impressive results after 25 years of archaeological excavations and investigations at the site of Flowerdew Hundred.
All through the publication, James Deetz conveys how crucial it is to combine archaeology and historiography to come to enhanced understanding of cultures of days gone by. Deetz’ multidirectional approach becomes clear as he examines things like Colony-ware pottery, smoking-pipe stems, and earlier constructions at the Flowerdew Hundred site. See also this post about the History of Flowerdew.
Deetz compared archaeological records at the Flowerdew site with those found at other eastern seaboard locations, in particular relating to pits and icehouses. He examined regional historical elements of the Chesapeake and additionally examined and compared architectural elements of Salem, South Africa.
In this way, Deetz could contextually reconstruct Flowerdew’s history during the 17th, 8th, and 19th centuries. For archaeological scientists, amateur archaeologists, and the general public, Deetz reveals and documents the intertwining of historical events and situations, folk studies, and archaeology in a simplistic way and gives a very clear picture what life on an important Virginia plantation was all about.
“Archaeology of a Virginia Plantation, 1619-1864” is written in a highly engaging style. Deetz demonstrates his capacity to blend historical and archaeological data in an entertaining and fascinating book that gives his readers a rather complete picture of Virginia history in earlier days. Deetz’ colleagues, archaeologists, and students all agree that he has written this historically important book in a stimulating and compelling style and that many generations of peers and students will be able to enjoy this enormous piece of work. Check out also this post about Washington DC, our nation’s capital that is so steeped in history.