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Staunton River Battlefield

Summer 2015

May 18 - June 11

This summer the Field School will be excavating at the Wade site from May 18 through June 11, 2015. Interested in visiting? Click here to see a Google map for directions or call the park at 434-454-4312. The pictures below are simply a sample of images from the dig.


The Staunton River Battlefield Project: A 1,000 Year-Old Sappony Indian Village on A Civil War Battlefield

The Staunton River Battlefield Project is a collaboration between the Dr. James W. Jordan Archaeology Field School and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation – Division of State Parks.   This research is being undertaken at Staunton River Battlefield State Park.  Originally the focus was on the Civil War battle that took place on this site in 1864.  Following the work on the Civil War site, the focus shifted to the prehistoric past when the 1,,000 year-old Late Woodland period Wade Site was discovered.

To date, more than 100,000 artifacts have been recovered from this site and radiocarbon dating has demonstrated that the site was occupied from approximately 950 A.D. to 1425 A.D..  Paleo-environmental data has indicated that the site was occupied year-round, rather than seasonally and it is currently estimated that between around 200 people lived at the Wade Site.   This research has focused on a variety of questions including subsistence strategy and horticultural development, social organization, mortuary practices and environment reconstruction. 

Some of the more intriguing evidence at the site relates to the variability in the burial practices that may indicate social stratification and a shift from Big Man to Chiefdom social organization.  Also of interest is whether the site was actually an island in the Staunton River and whether it may have been one at the time the site was occupied.  Future fieldwork will continue to seek answers to these and other questions.

The research project has benefitted immeasurably from generous grants from the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative as well as from ISTEA / T21 grants.