- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 25, 2004

CHARLOTTESVILLE (AP) — Excavators have found thousands of artifacts while shoring up a 200-year-old wall along the north terrace of Monticello.The discovery of the items might help researchers learn the extent of Thomas Jefferson’s activities in leveling the mountaintop to build his mansion.”We will draw conclusions about the original shape of the mountaintop and study the artifacts to get good information about the ceramics and different periods of construction,” said Sara Bon-Harper, Monticello’s archaeological research manager.The dig didn’t start out as research. Work on the wall started in November when it began to bow from soil pressure and poor drainage, Miss Bon-Harper said.Miss Bon-Harper and a crew of about eight professional excavators are digging a trench along the wall about 5 feet deep, 5 feet wide and eventually 125 feet long. So far, the trench is about 40 feet long.After all the dirt is removed, a mason will install a retaining wall and drain to relieve soil pressure.Among the discovered artifacts are building materials such as bricks, mortar, nails and window glass. Those items, she noted, will help Monticello archaeologists determine how the wall was originally constructed.”A couple of items we were pretty jazzed about finding, including a set of keys that may well have been used for the doors for the north pavilion,” Miss Bon-Harper said.The excavation also will provide researchers with information about whether trees, shrubs or flowers were planted along the wall as once planned by Jefferson.An 1825 watercolor of Monticello shows trees lining the West Lawn side of the north dependencies.Archaeologists also have discovered dishes, drinking glasses and animal bones. Jefferson’s servants would often sweep trash out the door or throw it out the nearest window, Miss Bon-Harper said.”Refuse disposal was not at all what it is now,” she said.Among the more modern discoveries made along the terrace are 20th-century coins, Monticello spokesman Wayne Mogielnicki said. “After people go to the terrace to see the University of Virginia,” he said, “we think, as they are taking out their cameras, they drop change from their pockets.”

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