Department of Archaeology & Landscape Restoration
ARCHAEOLOGY AT MONTPELIER
Cultural Resource Management
The Montpelier Archaeology Department aims to discover, preserve, and interpret Montpelier’s Madison-era landscape and other cultural and archaeological resources through cutting edge archaeological methods and research, professional development, public engagement, and citizen science.
This is achieved through public excavation programs, descendant community engagement, professional training for future and current archaeologists through our field school and internship program, and the regular dissemination of our archaeological research to the public and fellow researchers.
Archaeology Projects and Resources
The Montpelier Archaeology Department undertakes a variety of different projects at Montpelier relating to archaeological research, staff development and training, and public programming. Our staff is actively publishing, sharing our data and work, and contributing to professional conferences. To learn more, access different resources such as our technical reports, and visit online exhibits, use the buttons to the right.
Digging Deeper Blog
Our blog is where you can get a behind the scenes look at all of our projects and research. This is a place for those of you who want to take a Deeper Dive into the day-to-day work of an archaeologist!
Dig With Us!
Work alongside our staff through the LEARN Archaeology Expedition Program! No experience necessary. Learn more by clicking below!
Matthew Reeves, PhD
Director of Archaeology and Landscape Restoration
Matt has been the Director of Archaeology since 2000 and leads the overall archaeological research at James Madison’s Montpelier. Dr. Reeves is the principal investigator for all archaeological projects on the property. Over the past two decades, Dr. Reeve’s research has focused on plantation life, Civil War encampments, and an overall focus on sites of the African Diaspora (both pre-and post-emancipation).
Prior to Montpelier, he directed projects at Manassas National Battlefield Park, Jefferson Patterson Park, and various New York DOT projects, and has worked on a wide variety of historic and pre-contact sites in Maryland, Virginia, New York, and Jamaica. His doctorate is from Syracuse University and focused on 19th-century settlements of the enslaved in Jamaica that he spent two years surveying and excavating.
Christopher Pasch, M.A.
Archaeology Field Director
Chris joined the Montpelier staff in 2017. Prior to Montpelier, Chris worked at Historic St. Mary’s City, in Southern Maryland, as a Field Supervisor and Assistant Lab Supervisor. He has over a decade of experience working in the Mid-Atlantic on pre-contact indigenous sites, 17th-18th century colonial settlements, 19th-century plantation landscapes, and early 20th-century sites.
Chris received his MA in Historical Archaeology from the University of Leicester and his BA in History and English Literature from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. His M.A. thesis used the Temple and icehouse at Montpelier to explore the experiences and knowledge of enslaved laborers conducting icehouse labor, and their readings and perspective on the Temple as a symbolic structure in the early American republic. Chris specializes in landscape archaeology, memory and heritage studies, public and community-based archaeology, the archaeology of identities, geographic information systems (GIS), and digital data collection.
Liz McCague, M.A.A., Archaeology Lab Manager
Archaeology Lab Manager
Liz is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Maryland from Columbia, Maryland. She earned her BA in anthropology with minors in museum studies and African diaspora studies from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 2015 and her Master’s in Applied Anthropology from the University of Maryland in 2020.
Liz was trained in historical archaeology while at St. Mary’s, conducting fieldwork in The Gambia, West Africa, Jamaica, and at plantation sites in southern Maryland. Following her undergraduate degree, Liz was employed at Montpelier as an archaeology intern, archaeology field technician, and archaeology crew chief until 2018 where she worked on excavations of domestic quarters of the enslaved community, smokehouses, trash middens, a kitchen and planters cottage, and the temple icehouse entrance.
Her research interests include public archaeology, plantation landscapes, racial capitalism, and multispecies entanglements. Liz’s ongoing dissertation research focuses on equestrian labor practices surrounding the horse industry at James Madison’s Montpelier. She returned to Montpelier as the archaeology lab manager in June of 2023. She enjoys farmers markets, linocut block printing, gardening, and Pokemon Go.
Archaeology Programs Coordinator
Melissa has worked as an interpreter for Montpelier’s Education Program for 12 years. She has done four expedition programs and found them enriching in too many ways to be listed here. Melissa has an M.A. in American Civilization and is a geek over just about anything having to do with the vernacular architecture and domestic environment of the Early Modern era.
Metal Detector Technician
Dennis Bjorklund began working at Montpelier in 2014 after attending a metal detecting expedition. He has been metal detecting since 1985, including working as an Unexploded Ordinance Detection technician for the US Military. He also has a background in surveying. He oversees and conducts the metal detector survey at Montpelier.
Metal Detector Technician
Lance Crosby has over thirty years of metal detecting experience in Virginia. Lance began working for the archaeology department in 2008 and has logged well over 3000 historic hits (pre 1900 in era) and located two dozen Civil War or antebellum sites across the property.
Terry P. Brock, PhD
Former Assistant Director for Archaeology
Terry Brock served in Montpelier’s Archaeology Department from 2014- 2021. He directed the field excavations at Montpelier and has research interests in publicly engaged scholarship, plantation archaeology, and digital cultural heritage. Terry received his PhD in Anthropology from Michigan State University. Terry is now a colleague at Wake Forest University.
Mary Furlong Minkoff, PhD
Former Assistant Director for Archaeology and Curator of Archaeological Collections
Mary Furlong Minkoff joined Montpelier in 2015 and oversaw the archaeology laboratory and archaeological collections. Her research interests focus on civically engaged archaeology, African-American archaeology, and sensory archaeology. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in Anthropology, and her MA in Historical Archaeology from the University of West Florida. Prior to her time at Montpelier, Mary worked across the Eastern Seaboard and with the National Parks Service. Mary now serves as the Executive Director of the Florida Public Archaeology Network.