An Archaeological Overview and Assessment of the Main Unit Petersburg National Battlefield, Virginia

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The overview and assessment will examine historical evidence, the extensive archaeological database from the immediate vicinity, and regional cultural context to evaluate the archaeological potential within the Main Unit. It will be argued that an an important element of the archaeological/historical/cultural record is the surviving landscape. The anthropological perspective promoted herein argues that "landscape" is reflected in natural and cultural remnants that may be exposed and recorded by researchers was shaped by activities such as agricultural practices that formed the the economic basis of existence but left no obvious physical remains, and is interpreted by conceptions of the past that are often conditioned by concerns in the present. This overview and assessment will, as a consequence, seek a broader cultural context for the prehistoric and particularly the historic occupations in the Petersburg vicinity.


The survey methodology employed by MAAR at Fort Lee emphasized surface examination when possible and subsurface excavation of shovel test pits 1 foot square, generally to a depth of 1 foot. The interval between, shovel tests was 100 feet, which was reduced to 50 feet upon discovery of prehistoric or historic artifacts in a given shovel test. The base was subdivided into survey units, each measuring 500 feet square or 5.74 acres. Units comprising a total of 3609 acres were examined, which constituted a 66.7 % sample of the base (Opperman and Hanson 1985:5-2, 5-3).