The Early History of Seaport Alexandria: New Insights from Archaeology
Eleanor Breen, City Archaeologist, will discuss the recent discoveries on the Alexandria waterfront, describing the process that led to these findings and providing a fascinating glimpse into what life was like in the 18th-century town. In 2012, City Council approved a plan to revitalize Alexandria’s historic waterfront. Just as Alexandrians sought to transform their sleepy tobacco town into a prosperous port, so too do today’s residents envision an viable and vibrant waterside destination. Because of the unique, 30-year old Archaeology Protection Code requiring excavation prior to certain development projects, Alexandria Archaeology geared up for a period of intensive focus on some of the most historically significant areas within the National Register Old and Historic District. Block by block, project by project, the remains of wharves, warehouses, dwellings, industries, privies, and of course four ships have begun to emerge from the waterlogged depths at the river’s edge. Even as individual features and artifact assemblages, these finds are highly significant, but when taken together along with a wealth of historical documentary data, a maritime cultural landscape is taking form. This presentation offers a tour of the archaeological evidence of the diverse neighborhoods, bustling wharves, and massive land making efforts that characterized the Alexandria seaport at the turn of the eighteenth century.
201 South Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
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