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Virginia Beach, VA

James River Institute for Archaeology, Inc. conducted an archaeological assessment of the Adam Thoroughgood House in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The Adam Thoroughgood House has long been thought to be one of the oldest houses in English-speaking America; however modern scholarship indicates that the house likely dates to the early 18th century. Nonetheless, it is still one of the earliest surviving houses in Virginia and a National Historic Landmark. The 4.29-acre property is situated in the northern part of the City of Virginia Beach on a small cove off the Western Branch of the Lynnhaven River. The archaeological assessment was conducted for the City of Virginia Beach’s Department of Museums and Cultural Arts Historic Houses Division. The intent of the archaeological assessment was to provide basic information concerning the nature and distribution of archaeological resources within the project area for future planning and interpretation.

The fieldwork component of the archaeological assessment of the property consisted first of a systematic shovel test hole survey at intervals of 25 feet or less. The shovel test survey, which covered the entire 4.29-acre property, revealed a general scatter of prehistoric and historic artifacts in 135 of the 140 test holes. Despite the high percentage of positive shovel test holes, the artifact density per shovel test hole generally was low. Archaeologists subsequently excavated 11 test units in those areas that suggested the presence of features or intact strata.

Prehistoric artifacts recovered during the archaeological assessment consisted exclusively of pottery with the single exception of a small triangular projectile point, and indicated a significant Middle to Late Woodland occupation on the property with well preserved deposits to the west and south of the main house. The results suggest the possibility that the Adam Thoroughgood House is with the Late Woodland village site of Apasus. Evidence of 18th and early 19th century activity was found principally south of the main house including a probable midden, a rubble layer perhaps related to an outbuilding, possible brick clamp, and fence line posthole(s).

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