We are the Colchester Archaeological Research Team and are conducting excavations on Mason Neck, Virginia. We are investigating prehistoric sites ranging from approximately 500 to 8,000 years old and the historic Virginia tobacco port town of Colchester. We utilize both professional staff and volunteer help.

CART – Reaching Out

Social media is becoming more and more a part of archaeology. The Colchester Archaeological Research Team (CART) writes about two blog posts a week and most of the staff members get an opportunity to write. Every other Friday, we send out a biweekly update via email, then post it to our C.A.R.T. Archaeology blog. Part of my job today was to post a jpeg of our email biweekly to the blog.

the CART Biweekly Update

the CART Biweekly Update

Public outreach is important to the Colchester Archaeological Research Team. We could not do what we do without public interest and support. We are extremely thankful for our volunteers, interns, and work study students.

We try to participate in or host events that will bring what we find into the community. Every couple of years, our friends group hosts an open house on the park. We are excited and proud of the work we do and we think the public will enjoy it as well.

Interns & Work Study Programs

At the Cultural Resource Management & Protection Branch of the FCPA, both the Colchester Archaeological Research Team (CART) as well as other projects provide opportunities in the form of work study programs and internships. The programs focus in different areas including archaeological field and lab, office skills, archaeological collections and GIS.

While it is quieter than usual at the office and lab, the students are all here today. Jackie works on updating and organizing some of our old archaeological reference materials. Philip, our GIS intern, works on both GIS and in AutoCAD. Jonathan, the archaeological laboratory intern is helping to update our catalog before beginning his chosen project. Jen is helping with the archaeological collections.









Elsewhere in Fairfax, Virginia…

Outside of the Colchester Park, there is more archaeology going on in Fairfax County, Virginia. This morning I visited Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly. The park has incredible cultural resources spanning at least 10,000 years. Todays purpose was to scout areas to investigate during this year’s Archaeology Youth Program. Our initial thought were to look for a post in ground structure that burned down in the late nineteenth century. We know that it was located near the historic Walney Visitor’s Center. ECL

Walney VC

A change of pace

After spending the last few weeks cataloging the wet screened tiny lithics and seeds from OCPP 1.0, we have moved onto OCPP 2.0 here in the lab. FINALLY! The field crew did a great job on the flood plain survey and recovered a rhyolite Lamoka point from strat B1, along with quartz debitage. Our new volunteer, Austin, is helping us rebag the artifacts from the field.

photo 1


Roots in the Test Unit – CART Field

In a test unit at Old Colchester Park & Preserve Jonathan digs out a root.

At Old Colchester Park & Preserve Jonathan digs out a root.

It is beautiful in Northern Virginia today. The weather is perfect. In the field at Old Colchester Park & Preserve, Jonathan Brisendine digs around a small root that invades his test unit. The area of the park that the CART field crew is currently working has mainly yielded scatters of lithics and prehistoric ceramics. Most of what has been found is flake scatters from making stone tools thousands of years ago. Even the tiny flakes provide information that will be analyzed to assess the type of activities that occurred in the distant past.

Right now, though, Jonathan concentrates on not allowing roots to disturb the archaeological test unit too much. It is common for archaeologists to figure ways to work around or with bioturbation such as roots or rodent burrows.

Jean Carefully Digging


Jean shovel skims her test unit on the Old Colchester Park & Preserve. Since the CART field crew is working in an area that has mainly prehistoric artifacts, the crew digs down in 5 cm levels. They also pay close attention and dig by changes in stratigraphy. The picture shows the soil color changes in the walls of Jean’s test unit. The change of color is one of the ways we identify a transition in stratigraphy. Soil texture is another indication of changing stratigraphy.

Quiet in the CART Lab

The Colchester Archaeological Research Team is happy to be back for another Day of Archaeology & looking forward to seeing how our colleagues days are going.

Due to weather & staff schedules, the past two days have been busy at our lab in Northern Virginia; however, today is extremely quiet. Outside, it is perfect weather. A few of our staff are on vacation and a few are in meetings. Mostly, the field crew is taking advantage of the sun & reasonable temperature at the Old Colchester Park & Preserve while the CART lab director is enjoying the rare solitude.

Putting away ceramics from the type collection in the archaeology lab in Fairfax County, VA

Putting away ceramics from the type collection in the Lab.