Other than cities, towns, and road systems, what we see today on the eastern mid-Atlantic U.S. landscape is quite different than what Native Americans saw before European contact. It was a world that essentially vanished as colonizers took root and transformed their environment to meet their needs. This is nothing new to most historians.
Thanks to recent research, however, scientists can now reconstruct that landscape with accuracy, providing information that may also help manage the environment of today.
It all has to do with milldams and leaves. According to a team of geoscientists, sediment behind milldams in Pennsylvania preserved leaves deposited just before European contact, providing a glimpse of ancient forests. Read more.
The hedge around your house is much more than just a random shrub with green leaves. It’s a symbol of private property and marks the boundary between what’s mine and what’s yours.
The idea to enclose and define with straight lines is actually an ancient one.
Some of the first archaeological evidence of landscape boundaries dates back to England around 1,500 BC, but 500 years later it also appears in the rest of Northwestern Europe.
“From being a predominantly open landscape with large commons with scattered trees and bushes, the landscape became dominated by linear demarcation lines. People started to enclose their fields and suddenly started building embankments and trenches around their houses and villages,” says PhD student Mette Løvschal, who works at Aarhus University’s Department of Culture and Society – Section for Prehistoric Archaeology, where she is using archaeological finds and anthropological theories to try and solve the riddle of when, how and why we suddenly started enclosing what was ours. Read more.
FOREST, Va.— Another link to the past is being restored at Thomas Jefferson’s Bedford County retreat.
Poplar Forest is replanting the home’s original landscape.
Archeologists have spent the last two years looking for evidence of trees and flowers that used to grow on the property.
New versions of the former plants are being installed, starting with a grove of paper mulberry trees that was replanted Tuesday.
Each is in the same location where Jefferson planted his own trees 200 years ago.
"We went through a very exacting process to finad exactly where he planted these trees, so that when we restore it we know it is exact locations and it is evocative of his design," said Jack Gary, Director of Archaeology and Landscapes at Poplar Forest.
The landscape restoration is being funded with help from the Garden Club of Virginia. (source)