Montpelier Archaeologists Employ New Technology to Reveal Slave Experience

Archaeologists at James Madison’s Montpelier are getting a glimpse into the property’s past by using new technology that allows them to see things they’ve never before been able to see.

“This is a dream come true for me; this is Christmas in April,” says Matthew Reeves, Montpelier’s director of archaeology.

This technology – called lidar – allows archaeologists to see paths through the woods that date back to the 1700s. They say these trails were walked every day by slaves.

Lidar technology uses infrared light beams and works similarly to radar. You can see through the trees, and spot features like mill races, home sites, old roads, and foot paths.

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