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During the Renaissance period and later during the Victorian Age in Europe, rich people made their servants dig for them. The rich people collected jewelry or anything that looked valuable. "Archaeology" was just a hobby - casual and entertaining. During this time, there were a few important archaeological "finds" and attempts at the science of archaeology, such as John Aubrey's and William Stukeley's careful observations and detailed sketches of Stonehenge in the late 1600's and early 1700's. There was clear interest in other cultures, too. When Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798, he brought with him a team of scientists to learn more about the Egyptian culture - including a detailed description of the monuments there. But, for most of those who dug up old things or took an interest in other cultures, there was no systematic or scientific approach to the dig. However, there was one person during this time who approached it a different way.
In the late 1700s, Thomas Jefferson, while living at Monticello, received a letter from the French government asking about him about everyday life in Virginia. To their surprise, his response was long document called "Notes on the State of Virginia" which covered a variety of topics including Native American burial grounds. His interest in the burial grounds was his major archaeological activity. He decided to explore the burial mounds so that he, and others, could learn more about the Native American's history. He used a very scientific approach to digging up the mounds. For example, rather than directly digging up the site, he would take samples of soil from around the mounds to provide him more information about the surrounding area. When he dug, he carefully noted the layers in the soil and used that information in his analysis. Like archaeologists today, Thomas Jefferson was the first to use a notebook to record each dig site. He was so advanced in his scientific approach that it would be another century until other archaeologists would match his techniques.