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Davis Bottom (foreground) in an aerial photograph taken on November 19, 2010.

Davis Bottom

Site ID: 15Fa284

Kentucky Archaeological Survey
Unless specified, we cannot provide site location information.


​​Davis Bottom is a residential urban neighborhood in a low-lying area west of downtown Lexington, Kentucky. Established in the 1860s, Davis Bottom served as a “portal” community for several generations of African American, European, and Appalachian families who moved to Lexington in search of jobs, education, and a better life. Construction of a new road – the Newtown Pike Extension​ - destroyed large portions of the neighborhood. This resulted in a collaboration among scholars, educators, and residents to document and preserve the history of this tight-knit, working-class community.​ The archaeological work was carried out in 2003 by Cultural Resource Analysts.

 An archaeologist describes the stratigraphy (soil layers) within a mid-1900s privy.


Among the deposits investigated by the archaeologists were two early to mid-twentieth-​century privies. Both were behind shotgun homes on DeRoode Street.  One was lined with wood and the other,​​ with slate.  Based on the types of artifacts recovered, researchers determined that the privies were primarily used for night soil during the 1920s and 1930s, and for trash disposal in the 1940s.  Both were sealed in the 1950s.   

Fork, spoon, and personal items - beads and buttons.

Green glass wine bottle (left) and glass medicinal bottles.

What's Cool?

​Educational Materials

In addition to archaeological research, four integrated educational components were produced as part of the Davis Bottom History Preservation Project, which received the Award for Excellence in Public Education by the Society for American Archaeology in 2018:  1)  "Davis Bottom: Rare History, Valuable Lives," a one-hour, award-winning documentary film distributed by Kentucky Educational Television (KET); 2) a companion website; 3) "Investigating a Shotgun House," a curriculum unit in Project Archaeology's Investigating Shelter series​; and 4) "Teaching Through Documentary Art," lessons linked to two murals created to fill visual voids in the documentary.

The video and companion website provide an overview of the history of Davis Bottom as told through archaeology, history, architecture, and the living memories of neighborhood residents.

​In the "Investigating a Shotgun House” curriculum, students use geography, history, and archaeological work carried out at Davis Bottom​ to learn about a Kentucky shotgun house and the people who lived in it.

"Teaching T​​hrough Documentary Art" offers innovative lessons for elementary and middle school social studies teachers to engage their students in social studies while strengthening their visual, literacy, and analytical thinking skills.

DVD cover for "Davis Bottom: Rare History, Valuable Lives" documentary.

Related Materials

An archaeologist analyzes artifacts recovered from the privies.

​For more about the Davis Bottom History Preservation Project​ and its educational materials, visit these links:

The Davis Bottom History Preservation Project

Davis Bottom: Rare History, Valuable Lives (watch video).

Investigating a Shotgun House

Teaching T​​hrough Documentary Art 

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