City names permanent city archaeologist

City names permanent city archaeologist
Eleanor Breen leads a media tour of the Robinson Landing site, where three 18th-century ships have been discovered (Photo Credit: Alexa Epitropoulos)

By Alexa Epitropoulos |

City Manager Mark Jinks has made acting city archaeologist Eleanor Breen’s role permanent, the city announced Monday.

Breen joined the city as a staff archaeologist for the Office of Historic Alexandria in 2016 and became acting city archaeologist in 2017.

She’s been busy in that role ever since as an active participant in the archaeological exploration of Fort Ward Park, the discovery of three historic ships at the Robinson Landing site in 2018 and the conservation process for the ship found at the Hotel Indigo site in 2015, which is now going through a multi-year restoration process at Texas A&M University.

The city archaeologist, a position first created in 1977, directs the Alexandria Archaeology Museum, leads a staff of archaeologists, educators and volunteers and works with private archaeologists and developers to enforce the Alexandria Archaeological Code. 

“This is an exciting time for archaeology in Alexandria,” Jinks said in a news release. “In addition to Eleanor’s professional expertise and leadership in Alexandria’s active preservation community, she has a gift for helping the public understand complex technical issues and the overall importance of archaeology in our historic city.”

Before joining city staff, Breen worked at George Washington’s Mount Vernon from 2001 to 2016, where she last served as deputy director of archaeology. 

Breen graduated from the College of William and Mary with a bachelor’s degree, earned her master’s degree in anthropology the University of Massachusetts, Boston and received her doctoral degree in anthropology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

She also serves as president of the Council of Virginia Archaeologists and is on the national Register of Professional Archaeologists.