Very little has been said in the historic record of the Monacan Indians. Due to this fact, a large portion of the information known of the Monacan Indians comes from the archaeological record. Confusing the fact further is the problem of the high acidity of soil in the Virginia Piedmont. This leads to poor preservation of wood and other perishable items, leaving little record of this type behind. Instead, a large portion of the material record consists of pottery and stone.


It is assumed that the majority of Monacan material culture consisted of objects carved from wood or weaved from other perishable materials. Due to their deterioration, it becomes difficult to draw a complete picture of Monacan life from the archaeological record alone. Much of the work done in determining the way of life of these people is done through ethnography and cooperation with the current Monacan Indian nation, headquartered in Amherst County, Virginia.


Of what does remain of the material culture, much can still be learned. One of the most ambitious projects related to the Monacan tribe was an excavation led by Jeff Hantman at the University of Virginia. This excavation, which took place on the flood plain of the Rapidan River, involved excavation of one of the thirteen Monacan burial mounds. Undertaken with the permission and cooperation of the Monacan nation due to ecological circumstances, this excavation provided broad information into the mortuary practices of the Monacans.


Other sites excavated in Virginia relating to the Monacans include excavations at the Hoge and Crab Orchard sites in southwestern Virginia. The sites provide some of the best postmold evidence of Monacan sites in Virginia, hinting at the possible layout of settlements in the villages. In a similar fashion, the Governorís Land site in eastern Virginia provides valuable information about the layout of a Pamunkey Indian village, part of the Powhatan confederacy of the Tidewater.