Data Recovery / Excavation Projects
In cultural resource management work, when a significant archaeological site is found during a construction project, every effort is made to avoid impact to the site. This generally involves project redesign or creative measures such as geotextile protection. On rare occasions a significant site cannot be spared impact and a data recovery excavation is warranted. In a data recovery excavation part of all or a site is removed by archaeologists; although the site will no longer exist in the ground, its information, which is the key to its significance, is preserved and used to enhance knowledge of past lifeways.
PAST has long provided archaeological and historical services to the Connecticut Department of Transportation. In the last three years PAST excavated the buried remains of three 18th-century homesteads: the Thomas Daniels homestead in Waterford, built in 1712 and occupied to the 1770s; the Samuel Goodsell homestead in North Branford, c. 1738-1799; and the Ephraim Sprague homestead in Andover, c. 1704-1750s. All three homesteads were found buried in farm fields, and none could be feasibly avoided by highway redesign, necessitating impact mitigation in the form of excavation. CONNDOT was very supportive, recognizing the important data these homesteads could provide about 18th-century lifeways and architecture. In Connecticut there has been very little excavation of 18th-century Euro-American domestic sites, and rural lifeways in particular are poorly documented. Each of the CONNDOT project house sites was completely excavated, almost entirely by hand, and the results have provided the first solid baseline data on 18th-century rural Connecticut lifeways. The sites are in three different parts of the state, allowing comparison of contemporaneous structures and lives. They are remarkably similar in the overall simplicity of their construction and location relative to environmental features, yet each site tells its own story. The Goodsell homestead was occupied solely by women for most of its history, women who etched their initials into liquor bottles and mended earthenware. The Daniels homestead housed a coastal family that was probably involved in overseas beef trade. And the Sprague homestead lets us into the world of a rural militia captain and deacon from one of the area's first white families. The data from these three sites, meticulously excavated, analyzed and conserved, will change the way scholars and the public understand 18th-century life in Connecticut. The sites' importance go beyond Connecticut as well; by comparing the data to the larger databases from northern New England and the mid-Atlantic, where more excavation has been undertaken, a more complete picture of colonial lifeways can be attained. For more information on these three important sites please read the Foodways in 18th-Century Connecticut article reprinted from the journal CRM.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation has proposed significant improvements to two high-volume highways in the towns of Norwalk and Wilton Connecticut. PAST conducted reconnaissance and-intensive level surveys along the proposed re-alignments and identified several potentially significant archaeological sites. One of the sites, 103-49, was found on a small remnant of a Pleistocene outwash terrace preserved between the existing highways and surface roads. Data recovery excavations were undertaken after it was determined that there was no feasible alternative to the proposed site impacts. The excavations at the site have yielded evidence of several short-term prehistoric occupations,. Elements of the lithic assemblage show strong similarities with late Paleoindian materials recovered in southeastern Connecticut. Late Paleoindian sites in the region as a whole are very rare, and the investigations at 103-49 have illuminated this poorly understood period. Several unusual side-notched projectile points were also recovered from the site. The points do not fit comfortably within the conventional typological framework for southern New England, but do show morphological affinities with Adena and Snyder forms more typical of Ohio River Valley. These points and a moderate quantity of Pennsylvania Jasper recovered from the site add to the growing evidence of interaction between indigenous populations in southern New England and their neighbors to the west.
A detailed view of other services we offer:
Archaeological Reconnaissance Surveys
Intensive Archaeological and Historical Studies
Impact Assessment and Mitigation Strategies
National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmark Documentation
Laboratory Services and Artifact Conservation
State- and Federal-Level Historic Documentation
Public Outreach Programs
Educational Outreach and Curriculum Development