Archaeological Gem in the Hudson Valley
New Paltz field school excavations summer 2009 Diamond began the field school ncient ceramics, projectile in 1998, after he conducted two points, and human remains an archaeologist’s fantasy. Students excavations of his own, and found a series of pre-historic pottery involved in SUNY New Paltz’s fragments. Due to the site’s field school get to experience this first hand, just a short walk from “It’s a great opportunity for those the campus. involved to learn more about the hisIt may not initially seem that tory where they are living.” exciting to those outside of the -- J. Diamond anthropology department, but that has not stopped students at SUNY convenient location, just outside New Paltz showing up from all of campus, he realized what an different academic areas to be amazing opportunity this would be involved in the highly respected field school, excavating the historic for students and professors alike, regardless of academic focus. Huguenot Street. “It’s a great opportunity for [those “We have a lot of history involved] to learn more about majors, sociology majors… and the history right where [they] are professors” says head of the living!” program, Professor Joe Diamond, There is no experience required, about involvement from the but participants must be available campus community.
for about a month in the summer, for one of two sessions. And they must be able to get up early, as excavation starts at 6:30 a.m. sharp and doesn’t end until 2 p.m. The group is set up into “crews” instructed on site by crew chiefs. Occasionally there will be a rain day, and work will take place in the labs on campus. But otherwise, participants spend more than seven hours a day at the site. But those involved know what they are getting into, and they like it, a lot. They say that they don’t mind spending all day in the elements, sometimes with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees. Lucky for the 2009 group, they had Terrah Bretherton, who supplied her co-workers with freezer pops from her near-by
All photos by Terrah Bretherson.
SUNY New Paltz offers community a unique, hands on experience right in their own backyard. -- Theresa Ipolito
apartment on those scorching days. fleeing religious persecution. self-proclaimed fantasy. “All I want For 22-year-old Bretherton, it In addition to the European is to find a privy,” he explains with a grin. wasn’t the weather or the hours that artifacts such as ceramics, beads, A privy, by the way, is an concerned her. “It was more so the glass, metal, and nails, recent outhouse. Yes, the one thing spiders.” Bretherton claims that findings have allowed Diamond that can still make a veteran ending the day dirty, sweaty, and to make the claim that Native archeologist giddy with excitement exhausted added to the feeling of Americans inhabited this land at satisfaction. some point as well. These findings is human waste. But just as unearthed tools give hints to the Bretherton, an anthropology incldue ancients’ day-to-day lifestyles, their major, was part of the discovery of projectile points, crafted utensils excrement would reveal details the largest piece of majolica found used for weapons and everyday about their diet, as well as other at the site, in the summer of 2009. tools, and pottery made of stone. health related information As soon as the for this small group of artifact surfaced, For more photos from the New Paltz field school, people. she “started to dig visit http://www.slide.com/r/jM6FmhKA4j999jr_ With all the recent the rest out with gWaYdDezpUxmsGFd?previous_view=lt_embedded_url discoveries made, and [her] bare hands, ancient treasures unearthed in these while everyone gathered around.” Diamond’s protégés have also excavations on Huguenot Street, Bretherton was also involved in recently discovered a stockade, Diamond may in fact, find his the excavation of a large pot with with the frame of a house inside coveted privy. And this will only what she described as “carbonized of it, as well as three additional give more gravitas to an already food remains” found inside. structural remains that have not headline making program that One of the many reasons that yet been unearthed. “They most provides students with a fun and this field school is so important is likely date back to around 1677” unique learning experience for that Huguenot Street is the oldest he explains. students and professors alike. known archaeological site of But these findings were -European settlers. The Huguenots overshadowed by the recent, settled in this area of the Hudson unexpected discovery of human Valley as far back as the 1600s, remains. Although they are not currently focusing on these Professor Diamond’s List of findings specifically, excavations Required Equipment are still taking place in that area. • 1 roll out metric ruler and 1 regular The work being done by straight ruler the New Paltz field school is • 2 fine tipped and 2 regular tipped exceptional. These average black sharpies college students are responsible • 1 pair of pruning shears for finding some of the oldest • 1 foam kneeling pad European artifacts in this county. • 4 pencils and 1 pencil sharpener And the Hudson Valley is taking • 1 1 in paintbrush notice. According to Diamond, • 1 line level there have been between 10 • 1 Marshalltown trowel and 15 articles written about • 1 steel file the Huguenot excavations by • 1 jacknife various publications, including the • 1 toothbrush Poughkeepsie Journal, the New • 1 whisk broom Paltz Times, the Daily Freeman, • a backpacl to carry equipment and the Times-Herald. It is also recommended that participants For Diamond, however, wear smooth bottomed choes, and bring these acomplishments pale in sunscreen, bug spray, and gloves. comparison to his A group excavates at the site.