The soil starts to feel like clay one meter beneath the surface.
"This is getting really hard to dig," Aziz Fatnassi said as he lifted a heavy shovel full of dirt. He hopes to find clues to the people who lived on the land hundreds of years ago.
He has found a few arrowhead points, some of about a hundred artifacts that have already been uncovered during a surface inspection of the oat field at Boyden Farm. Fatnassi grew up in the Middle East and is excited to be exploring archaeology right here in Vermont.
"I grew up going to all the ancient Carthaginian sites in Tunisia," he said, "so I saw archaeology happening all the time and I was like, wow, this is cool."
He is one of half a dozen students on a five-week archaeology field project through Johnson State College. They're looking for artifacts that suggest how the early Abenaki lived, what they ate, and why they settled here on the banks of the Lamoille River.
"The Lamoille River is the least well known river archaeologically, arguably in the state of Vermont but certainly in the Champlain Valley," said Corbett Torrence, a visiting professor at JSC who is directing the project. He says understanding the artifacts can offer insights into how people used the river and how it guided their way of life.
"If one has an understanding of the past, one certainly has a better ability to guide their future," Torrence said. "For example, the Indians selected to live on these third terraces. If they chose to live on those lower terraces, you might get swept away."
Lessons from long ago prove there's more to learn today.
"This is really an untold story," Fatnassi said. "Not a lot of people find it interesting, not a lot of people want to dig here. But now that we've found stuff, we're hoping we can generate interest and get other people as excited about it as we are."
Friday, December 6 2013 7:24 AM EST2013-12-06 12:24:22 GMT
Vermont state employees will be getting paid more. The State Employees' Association say workers will see 2.5 percent pay increased each of the next two years. The tentative deal also calls for increasedMore >>
Vermont state employees will be getting paid more.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 6:31 AM EST2013-12-06 11:31:48 GMT
A welfare check turned into a dangerous situation in Brattleboro. Officers were called to Valley Street Thursday to check on a 39-year-old woman. While on the scene, police say the woman grabbed a largeMore >>
A welfare check turned into a dangerous situation in Brattleboro.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 6:28 AM EST2013-12-06 11:28:49 GMT
A plea deal may be in the works for the man who police say torched a Burlington bell tower. The College Street Congregational Church was badly damaged back in October by a fire investigators say was arson.More >>
A plea deal may be in the works for the man who police say torched a Burlington bell tower.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 6:22 AM EST2013-12-06 11:22:45 GMT
A Vermont family is homeless after fire destroyed their Concord home. Officials say the fire broke out Thursday afternoon on Ladd Road just before 4 p.m. By the time fire crews arrived on the scene theMore >>
A Vermont family is homeless after fire destroyed their Concord home. More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 6:14 AM EST2013-12-06 11:14:08 GMT
Dozens of Vermont nurses are headed to the Philippines to help victims of a deadly storm. Last month, a typhoon tore across the eastern Philippines, killing thousands and displacing hundreds of thousands. TheMore >>
Dozens of Vermont nurses are headed to the Philippines to help victims of a deadly storm.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 6:09 AM EST2013-12-06 11:09:59 GMT
For years, Vermonters have described their favorite maple syrup with a letter grade or as Vermont Fancy. But beginning next year, those grading rules will change. Producers will begin labeling VermontMore >>
New regulations coming next year will change the way you shop for syrup in Vermont.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 6:03 AM EST2013-12-06 11:03:14 GMT
Prosecutors are calling for stiffer probation penalties for a Vermont publisher who swindled retirees out of their life savings. Last April Peter Campbell-Copp pleaded guilty to more than a dozen felonyMore >>
Prosecutors are calling for stiffer probation penalties for a Vermont publisher who swindled retirees out of their life savings.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 5:56 AM EST2013-12-06 10:56:32 GMT
There are new developments in the search for a missing New Hampshire teen. The FBI now confirms that the mother of 15-year-old Abigail Hernandez has had contact with her daughter since she vanished twoMore >>
There are new developments in the search for a missing New Hampshire teen. More >>