Students help dig up history - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Students help dig up history

Fairfax, Vermont - June 22, 2011

Back in the corner of the River Berry Farm in Fairfax there are people hard at work, but these aren't farm hands. They are archaeologists digging up an ancient village that belonged to ancestors of the Abenaki, estimated to be 2,000 years old. 

"It's important to understand what happened before us," said David Marchant of River Berry Farm. "It's just kind of neat to think about how long ago it was."

The farm was chosen based on its potential for archaeological deposits due to its proximity to the Lamoille River. For the past four weeks a handful of Johnson State College students have been excavating the land. "We have found a variety of different tools from arrowheads, spear points, drills, scrapers, spoke shavers," said Corbett Torrence of Johnson State College.

"And the stones come from New York or Pennsylvania and that's quite a distance. That's through trade networks on the Lamoille River. This was once a bustling place," explained Chris Chabot of Johnson State College.

Most of the artifacts have been discovered while digging through fire pits. Researchers say the soil remains of those pits actually will provide the most valuable information when the dirt is tested.

"When they carbonize they preserve very well, so it's in the fire pits that we are able to find plant and animal material that made up their diet," Torrence said. "This helps us determine if the people lived here permanently or whether it is a seasonal camp."

"It's all pretty exciting, kind of crazy when you do unearth something like this," said McCuloough Stoeckeit of Johnson State College.

The archaeologists will spend the next few months preparing a final report. They will then turn it over to the state along with some of the artifacts. Some of the artifacts will also be turned over to the farm for display.

Matt Henson - WCAX News

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