Six miles of busy Route 78 west of Swanton will soon be widened. But before that happens, the real big dig has to occur. How the preconstruction project will help preserve the past.
"The project is being done in advance of a highway improvement here on Route 78 to improve safety on this heavily traveled road," said Corbett Torrence, the public education coordinator at the Northeast Archaeology Center.
"This is known as a data recovery excavation. We recover a certain proportion of the deposits near the road to get as much information as possible before they widen the road because they could damage archaeological deposits. And what we know about this site-- it's one of the most interesting in Vermont, one of the most incredible we've found most recently, simply because firstly, it preserves evidence of occupation over 7,000 years. It's so well preserved because the stratigraphy is very nice, so each layer gives us something to look at and separates all of our occupations through time," explained Gemma-Jayne Hudgell, the project director for Northeast Archaeology Center.
"We have the excavators who are actually in the block taking the block down by levels. Then we have the sifters who are locating the artifacts in the screens. We have the paperwork people who are keeping an eye on the provenance, where we are finding stuff, and then we have our people on our total station who are doing all the accurate surveying in of where we are."
"And they're looking for features, fire pits because in these fire pits is where we find carbonized plant remains which enables us to understand the diet. Also those plant remains give us an indication of what the environment was like," Corbett said.
"By the time we are into the woodland period the pottery making people we are starting to get evidence of larger encampments and the beginnings of villages," Hudgell said.
"I think inevitably if one has a comprehension of the past that provides reflection to the future it gives you a frame of reference," Corbett said.
There are open houses now through September and opportunities to volunteer. For more details on the Northeast Archaeology Research Center project in Swanton -- http://nearchaeology.com/Swanton.html
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