The Summer Archaeology Program included a combination of classroom presentations, guest speakers, field trips, archaeological problem solving exercises, and a mock excavation.
One of the first activities was a field trip to the Office of Connecticut State Archaeology, located at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Nicholas Bellantoni described how sites were located. A variety of environmental and geological factors influenced the selection of site location for Connecticut's prehistoric populations. Important factors in selecting a camp or village site were the distance to fresh water and other food resources. Another important consideration was the texture of the soil and drainage. Prehistoric people selected areas that would not be flooded by rain or rising waters from streams or rivers.
Dr. Bellantoni also showed the students a variety of prehistoric artifacts such as lithics (stone tools) and pottery.
A second field trip brought the students to an historic farmstead. This farmstead was the home of Samuel Huntington, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. This site was being excavated by Dr. Harold Juli and the Summer Field School from Connecticut College. Dr. Juli explained how archaeologists carefully grid out a site and the importance of recording accurate measurements during excavation. The students watched as the Connecticut College archaeologists worked in several excavation units. When a portion of a broken kaolin pipe was discovered, Dr. Juli demonstrated how a set of drill bits could be used to measure the diameter of the hole in the pipe stem. Since the diameter of stem bores changed consistently over time from large to small, the diameter of the hole can help archaeologists determine the age of a clay pipe.
Just down the road from the Huntington farmstead the students found the gravestones of the Huntington family. They examined a number of old tombstones and did rubbings of the designs. When these rubbings were compared the students found that designs and styles of the gravestones changed over time. Back in the classroom the students examined catalogues and discovered that many things made by humans change over time, such as tools, bottles, plates, and even prehistoric stone tools.
On another field trip, students conducted a walkover inspection of a 19th-century mill site. A large quantity of ceramics and metal artifacts were discovered on the surface. A small number of these sherds were collected and compared to reference guides to determine their date of manufacture. The standing ruins of the mill site were inspected and mapped. They also examined the mill race and learned about the use of water-powered machinery.
Using what they had learned about the methods used by archaeologists, students then prepared to conduct their own excavation. To practice the methods of excavation and data recording, students made and excavated a series of "shoebox sites". These consisted of large plastic containers that were filled with layers of different colored soil and artifacts like chicken bones and flint flakes. Groups of students built sites to learn how sites were formed. Then different teams and excavated these miniature "sites". The location of each artifact was measured, then artifacts were placed in bags with labels identifying their contents and location.
After the "shoebox site" excavations were completed, it was time to move outside. Teachers and para-professionals involved with the program constructed a simulated site on the grounds of the North Windham Elementary School. The "site" included projectile points, animal bones, shell, and charcoal. The site also included simulated hearths and features. With the assistance of the teaching staff, student teams excavated these artifacts, recorded their locations, and later analyzed them.
Following the excavation of the simulated site, students analyzed the artifacts they discovered. During this phase of the program, students learned the importance of the careful measurements and notes they had recorded. All of the artifacts and features found at the site were the products of behavior which took place in the past. The goal of the project was to describe the activities which produced the artifacts and features found during the excavation.
The Summer Archaeology Program was funded by a grant from the Connecticut Department of Education.
The program was administered by:
The Summer Program was developed and staffed by: