Prehistoric Camp Sites, Historic Agriculture and Light Industry: "Squabble Hole"

    ACS conducted an archaeological survey of a property in an area historically known as "Squabble Hole" in Ansonia, Connecticut. This area supported one of the first Euroamerican settlements on the outskirts of the New Haven Colony in the middle of the 17th Century. Unlike other early historic settlements of the region, Squabble Hole was located at a relatively great distance from the nearest major water source, and instead concentrated on a series of prominent hill ridges for protection against perceived threats from Native American tribes of the area.


Brewerton projectile point from the Late Archaic period (ca. 5,000 to 4,000 years ago)

Kaolin clay 'TD' pipe bowl from the mid 19th Century


    Four sites were identified on the property, including two prehistoric and two historic occupations. The first prehistoric site revealed evidence of food preparation, including deer bone processed for marrow extraction, a quartz knife, and a resharpening flake. The site lies near a marshy plain that was converted into a reservoir in the 19th Century. The second prehistoric site produced a Brewerton side-notched projectile point of the Late Archaic period (ca. 5,000 to 4,000 years ago). Most of the other artifacts from the second site represent the early part of the lithic reduction stream, including primary elements and flakes from quartz cobbles. The site lies near the confluence of two small intermittent streams which feed the reservoir and contain glacially transported cobbles that served as a source for lithic raw materials procured and processed at the site. Both sites suggest task-specific activities or short-term, seasonally restricted habitation.


    The first historic site identified on the property included cellar-holes from two residential structures, as well as the remains of a small outbuilding. Through historic maps and land records, it was determined that the site belonged to the Coe family during the late 18th through late 19th Centuries. Diagnostic materials were mostly limited to ceramic artifacts confirming the date range of occupation. The second site included a foundation of a smaller residential structure and a well. Historic sources indicate this latter location to have been occupied by the Coleman family from the early 19th through early 20th Centuries, as confirmed by a variety of diagnostic household ceramics. Foundations from both sites were made from locally available schists and gneisses which outcrop in the area. These historic occupations were associated with an agrarian use of the landscape, historically referenced as "orchards" or "farms" in local land records.


    The multi-component nature of the property reveals interesting changes with respect to land-use. While the small drainage basin and hilly terrain was limited to short-term hunting and gathering tasks during the prehistoric era, it was targeted by early Euroamerican settlers seeking to expand the settlement of the New Haven Colony. The choice of this area was recognized as a trade-off between limited agricultural potential and enhanced safety offered by the protective hill ridge setting. Agriculture on the property was largely abandoned by the late 19th Century as railroads and population expansion provided more efficient supplies of agricultural products from outside the region to major market centers in the Northeast.


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