Prehistoric Structural Remains and Features: The Larson Farm

    ACS conducted an archaeological survey on a property consisting of an open field which had been plowed for 200 years as part of the Larson Farm in New Milford, Connecticut. The project area contains three historic sites as well as an abundance of prehistoric material and features such as structural post-molds, hearths, and storage pits from nearly 5,000 years ago.


Examples of lithic projectile points (upper row) and knives (lower row) recovered from the Larson Site. Most of the projectile points date to the Late Archaic period (ca. 5,000 to 4,000 years ago). The knives are less regular in shape, with dotted lines indicating visible use-wear along the lateral edges. A modern steel arrowhead found at the site is included for scale and comparative purposes.


    While the effects of plowing distorted the relationship between surface distributions of artifacts and the subsurface sites they represent, a surface collection aided in the distribution of systematic subsurface shovel tests of a Phase I survey. Historic sites recorded during the Phase I survey include a tobacco barn and material associated with small commercial and residential structures of the late 18th through early 20th Centuries. All were found in highly disturbed contexts and dismissed from further evaluation.


    While found scattered throughout the property at the surface, subsurface testing during the Phase I survey revealed three concentrated areas of prehistoric material. Phase II intensive testing of the southwest and eastern loci revealed a moderate density of material in relatively disturbed contexts. The western locus, however, revealed high densities of lithic material within a site area measuring five acres. While the material in the plowzone was out of context, Phase II shovel tests and excavation units revealed "in situ" deposits beneath the plowzone including an abundance of features within a core two-acre area. These features included traces of a hearth, a storage pit with burnt nut fragments, and various post-molds representing habitation structures, all visible beneath an interface between the plowzone and subsoil revealing parallel plow scars.


     A radiocarbon date was attained through a charcoal sample from the hearth, generating a date of 4,460+70 B.P. or the early part of the Late Archaic period as confirmed by projectile points including Brewerton and Beekman types. Chert cores were also recovered, a rarity for the region as most of this material was traded into the area by neighboring exchanges of blanks and preforms rather than long forays or importation in bulk. Finally, the distribution of recorded post-molds indicate overlapping structures and thus repeated episodes of habitation and a settlement system in which seasonal movement took place. The site is tucked against a hill slope to the west, thus possibly representing use during winter when this landform would have offered considerable protection against prevailing winds from the northwest.


    While the project property revealed a high density of cultural resources, ACS was able to minimize the extent to which the client was bound to consider aspects of cultural resource conservation through extensive phases of testing. The core area of the Larson Site easily qualified for the National Register of Historic Places with respect to the potential ability to add new and important information to the archaeological record. This project demonstrates the importance of finding a balance between community development and the need to conserve cultural resources.


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