Schuylerville, Phase III


 
View of Fort Hardy Park
View of Facility Area
Top of Feature 2, a roasting platform in the C-Horizon
Activity surface around Feature 2
Profile of Feature 2
Trench-like feature associated with Fort Hardy
Possible occupation floor, A-Horizon
Decorated netsinker from Feature 2
Meadowood style point from B-Horizon

Introduction

Black Drake Consulting conducted Phase I and II cultural resources investigations on a multiple component site located on the Fort Hardy property in the village of Schuylerville, New York. Several components of the overall site were recommended as eligible for inclusion in the State and National Register of Historic Places. Since a portion of the archaeological site will be impacted by a proposed water filtration facility, a Phase III mitigation will be implemented. The project area is about 2.3 acres within the overall 22 acre parcel. The project consists of about an acre where the facility will go and two long utility corridors.

Brief background

 The project area, located on the floodplain in the Upper Hudson River valley, contains archaeological remains from the early historic period and several prehistoric periods. During the contact period, the area served as a boundary between the Mohawks and the Mahicans. The property is historically noted for its physical association with the 18th century Fort Hardy, a supply fort used in the French and Indian War. In the Revolutionary War, British General Burgoyne surrendered to the Americans in Scuylerville following the Battle of Saratoga. Fort Hardy Park is where the conditions of the surrender were signed. Later, the area was a stop on the Champlain Canal.

Overview of our findings

The archaeological site on the property, based on our previous investigations, is rich in features but somewhat poor in artifacts. The Phase I and II cultural resources evaluations identified 1 significant historic feature, a trench-like depression that may be associated with Fort Hardy, and 10 prehistoric features, including possible floors and several roasting pits/platforms. Prehistoric components were found in the topsoil, the B-Horizon, and up to 2.5 meters below the surface in the C-Horizon. 

One deep feature in the C-Horizon was a roasting or fire platform containing fire cracked rock cobbles, fire blackened soil, several pitted stones, a decorated net sinker, and a quartzite core. No seeds, nuts, or other food was discovered in the float. Another burned pit associated with this feature, containing chipped stone debris and fire cracked rock, extended below the water table and was not fully excavated.

Few time-diagnostic artifacts were found at the site and radiocarbon dates have not yet been returned. Though the soil stratum has been slightly disturbed or truncated in some areas, it can still give a rough indication of cultural material age. Roughly speaking, the A-Horizon would represent the Woodland period, the B-Horizon would represent the Woodland and/or the Archaic, and the C-Horizon would represent the Archaic period. Diagnostic artifacts found include: an Early Woodland Meadowood style point, a quartzite point similar to a Late Archaic Poplar Island style, and a partially decorated net sinker that could date anywhere from Late Archaic to Late Woodland.

Four areas of artifact density, generally lithic scatters, were identified within the project. Locus 1 revealed a dense and spatially restricted concentration of chipped stone debris, showing all stages of reduction. A small piece of prehistoric pottery was found with the lithic scatter at Locus 2. The scatter in Locus 3 was found in a buried A-Horizon that contained a small amount of historic material. The area would have been slightly wet at the time of deposition. The fourth concentration was a more generalized scatter that may intergrade with material found in the B-Horizon. 

Overview of Phase III plans

Investigations on the historic components will be restricted to a trench-like feature, possible associated with the mid-18th century Fort Hardy. We will investigate if the trench-like feature is truly cultural in nature, what its overall dimensions are, and why there are prehistoric cultural materials present. To do this, we intend to extend a backhoe test we did in the Phase II and to examine (using a backhoe trench) an additional 120 linear feet that was not tested in the Phase II. Several hand excavated units will be placed to recover a sample of cultural materials from the buried A-Horizon.

Most of our work will focus on the prehistoric components. Several 1x1 meter units will be excavated in the areas of artifact density to determine what the purpose of the occupation was, how they correlate with the rest of the site, if they are representative of single or multiple occupations, and if any cultural affiliations can be revealed. 

For the more generalized concentration in the area where the facility will be located, several questions will be addressed. Do the overall characteristics of lithics change from soil horizon to soil horizon? How much of the lithic material is local and how much is imported? Do the reduction sequences represented indicate the full range of processing? Do any of the general lithic scatters relate directly to any of the features?  Up to 90 1x1 meter units, stopping at the bottom of the B-Horizon (unless they are being used to reach features lower in the C-Horizon) will be excavated in a stratified random sample to recover assemblages of artifacts. We estimate between 50 and 150 features are within the 1,800 square meters at the center of the facility area. We plan to hand excavate 25 to 30 of these. A 4-inch bucket auger will be used every 2 meters to help identify features.
For the two possible occupation floors, several units will be excavated to determine the type, size, structure of architecture, and possible cultural affiliation of the features. Any subfeatures will be separately recorded, sampled and excavated. 

The portion of the deep roasting or fire platform that was not excavated in the earlier investigations will be explored further. For this and other fire cracked rock features, the research goal is to identify the purpose; to determine if any food remains or calcified bones are present; to explore what they tell us about the immediate landscape; whether they represent annual, seasonal or sporadic use; and whether they are associated with habitation or short time use.

A geomorphologist will be visiting the site to help us decipher the stratigraphic record of the prehistoric deposits, to further investigate the paleo-geology of the site, and to be consulted in the interpretation of the deep feature.

Logistics

We will be working in the winter. Most of the work will be done under heated shelters. Though the temperature inside the shelters is not likely to be t-shirt and shorts warm, it will be around 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The work we will be doing outside of the shelters will be done later in the season when it is warmer. 

Excavation techniques will range from shoveling off areas to get to features, to typical 1x1 meter units, to trowel work within the features. Since we are potentially moving a lot of dirt in a short period of time, we are going to attempt using mechanical screens. For those who might be concerned, we do have traditional screens should the mechanical screens not work.
 
 


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